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Bidding Information
Lot #    6867
Auction End Date    3/2/2004 2:46:00 PM (mm/dd/yyyy)
Title Information
Title (English)    33 Burned to Death
Title (Hebrew)    Victims of Greed and Corruption
Author    [Communist Party - USA]
City    Chicago
Publication Date    [1950]
Collection Information
Independent Item    This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
Description Information
   Broadside, 272:215 mm., age staining, torn in lower right with loss. Rare.
   Broadside by the Communist Party exploiting the Green Hornet Trolley Disaster in which the fates of 33 people were tragically changed in Chicago in 1950 because of a rainstorm. On the night of May 24, a sudden and torrential downpour flooded the 63rd Street underpass at State Street, making the road impassable for the electric CTA trolley cars. As trollies lacked the ability to maneuver around accidents and flooded areas they had to be diverted to alternate routes. On the morning of Thursday, May 25, the low-lying underpass at State Street remained flooded with rain water from the storm and so throughout that day, a flagman detoured southbound cars to a turnaround track on the east side of State Street, making 63rd Street the temporary end of the line. By rush hour, the area remained closed but this fact was apparently missed by the driver of the Green Hornet, Paul Manning.

Manning was driving a passenger packed Green Hornet at a speed that was estimated to be about 35 m.p.h., which was considered to be dangerously fast for the wet conditions. The CTA flagman was still in place at 62nd, one block north of the turnaround, and when he saw Manningís trolley come into view, he frantically began signaling the driver to slow down. Instead of slowing though, the streetcar continued speeding along the street. The flagman continued to wave and attempted to warn the driver that a switch in the track was open for a turn that would put the Green Hornet directly into the path of oncoming northbound travel.

In the opposite lane, heading north, a semi-trailer truck that was driven by Mel Wilson was also quickly approaching the viaduct. The semi-truck happened to be hauling 8,000 gallons of gasoline that was destined for south side filling stations.How Manning failed to see the flagmanís signal is unknown, but we do know that he was unaware of the closed underpass and also unaware of the open switch that was being used to bypass the trolleys. Itís likely that he simply thought that the car would clip right along on the route that he normally took. However, when the trolley hit the open switch track, it violently swung to the left, throwing the passengers aboard to the floor. Manning was last seen throwing up his hands and screaming in terror as the streetcar hurled through the intersection and rammed into the tanker truck. The impact ripped open the tankerís steel skin, creating a shower of sparks that immediately ignited the gasoline that was now flooding onto the street. The two vehicles erupted into a single fireball and incinerated the trolley.

At the time of the accident, every seat on the Green Hornet had been filled. The aisles had been filled with the people who had been jolted by the sudden turn and they suddenly felt the tremendous heat as the fire swept through the car. In the terror and confusion that followed, the trapped and charred victims pushed against the side doors, but they refused to open. The windows were covered with steel bars, making them useless as an escape route. Somehow, 30 people managed to crawl away from the scene, leaving 33 others behind to die.

The Broadside recurits members by blaming the Chicago administration for the disaster!

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Listing Classification
20th Century:    Checked
America-South America:    Checked
History:    Checked
First Editions:    Checked
Language:    English
Manuscript Type
Kind of Judaica
Posters:    Checked