Nellie’s Story – The General Slocum Fire
……….I guess there’re not many people around that remember the General Slocum. Right after it happened, the fire was all anybody talked about. People that hadn’t been within ten miles of the river were telling reporters what they’d seen and heard. Some tried to sell souvenirs to look-e-loo’s down by the river. I heard of a few folks who were arrested stealing from the makeshift morgue, but those are the kinds of things you talk about over the years so you don’t have to face reality. You know, the really important things you saw and heard that day you do everything in your power to forget.
I know that people who work in hospitals are usually pretty tough and sometimes tell god awful jokes about pretty grim situations in the OR, where I worked? Kiddin’ about having barbeque for dinner after amputating some old guy’s leg with the gout or takin’ a peak at some poor devil’s thingy when we’re supposed to be taking out his appendix. Stuff like that.
But there was nothing but silence when I finally got to the operating room that afternoon.
Everyone looked all surprised to see me, but I knew they were shorthanded. I mean the body count was so high that most family members didn’t even come to the hospital. They headed straight to the shoreline, then the church, and then the morgue. It was like they didn’t know where to start lookin’.
Me bein’ down by the river at all was a fluke I still can’t explain. [cont.]