This week’s Time Capsule looks at a shooting, a coal shortage and the Winecoff Hotel fire.

100 years ago ...

The Thursday, Dec. 8, 1921, edition of The Marietta Journal reported that R.L. Hawkins of the Post Oak community was preparing to help kill and butcher some hogs at the home of Mr. Poss the Tuesday before. When all was ready, Mr. Poss, who was handling a .38-caliber pistol, accidentally fired the weapon and fatally shot Hawkins in the abdomen.

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A valuable piece of real estate on Church Street was reported as changing hands the Saturday before. The property, which had a 100-foot frontage and ran back about 60 feet, was located between the W.P. Dobbs grocery store and the Black Builders Supply Company. It was sold to Judge N.A. Morris by the Holland Realty Company. Rumor had it that Morris intended to erect a modern, two or three story hotel featuring 30-40 rooms with the ground floor being the hotel office and a café.

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Deputy Sanders of the Cobb County Police was reported as arresting five people the Wednesday before in a Ford Model 1918 on Cole Street in Marietta. All five of the car’s occupants, three men and two women, were found “too flush with ‘shine — in fact about five gallons worth.”

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The Nov. 17, 1921, death of Confederate veteran W.H. Dewees, 78, was reported in a story written by an anonymous friend. Dewees, a member of the Post Oak Baptist Church, was said to have been in “feeble health” for over a year, but his condition became serious three weeks prior to his passing.

75 years ago ...

The Friday, Dec. 6, 1946, edition of The Marietta Daily Journal reported that nearly every industry and business concern in Marietta was going to be directly affected by the rail embargo due to a coal shortage that went into effect throughout the country at midnight the day before.

Holeproof Hosiery’s shipping manager Henry Williams said “we’ve been practically cut off from shipping anything, except by parcel post.” Parcel post mail, however, was being limited to five pounds per package. The company was reported as having worked all night the Wednesday before and shipped out four times their usual amount of freight on Thursday before the deadline. The company had enough coal on hand to run through December, but either the coal or money would run out on Jan. 1, 1922.

The Marietta-Cobb Industries, which manufactured chenille products, laid off 11 employees and closed its doors the Wednesday before because of the shortage. Aluminum Furniture Company of Georgia said they would be able to continue for two weeks and that shipments from the company were almost entirely cut off.

All of Glover Machine Works’ shipping, except for 1% which was handled by trucks, was cut off. The company said they had enough raw material on hand to operate for several months and with plenty of storage space, they didn’t plan to shut down or cut back production.

Only Marietta Coca-Cola Bottling and Southland Ice companies were expected to be unaffected immediately by the embargo. All of the ice company’s deliveries were handled by truck and coal wasn’t needed in ice production. John I. Hart, the bottling company’s manager, said that coal was used in producing steam at the plant, but they had enough on hand to last 30 days and the freight embargo wouldn’t disrupt operations at the plant unless it interrupted the syrup supply.

Two days later, the Sunday, Dec. 8, 1946, paper, carried a front page United Press story that John L. Lewis surrendered in his coal strike fight with the government. Lewis called off the crippling 17-day walkout and sent his 400,000 United Mine Workers back to the pits until March 31, 1922, on the government’s terms.

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A second front page United Press story in the Dec. 8 edition reported on the nation’s worst hotel fire — the 15-story Winecoff Hotel in Atlanta.

The hotel caught fire the day before and killed 122 people. For three hours, the fire raged unchecked as the hotel’s 280 guests tried to escape. The story said “a few succeeded, some of them with miraculous tales of their experience” while “most of the men, women and children who jammed the 194 rooms for the weekend were either killed or injured.” Many of the injured were horribly burned or suffered multiple fractures caused by leaping from windows.

Alongside the UP story, the MDJ reported that Marietta resident Wiley L. Rochelle, 47, was among those that died in the fire. Rochelle, a salesman for the Sonnebarn Paint Company, had worked late in Atlanta and registered at the ill-fated hotel instead of coming home to Marietta.

The paper also reported in another story that Marietta Fire Chief Howard Schaffer and four other local firemen helped battle the hotel fire from 4:30 a.m. to noon. Schaffer was called around 4 a.m. and asked to report at once to Station 16 on Marietta Street. The trip to Atlanta was made in the Marietta pumper in less than 25 minutes. Atlanta firemen at the time were fighting the blaze on the fifth floor. Schaffer’s group assisted in fighting the conflagration from that point on up to the 15th floor and aided in the rescue of 20-plus people.

Two days later, in the Tuesday, Dec. 10, 1946, paper, a United Press story on the front page announced that an investigating committee had decided the hotel fire started from a cigarette. The fire was believed to have started on the third floor hallway where a folding bed was left in the hall. The smoldering cigarette’s flame was thought to have spread from the rug to the bedding or the cigarette may have been flipped carelessly onto the mattress. The bed stood only 15 feet from an open stairway through which the flames were funneled speedily upwards.

Damon Poirier is the Newsroom Administrator and Historian for the Marietta Daily Journal.


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