The West Plains Dance Hall Explosion (英語) ペーパーバック – 2010/12/31
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The 1928 explosion that transformed a West Plains dance hall into a raging inferno sparked feverish national media attention and decades of bitterness in the Missouri town it tore apart. And while the story inspired a popular country song, the firestorm that claimed thirty-nine lives remains an unsolved mystery. In this first book on the notorious catastrophe, Lin Waterhouse presents a clear account of the event and its aftermath that judiciously weighs conflicting testimony and deeply respects the personal anguish experienced by parents forced to identify their children by their clothing and personal trinkets.
Lin Waterhouse is a freelance writer who focuses on the historical curiosities of the Ozarks region. Her work has been published in the Ozarks Mountaineer, Ozarks Magazine, the Ozark County Times and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. After writing an anniversary piece about the mysterious 1928 dance hall explosion in West Plains, she continued researching the story that piqued her curiosity and offended her sense of historical justice. This book is the result.
Readers become acquainted with the people who were looking for a convivial gathering that was typical of their community along with the people who were living nearby and those who lived with the nightmare of survival. The class differences in terms of economy, but apparently not such divisive social terms as were prominent in much of society still in the decade of the 1920s.
Using family memories, notes, testimony and photos from the community, Lin Waterhouse puts seriously realistic faces on the people (not characters, but real life people) who where living in West Plains, Missouri that night.
A true cold case, there has been no determination of cause or identification of perpetrators for the Dance Hall Explosion. But, it wasn't a bad dream -- it really happened and 39 people died. Some never knew what hit them; many knew it more than any soul can endure.
The author includes some basic foundational history of West Plains, including Civil War troubles for many residents. Today, we think of West Plains and think of the fine Missouri State University there, the thriving business community and happier history as a center for Country Music with native resident, Porter Wagoner who was a babe in arms (8/1927 -- 10/2007) on that terrible spring evening. Some people still stop for a quiet moment at the memorial headstone marking the grave field sheltering the victims that could not be identified. I admire the spiritual bravery of their survivors who simply committed them to hometown soil together from the tunes of this plain until the music of eternity.
I highly recommend this book and this author. I'm proud to be personally and professionally acquainted with her and look forward to reading everything she writes. I bought this book on my Kindle and it is going to be a favorite that I will let my friends and family hold the precious Kindle for a chance to read.
Many names and places were familiar to me. I am related to Galloways, Weatherlys, Barnetts. My grandfather Judge C.R. Spradlin was an early settler, along with Howells and others.
I also read (twice) The Maid's Version by Daniel Woodrell- a new "fictionalized" account of the explosion. It was fascinating to try to figure out which "fictional" character might
have been modeled after which real person.
Between the two books and what I knew and could find out from others, I feel like I actually know "who-dun-it" in the eyes of Waterhouse and Woodrell. It was a fascinating look at local history.