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Thursday, January 22, 2015


The Day the Clowns Cried, the Hartford Circus Fire


Hartford  Fire Chief Carlos Huertas today responded to my posting from yesterday regarding the destruction of photos from  the Hartford Circus Fire.
Soon to be retired Captain William Pond exercised poor judgment in removing photos from the quarters of Engine Co. 14. He has demonstrated a lack of professionalism in his decision to take matters in to his own hands and circumvented the process put forth to better handle the situation. The photos removed were found to be copies and have no intrinsic value. However, I will be taking the necessary actions to ensure the situation continues to be investigated in its entirety.****END OF STATEMENT*****

Below is apparently one of the photos in question, This is a morgue photo that was used to eventually identify the deceased victim known as little Miss 1565. This photo apparently drove Hartford Fire LT. Davey to persevere for years to continue to investigate the Circus fire and eventually identify Little Miss 1565 as Eleanor Cook. Her body, after being identified, was eventually exhumed from its grave at Northwoods Cemetery in Hartford and reunited with her family at their plot in Longmeadow , MA

Pond announced his retirement, his last day is tomorrow.

The picture below is apparently what has started the uproar. I apologize for posting it but I think it is important to put this matter in perspective
Alittle more about Lt Rick Davey and his quest for the truth, from a Newweek article:
For 47 years she was known as "Little Miss 1565." On July 6, 1944, as 7,000 people in Hartford, Conn., watched the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus perform, the Big Top burst into flames. When the inferno subsided, its cause was a mystery and 168 people were dead, including an 8-year-old child lying unclaimed in the morgue with a toe tag numbered 1565.

Haunted by a morgue photograph, Lt. Rick Davey, 42, investigator for the Hartford Fire Department, decided to find out who she was. Beginning in 1982, he studied files and interviewed old-timers. He publicly identified her last month as Eleanor Cook.

If Davey could solve that mystery, what about the fire itself? At the time, the police concluded that a dropped cigarette, probably igniting the tent, caused the fire. But Davey found witnesses who said the flames started high on the tent wall. Davey even tracked down a possible arsonist: a 14-year-old circus worker. Davey's suspect, now 61 and living in Ohio, denies setting the circus fire, He later served time for arson elsewhere, which he allegedly confessed to committing after "frustrating" sexual experiences. Connecticut officials are reviewing the case to determine whether it was arson or an accident. Says Davey: "These [fire victims], even in death, have a right to expect that the truth be known."

The Circus fire always had an interest to me . At the time I was born at Saint Francis, many years after the fire, my mothers roommate was a surviving victim of the Circus Fire also giving birth at the time. My mother and Barbara stayed in touch and  became friends .Coincidentally my father and her husband eventually became employed at the old Hartford Gas Company. I remember at a young age going to their beach house one summer and noticing the scars on her body, arm and legs and chest, and my mother explained to me the devastating effects and the story of the Circus Fire and that those were burn scars covering her body . Apparently her mother and sister were also trapped in the tent and burned , fortunately all 3 survived I didn't realize the damage at the time, but as an adult I can only imagine the pain and agony they went through as well as the terror trying to escape that tent  My grandmothers cousin, Michael Godfrey was also Hartford's Police Chief at the time and I remember photos of him from various reports with the burning tent and devastation as a backdrop behind him, not to mention the pictures of the limo style sedan he was chauffeured in by his police driver. Times have changed.


Anonymous said...

Good riddance Captain A-hole!

Anonymous said...

Kevin,i'm super confused! You posted a warning and a apology for providing the picture of Eleanor Cook. WHY? It appeared that you were on the side of commentary that the pics arent that bad ,in fact, thats the best picture of her dead. Kevin,are you "dishonoring" Eleanor by implying that this picture is horrific and/or gruesome! I DONT GET IT! Does this mean you would be a little disturbed walking past those pics numerous times in a 24 hr period? Well i guess you could look away as you went by .


I have no problem with the picture, but I think I should warn people that they may see a picture of a dead body. Im sure people reading about the assassination of JFK have seen far worse if they ever viewed his head shots , but they should be forewarned. That picture is all over the internet if you search Hartford circus fire. that is called respect , unlike destroying the picture because you are afraid of it

Anonymous said...

Having that picture on the wall of a workplace is inappropriate. Would anyone think it was a good idea to put the crime scene pictures of the dead Sandy Hook children on their firehouse wall? Pictures of dead children do not belong on public display. Period.