Testimony of Charles M. Laugh (fireman)
Q. Were anybody's bodies found on the 8th floor?
A. No, sir.
Q. Anybody on the 10th floor?
A. No, sir.
Q. Please tell us where the bodies were.
A. I was on the 9th floor and I started to search for the bodies. I found two in a little crevice behind the dressing room. One right directly in front of it.
Q. Did you find any in front of the dressing room?
A. Yes, sir. I found eleven bodies in front of the dressing room.
Q. The shutters hung of the windows. What were they made of?
A. They were made of sheetiron or steel, whatever they make them of; either one.
Q. What was the condition of the shutters on the windows hung on the 9th floor?
A. They were all sprung and warped.
Testimony of William Bernstein (8th floor worker)
A. I was around the Greene Street side where I kept my clothes by the
second window near where the wooden partition was. My clothes were
on the wall on the Green Street side, between the second and third window,
starting from the partition.…I happened to be putting my coat on when I
was there with six or seven cutters, when somebody hollered out, "Fire!"
And near the window there were a few pails of water. And I grabbed
a pail of water and I spilled it on the fire and I couldn't make it out,
because the rags on the table caught fire....I went around on the partition
to get more water, and when I wanted to go back the door was blocked with
people going down the stairs, so I left everything stand and went out.
Q. When you first saw the fire was it near the end of the first or the second cutter's table?
A. Between the first and the second....
Q. Could you see whether that fire was on the floor underneath the cutter's tables?
A. On the floor. A few rags were burning. Rags would be thrown under the table....
Q. Your coat was hanging on the partition?
A. No, not on the partition.
Q. Right on the wall between the second and third window on the Green Street side?
Q. You went and you got a pail--a pail of water. Where did you find the pail?
A. Near the window.
Q. When you say the windows, which windows?
A. The second window of the Greene Street side. Full of water. I spilled it on the fire. I went to get some more water around the partition. I got over with the pail. When I wanted to go back in through the doorway the doorway was blocked with people going down.
Q. Did you find anybody on the stairs going down, that is the Green Street stairway?
A. Plenty of people going down.
Q. Did you see people coming down from the 9th floor?
A. Yes, sir.
Testimony of Ethel Monick (9th floor worker--age 16)
A. I seen the fire and then I seen all the girls rushing down
to the place to escape. So I tried to go through the Greene Street
door, and there were quick girls there and I seen I can't get out there,
so I went to the elevator, and then I heard the elevator fall down, so
I ran through to the Washington Place side, and I went over to the Washington
Place side and there wasn't any girls there, so I ran over the doors
and none was over there. So I went over to the door. I tried
the door and I could not open it, so I thought I was not strong enough
to open it, so I hollered girls here is a door, and they all rushed over
and they tried to open it, but it was locked and they hollered "the door
is locked and we can't open it!"
[Monick rises from her chair and demonstrates the effort to open the door.]
Q. Did you ever go up the stairs?
A. Only when I work on Sundays we have to go up the stairs....I wanted to go on the fire escape, but there were too many girls there. I could not go down, so I went away to see if I could find a better way.So I could not get out there, and I did not think that I could, and I thought that I would go down the elevator--that I would go down there that was. There were too many so I ran over the Greene Street door.
[Monick is asked if she ever asked Mr. Harris about the door.]
A. I did not ask him, I used to be afraid of him.
Q. You were afraid of Harris?
A. Sure. Mr. Harris we saw most of the time on the 9th floor. He used to come down sometimes and walk around four or five minutes.
Q. Did you ever see Mr. Blank?
A. No, not very often....
Q. You do like to argue some, don't you, little girl? You do not really mean to say that you were afraid of these two men, were you?
A. Not exactly afraid, but you know they are-- I was like nothing to them because I was only a working girl...Well, I know that when a girl don't do anything right, you know, she gets discharged. That is why I was afraid - that is why I did not talk to them.
Q. Were you just as quiet and calm at the time as you are now?
A. Just as I am now, because I was never in such a fire and I didn't know it was a fire, so I ran looking for an escape. I didn't know about being excited.
Q. The elevator was very full. Can you mention the name of a single girl that was on top of you?
A. Katie Weiner.
Testimony of Katie Weiner (9th floor cutter, age 17)
Q. As soon as you heard the cry of fire where did you go?
A. Back to the Washington Place corner. [I went to] the dressing room over at the Greene Street side where I started to call my sister. I went back again toward Greene Street where I was standing looking for her near the dressing room as I thought I could find her. I couldn't and I tried to run to the Greene Street and it was full of smoke. I couldn't and I turned back to the Washington Place side. Then I was trying, I was knocking at the elevator. I went back again from the Greene Street side toward Washington Place passenger elevator. I knocked at the door and thought the elevator would come up. But I seen he didn't come and the smoke was coming very thick. He didn't come up and I was choking with smoke. I couldn't stand it no more. I went to the window and I put my face out to get some air and I calmed down, I cried fire downstairs, and people were looking up. Then people pushed me toward the windows and I went away from the windows back again towards the elevator. Suddenly he came up and there was a whole lot of girls. They rushed there and I was pushed back. Then I seen the flames were coming up from Greene Street entrance toward Washington Place. I went back to the door. I always knew there was door because I couldn't help seeing it....
[Weiner demonstrates to the jury how she turned the knob.]
I pushed it toward myself and I couldn’t open it and then I pushed it inward and it wouldn't go and I then cried out "The door is locked!"
I stood back a little ways from the door and I stood right beside the door again. I stood right at the door still, and I was still crying, "Girls, help me!" I stood at the door til the last minute. Suddenly I see the Washington Place passenger elevator come up and all the girls that were at the door all went towards the elevator, and I went also. All the girls went to the elevator and I was pushed back again. Then the elevator went downstairs and I seen the flames were approaching quick and I left, and the elevator left the 9th floor. It went down. It went between, I should judge, about the 8th or 9th floor when I got hold of the cables and I threw myself in. The elevator had left the 9th floor but the door was left open. I got hold of the cable nearest toward my hand. The elevator was not far down yet. It was I think between the 8th and 9th floors. I landed - I don’t remember - on top of the girls' heads - on top of the elevator, and when I got down to the street my face was facing down and my feet were hurting me - my ankles were hurting on the doors, and I cried....
Testimony of Miss Kate Alterman (9th floor worker)
Q - Margaret Schwartz was with you at this time?
A- At this time, yes, sir.
Q- Then where did you go?
A - Then I went to the toilet room, Margaret disappeared from me, and I wanted to go up Greene street side, but the whole door was in flames, so I went in hid myself in the toilet rooms and bent my face over the sink, and then ran to the Washington side elevator, but there was, a. big crowd and, I couldn't pass through there. I noticed some one, a whole crowd around the door and I saw the Bernstein, the manager's brother trying to open the door, and there was Margaret near him.
Bernstein tried the door, he couldn't open it and then Margaret began to open the door. I take her on one side I pushed her on the side and I said, "Wait, I will open that door." I tried, pulled the handle in and out, all ways--and I couldn't open it. She pushed me on the other side, got hold of the handle and then she tried. And then I saw her bending down on her knees, and her hair was loose, and the trail of her dress was a little far from her, and then a big smoke came and I couldn't see I just know it was Margaret, and I said, "Margaret," and she didn't reply. I left Margaret, I turned my head on the side, and I noticed the trail of her dress and the ends of her hair begin to burn. Then I ran in, in small dressing room that was on the Washington side, there was a big crowd and I went out from there, stood in the center of the room. Between the machines and between the examining tables, I noticed afterwards on the other side, near the Washington side windows, Bernstein, the manager's brother throwing around like a wildcat at the window, and he was chasing his head out of the window, and pull himself back. He wanted to jump, I suppose, but he was afraid. And then I saw the flames cover him. I noticed on the Greene street side someone else fell down on the floor and , the flames cover him. And then I stood in the center of the room, and I just turned my coat on the left side with the fur to my face, the lining on the outside, got hold of a bunch of dresses that was lying on the examining table not burned yet, covered my head and tried to run through the flames on the Greene street side. The whole door was a red curtain of fire. A young lady came and she began to pull me in the back of my dress and she wouldn't let me in. I kicked her with my foot and I don't know what became of her. I ran out thorough the Greene street side door, right through the flames on to the roof.
Q...When you were standing toward the middle of the floor had you a pocketbook with you?.
A...Yes, sir, my pocketbook began to burn already, but I pressed it to my heart to extinguish the fire.
Q...And you put the fire out on your pocketbook?
Cross-examination by Mr. Steuer
Q...Did you have a sister working in the place?
A. No, sir.
Q. When did you come from Philadelphia?
A. I came about the 20th of November, the 18th or the 20th of November, I do not remember: the date.
Q. And you have been here ever since?
A No, sir, I left after the fire.
Q Oh, you mean that you came about the 18th or 20th of November before the fire?
A Yes, sir.
Q I mean when did you come here to testify?
A The day of the trial.
Q When was that?
A On two weeks ago Monday.
Q And you came from Philadelphia?
A Yes, sir.
Q And you have been here since that time?
A Yes, sir.
Q And you were not put on the stand here until you are the last, is that the idea?
A I don't know whether I was kept to the last, or first, but I was not on the witness stand.
Q You know you have been kept for over two weeks from Philadelphia?
A Yes, sir.
Q Where have you been living?
A In the Bronx.
Q. And your home in Philadelphia?
A Yes, sir.
Q. With whom?
A With my parents, now.
Q And your parents reside there in Philadelphia and you have been you have been willing to go on the witness stand since you have been here, haven't you?
A Yes, sir.
Q And you have been down to court, have you?
A Yes, sir.
Q And you went away from court each afternoon and came down next morning?
A Yes, sir.
Q Spent the day down here in one of the offices in the building?
A Yes, sir.
Q Before you came down here this last time, to come down every day for two weeks, when did you see anybody from the District Attorney's office before that?
Q And you were down here on Saturday, too, were you?
A Yes, sir.
Q And did you go anywhere with Mr. Rubin and Mr. Bostwick?
A Yes, sir.
Q They took you up to the building, did they?
A Yes, sir.
Q And they went along?
A Yes, sir.
Q And they pointed out to you where the Washington Place door is?
A I had to point it out to them.
Q You were taken right over to the Washington Place door, weren't you?
A I took them to the Washington Place door.
Q They didn't know where, it was?
A I don't know whether they knew or not, but they asked me to show it to them.
Q Well they took you all over the floor, didn't they?
A I took them all over the floor.
Q You, took Mr. Bostwick and Mr. Rubin all over the floor?
A Yes, sir.
Q You have never gone there before in all the two weeks you were in New York, had you?
A No, sir.
Q. And how was the appointment made for Saturday?
A Mr. Rubin told me to come, he. wants to see me. He showed me the plan and asked me to show on the plan where I saw Margaret last; I couldn't show him very well on the plan for I picked it in my mind the place as if it were before the fire, and he couldn't make it out very well with me there, and he took me to the place and, he told me to show him exactly the place.
Q All that. you have told us about that was that she was right up against the door, isn't that so?
A She was right near the door.
Q_Well now, that was right alongside the Washington Place door?
A She was right, near the door with her hands at the knob.
Q With her hands at the knob?
A At the knob.
Q. But you couldn't tell him that before you went up to the loft?
A Well, I don't believe I told him - I think I told him, I am not sure, though for when I gave my statement first I was sick that time.
Q And so you did take it the same way as you are making it now?
A I'm made it the same way, just the same way.
Q Did you tell then that she was with her hand on the knob?
A I, don't remember exactly whether I told the knob or not, for it was nine months ago.
Q Did you ever have a sister that visited you at the place?
A I never did.
Q Have you got a sister at all?
A I have a sister, yes, sir.
Q How many?
A I have five sisters.
Q Does one of your sisters live in New York?
A No, sir, they never did.
Q Are you the only one that was working in New York?
A Yes, sir.
Q Now I want you to tell me your story over again, just as you told it before.
A What, kind of story do you mean?
Q-You told us before that you had gone to the dressing room, do you remember that?
A Yes, sir before I heard the cry of fire.
Q And then it was in the dressing room that you heard the cry of fire?
A Yes, sir.
Q Now tell us what you did when you heard the cry of fire.
A I went out form the dressing room, went to the Waverly side windows to look for fire escapes, I didn't find any and Margaret Schwartz was with me, afterwards she disappeared. I turned away to get to Greene Street side, but she disappeared, she disappeared from me. I went to the toilet rooms, I went out from the toilet rooms, bent my face over the sink, and then went to the Washington side to the door, trying to open the door, but there I saw Bernstein, the manager's brother, trying to open the door; but he couldn't; he left; and Margaret was there too, and she tried to open the door and she could not. I pushed her on a side. I tried to open the door, and I couldn't and then she pushed me on the side and she said, "I will open the door," and she tried to open the door. And then a big smoke came and Margaret Schwartz I saw bending down on her knees, her hair was loose and her dress was on the floor and little far from her and then she screamed at the top of her voice, "Open the door! Fire! I am lost, there is fire!" and I went away from Margaret. I left, stood in the middle of the room, went in the middle of the room, between the machines and examining tables, and then I went in I say Bernstein, the manager's brother, throwing around the windows, putting his head from the window - he wanted to jump, I suppose but he was afraid -he drawed himself back, and then I saw the flames cover him. And some other man on the Greene Street side, the flames covered him, too, and then I turned my coat on the wrong side and put it on my head with the fur to my face, the lining on the outside, and I got hold of a bunch of dresses and covered up the top of my head. I just got ready to go and somebody came and began and began to chase me back, pulled my dress back, and I kicked her with the foot and she disappeared. I tried to make my escape. I had a pocketbook with me, and that pocketbook began to burn, I pressed it to my heart to extinguish the fire, and I made my escape right through the flames - the whole door was a flame right to the roof.
Q It looked like a wall of flame?
A Like a red curtain.
Q Now, there was something in that you left out, I think, Miss Alterman. When Bernstein was jumping around, do you remember what that was like? Like a wildcat, wasn't it?
A Like a wildcat.
Q You left that out the second time. How long have you lived in Philadelphia?
Mr. Bostwick: There being no question predicated upon that I move that that statement be stricken out.
The Court: Yes, I will strike it out.
Mr. Steuer: I except.
(Mr. Steuer continues cross-examination)
Q You did leave that out didn't you, just now, when you told us about
Bernstein, that he jumped around like a wildcat?
A Well, I didn't imagine whether a wildcat or a wild dog; I just speak to imagine just exactly.
Q How long have you lived Philadelphia?
A For nine years.
Q Was that the only time you were in New York?
A Yes, sir.
Q Altogether you spent in New York how many months?
A Four months.
Q And during those four months were you working in this same place?
A Yes sir.
Q Was that the only time you worked in New York?
A The only time, yes, sir.
Q When you were at work where did you sit?
A At work?--on the Washington side, the third table.
Q You mean the third table from the Washington Place side?
A Yes, sir.
Q And about where on that table did you sit?
A About where? Well how many machines from the end?
A I couldn't tell you exactly.
Q I don't want you to be exact. .Just give us an idea. so that we can picture it here.
A Well about six machines probably or five machines. I don't know exactly.
Q From the Washington Place window?
A No, sir, from the other side. From the Washington Place side was about seven or eight machines.
Q Well, at any rate, that would put you pretty near the middle of the table, wouldn't it?
A Yes, sir pretty near, crossing the door.
Q Now you heard the signal or bell for the shutting off of the power, didn't you?
A Yes, sir.
Q Then you got up and left your table, is that it?
A Yes, sir.
Q And was it at that time that you went to the dressing room?
A Yes, sir .
Q That was the only time you went to the dressing room, was it?
A Yes, sir.
Q And of course I am speaking of that afternoon, I meant that afternoon.
A Of that day, yes, sir.
Q Now could you tell us again what you did after that time?
A After going out from the dressing room?
A I went out to the Waverly. side windows to look for fire escapes. Margaret Schwartz was with me, and then Margaret disappeared. I called her to Greene street, she disappeared and I went into the toilet room, went out, bent my face over the sink, and then I wanted to go to the Washington side, to the elevator. I saw, there a big crowd, I couldn't push through. I saw around the Washington side door a whole lot of people standing, I pushed through and there I saw Bernstein, the manager's brother, trying to open the door; he could not and he left Margaret Schwartz was there, she tried to open the door and she could not. I pushed Margaret on the side, and tried to open the door, I could not. And then Margaret pushed me on the side, and she tried to open the door. But smoke came and Margaret bent on her knees; her trail was a little far from her, just spreading on, the floor far from her and her hair was loose, and I saw the ends of her dress and-- the ends of her hair began to burn. I went into the small dressing room, there was a big crowd, and I tried - I stood there and I went out right away, pushed through and went out and then I stood in the center of the room.between the examining tables and the machines. Then I noticed the Washington side windows--Bernstein, the manager's brother, trying to jump from the window, he stuck his head out - he wanted to jump, I suppose but he was afraid. Then he would draw himself back, then I saw the flames cover him. He. jumped liked a wildcat on the walls. And then I stood, took my coat, turning the fur to my head, the lining to the outside got a hold of a bunch of dresses that was lying on the table and covered my head, and I just wanted to go and some lady came she began to pull the back of my dress; I kicked her with the foot and I don't where she got to. And then I had a purse with me and that purse began to burn, I pressed it to my heart to extinguish the fire. The whole door was a flame, it was a red curtain of fire, and I went right on the roof.
Q You never spoke to anybody about what you were going to tell us when you came here, did you?
A No, sir.
Q You have got father and a mother and four sisters?
A Five sisters. I have a father, I have no mother - I have a stepmother.
Q And you never spoke to anybody else about it?
A No, sir.
Q They never asked you about it?
A They asked me and I told her once, and then they stopped me; they didn't want me to talk anymore about it.
Q You told them once and then they stopped you and you never talked about it again?
A I never did.
Q And you didn't study the words in which you would tell it?
A No, sir.
Q Do you remember that you got out to the center of the floor - do you remember?
A I remember I got through the Greene Street side door.
Q You remember that you did get to the center of the floor, don't you?
A Between the machines and the examining tables, in the center.
Q Now tell us from there what you did; start at that point now instead of at the beginning.
A In the beginning I saw Bernstein on the Washington side, Bernstein's brother, through around like a wildcat; he wanted to jump, I suppose but he was afraid. And then he drawed himself back and the flames covered him up. And I took my coat, turned it on the wrong side with the fur to my face end .the lining on the outside, got hold of a bunch of dresses from the examining table, covered up my head, and I wanted to run. And then a lady came she began to pull my dress back, she wanted to pull me back, and I kicked her with my foot - I don't know where she got to and I ran out through the Greene street side door, which was in flames; it was a red curtain of fire on that door to the roof.
Q You never studied those words did you?
A No, sir.
Re-direct examination by Mr. Bostwick
Q Now, Miss Alterman, each time that you have answered Mr. Steuer's
question you have tried to repeat it in the same language that you first
told it here in court, have you not?
A Yes, sir..
Q And you remember every detail of that story as well today as if it had happened yesterday?
A. Yes, sir.
Q And it is all true?
A Yes, sir.
Re-cross examination by Mr. Steuer
Q Can you tell that story in any other words than those you have told
A In any other words? I remember it this way, just exactly how it was done.
Q Will you please answer my question? Could you tell it in any other words than the words you have told it in here three and half times.
A Probably I can....
Questioned by Mr. Bostwick
Q As a matter of fact you did on Saturday, didn't you?
A Yes, sir.
Q And as a matter of fact you did in that statement use different words than you have stated now?
A Yes, sir.
Q And you could repeat over whatever you told me on Saturday, in those other words?
A Yes, sir.
Q And you could repeat over your statement that you made, in other words?
A Yes; sir.
Q And the reason you have repeated
Mr. Steuer: You make a mighty good question but please answer one.
The Court: I am waiting to hear objections.
Mr. Bostwick: I withdraw the question.
Q Will you state to the jury why you tried to repeat the last time what you told Mr. Steuer in the same language-that you used the time you told Mr. Steuer?
A Because he asked me the very same story over and over.
Q And did you think you have to tell it in the same words?
A No, I didn't think. I just told the way he asked me to say it over and over, and I told him in the same words.
Q I have not spoken to you since recess, have I?
A No, sir.
Q Not a word.
A No, sir.
By Mr. Steuer:
Q You say you can tell the jury the same words you used in your written
A Probably I can. My written statement was nine months ago.
Mr. Bostwick: I offer the statement to the jury.
Q Tell us the words in the statement, please now.
The Court: Answer the question.
A Shall I tell you just as in the statement?
Q Yes, the words in the statement.
A Well, I gave a very long statement, I believe, to Mr. Rubin.
Q Now, start with the words in the statement, please, and not an explanation, Miss, if you can. Tell us just how you started the statement, and then give us the words that are in the statement?
A Well, it would be 4.45 on Saturday, I think that I started the beginning of the statement, I can't do it to you.
Q Mr. Bostwick asked you before whether you could tell again in the same words of the statement and you said "yes." Now I suppose you did not understand the question that way, did you?
A No, sir, I did not.
Fannie Selmanowitz (examiner, 9th floor)
A-- …I seen those awful flames from the Greene Street side, sound so
loud and the glass coming out with something, and the girls around the
windows jumping, all around, it made me think I was - my last moment had
come then.....It took very long for [the elevator on the Greene Street
side] to come up....I was over at the windows and I seen the doorway open.
I didn't know what it was, whether the staircase for the elevator.
Suddenly, he had started away. I just got in. If he had closed
the door I would never have gotten in that elevator. I was rubbing
against the walls going down the shaft. As the elevator was going
down slowly in the dark I was rubbing against the walls, I was so far on
Q-- Could anybody else get into that car after you got in?
A-- Not even a pin.
Lena Yaller (operator, 9th floor, age 19)
A--…My dressing room was near the elevator near Washington Place, so
as soon as I took my pocketbook I had heard a girl holler "Fire!."
I wanted to turn my face so then I seen this girl- you know, she was a
very jolly girl. She used to like very much to fool us, often saying "Here
comes the boss," "Here comes the floorlady"--and there was nothing.
So when I turned my face and I saw she is the one, why than I didn't pay
any attention to her afterwards. Just continued my work in the dressing
room. When I got near the dressing room, then smoke was coming up
all around us, in my face and in all the windows, up by all the windows,
so I wanted to run my face back. I saw flames coming up from the
Greene Street side. I wanted to turn around to Greene Street, so
instead of going to Greene Street the girls were crowded around that place
waiting for the Washington elevator, because I seen all the girls were
out at that Washington Place. They pushed me into the dressing room,
so I could not see anything else. It got very dark and I felt a draft
so I wanted to go out, so I seen some breezes coming out from someplace,
so I wanted to make my way over to see where it came from. I seen
it came from the Greene Street window. Near the Greene Street it
was a window and there is was near the elevator, so I wanted to and made
my way through the door I wanted. As soon as I pass I seen the examining
tables were all burning. As I was passing by I seen smoke.
You can see everything burning and I seen the rest of the girls remained
in the dressing room, so when I passes the window I opened the window.
The window, I saw, opened down, so I wanted to open the window. It
opened double, and opened out, and so I burned my knee from the steam heat,
so I turned back and stood there about two or three minutes. Of course
it seemed more than four hours from me, but I knocked at the elevator that
it should come up, and I seen- I turned my face and I seen the door was
burning from the elevator - the door was burning from the doors, that door
was burning in the factory, so I wanted to jump out of the roof, to go
upstairs on the roof, so I burned my arm, my head, my hair and all, but
I went on the roof and then some fellows from the Washington Place took
me out together on the roof....
All the people what I left in the dressing room are all dead....
Steuer--Do you think you could tell those words over - you could tell
them in the same words again?
A--I could tell them ten times.
Q-- How many times have you told this in the same words before? How many times, Miss Yaller, have you told it in the same words before?
A-- I have told it about five times, first to my friends, then to the District Attorney, before the Grand Jury, and now, about four or five times. I can remember it now.
Q-- All right, thank you very much.
George F. Dunn (Engine Company 33)
A-- When we arrived we took a high pressure hydrant that was on
the southeast corner of Greene Street and Washington Place and stretched
the standpipe connection on the outside of the building, then went to the
8th floor and connected to the outlet of the standpipe, then to the 9th
floor. 72 engine was the first to get there. 72 was connecting
there at the time to the 7th floor and stretching their hose to the 8th
floor and intending to enter the building on the 8th floor. We connected
on the 8th floor and went to the 9th floor....No girls were coming down
the Washington Place stairway...I think it was between 8 and 9 minutes,
that is 8 and 9 minutes after the alarm came in, and it is probable that
those who could have come down from the 8th floor had already done so.
Q-- ....Did you see bodies, this is when you entered the 9th floor?
A-- Yes, sir, to the best of my opinion they were about 15 or 18 feet inside of the building to the left.
Thomas Meechem (Engine Company 33)
A--....I got to the 8th floor, I connected [the hose] on the 8th floor
and then went up to the 9th.
Q-- What part of the door was left - this was the 9th floor door?
A-- The stiles, each side and at the bottom. The two sides each side were standing upright and the piece at the bottom was standing there, an upright panel at the bottom. I helped to kick it in.
John D. Moore (a consultant engineer employed by the District Attorney)
A--...The hinges [on the door] were on the right hand side; that is to say, if you stood inside the Washington Place loft, the hinges would have been on the side to the right. That is to say, if you were facing the door on the inside of the loft the handle to the door, if it had one, would be on your left hand. Now a door which moved in that direction is known as a left-handed door. So much of the inner surface, that is of the door, is charred away that I cannot state with absolute certainty just what the thickness of the door was.
(At this point, the Judge directs the jury to leave the box and take their places near People's Exhibit 29.)
A--...They [the staircases] were identical. The only difference is in the width of the stairwell, and the Greene Street end is 41/2 inches wide than the Washington Place side. From the ground floors upward the Greene Street stairs were worn very much more than the Washington Place stairs. The Washington Place stairs showed substantially no wear....The hose [in the Washington Place stairs]-- the hose was gone, burned away - it was burned or torn away - there were a few fragments of it hanging to the branch connection....The handrail on the landing in front of the 9th floor was scorched, not burnt, on the side toward the door....The handrail directly opposite the doorway - the horizontal handrail - was scorched on the side to the door - that's 9th floor. The hose on that landing was almost destroyed but still on the rack. There was a hose rack to support the body of the hose, and the coupling was attached to the valve and the hose was folded flat and the edges badly scorced, so that the hose was useless. That is Washington Place, 8th floor.
A-- Yes, sir, the legs [on the tables holding the sewing machines]
were screwed down to the floor and the table tops were attached to the
Q-- When you say the premises, were the legs still screwed to the floor?
A-- Yes, sir, very many of them were still substantially upright....The tables were bout four feet wide, there were three spaces, the outer space consisted of a working table, the center space consisted of a trough into which the work fell, that was about 10 inches deep, and the next outer space was another table....When we cleared away the debris [on the ninth floor] we found that in many spots the floor was completely destroyed, burned right down to the cinder fill underneath.
A-- The fire escape was of the ladder and balcony open type and protected by no partition or enclosure of any kind, and the ladder from the roof to the 10th floor was known as a goose-neck ladder; that is, a ladder extending above the roof with a couple of handrails so as to make access to the roof. It was a vertical ladder leading from the roof to the 10th floor but all other ladders throughout the fire escape until one passed the 1st floor inclined at an angle of 60 degrees substantially. The platforms were 3"5' wide and 14"6' long. The ironwork, or iron floor, of the fire escape balcony was flush with the lower side of the window sill, which brought it precisely to 23' above the floor of the loft, so that in order to reach it a person would have to stop about 29 to 30 inches and then step down 7 inches, and he says substantially all of the ladder was behind masonry work. The lower foot and a half of it projected past the glass. I may say there ladders are on the outside edges of the balcony, the remote side from the building.
Argument over admission of the lock believed to have come from the Washington Place ninth-floor door
Steuer for the defense, objecting to the introduction of the lock
On March 25th a fire occurred and on March 26th all the conscience of the city is stirred by the terrible catastrophe that has occurred. The newspapers published everything that can be published in the way of door is already made public by every citizen. Hundreds upon hundreds of people go into that debris and seek the bodies, and the Fire Department makes a conclusive and minute and detailed search into that debris, and the whole question that is being agitated in the press day after day is locks, lock, locks, and the door was locked, and pictures of the doors, your Honor, and nothing is found, when on the 10th of April, as from a clear sky, a detective goes to the premises and as the reports show at that time within 25 minutes a lock is discovered, to show that that lock was the lock of the premises when they have had the lockmaker go over it and he refuses to say that is was the lock. When they have had the man who went over every lock in that building and said it cannot be proved that that was the lock and then bring in a piece of stanchion on a alleged, or whatever you call it, on an alleged portion that somebody kicked in something on the 9th floor and seek 15 days after that fire to say that was the look of the door. Why argue this, where is the lock of the 10th floor, where the fire did not do damage, where is the lock to the 6th floor, where the fire did not touch it? A most mysterious disappearance. The lock of the 6th floor which is covered by a fire door, as an exhibit in this case shows, hung with an iron door, but right after discovery by the newspapers of this lock there is no lock on the 6th floor; and every one of the lock, may it please your Honor, in that building was identical with the 10th floor down to the basement, and no lock on the 8th floor, your Honor, has been discovered. Why, I ask, is there no lock for the 10th floor that has been discovered up to the present time. But the one lock that is wanted that is found on the 10th day of April, and they say that exclusive opportunity has nothing to do with this case? I don't care whether you call it exclusive opportunity or anything else, is it to be really urged upon Your Honor that the lock that the tongue, I think you call it, has extended on the 10th day of April, 1911, is the slightest evidence that the lock had its tongue extended on the 25th day of March, 1911. Is it even to be suggested in a civilized country where the jurisprudence is practiced as it is practiced here, when everybody seeks a lock, when you find one on the floor, make it competent when you find it on the 10th day of April. And yet the District Attorney says you do not need any evidence to fill in that hiatus.
Mr. Bostwick for the prosecution in reply to Steuer's argument:
We have very clear and distinct evidence that the three locks of the dressing rooms were padlocks. This is not a padlock. We have in evidence that the toilets were never locked. The only two doors that this could have belonged to were the door on the Greene Street side and the Washington Place door. Now, the Washington Place door, the other was a right-handed door. If we shall obtain evidence that this is not a right-handed door, that evidence has probative force that it belonged to that door. It is found near the door. We will attempt to introduce evidence here of the putting on of this identical lock by the identical man who put that lock on that door, and we will trace it from manufacturer to the jobber, to the workman who put it on the door, and he will identify your lock. The evidence has probative force. The locks were not all alike in that building, and this lock was put on later.
(The judge announces that he will, for now, leave the question open about admitting the exhibit.)
Francis Flynn (Detective Bureau)
A-- I saw them pick it [the disputed ninth-floor door lock] under from among the rubbish; it was the floor....about 11 and a half feet from the doorway.
John D. Moore (engineer)
A-- On the 9th floor the movable door on the northerly passenger elevator was missing. With that exception all of the elevators doors on that floor were intact. Now, with respect to the doors leading into the two dressing rooms of the Washington Place side. Those were quite gone, Your Honor. There was nothing left there but tiny strips of wood, and the floor well short little stubby pieces of wood to indicate where they had once been....
A-- A right-hand door is a door which when opening swings in the same direction as the hands of a clock move, and a left-hand door is s door which in opening moves in the opposite direction, that is against the hands of the clock....
Cross-examination by Steuer:
A-- The latch is provided, like most locks, with a live bolt which moves either with the action of the knob or is thrown back by coming in contact with what is known as the strike, the is the metal portion which is fixed in the jamb of the door, so that in closing the door one can either close it by holding the knob and releasing the knob when the door is closed, or else it would merely push the door and the spring actuating the live bolt will close it. In order that that can be accomplished by means of the spring, the bevel on the latch has to be such that the beveled portion will collide upon the strike and will be gradually thrown back instead of coming into direct contact with it. Unless the bevel does collide upon the strike, the door won't close into the jamb. Consequently, if the bevel was on the wrong direction, a push on the door won't close it; it won't stay shut after it is closed, even with a knob. A push on the other side will open it.
[ Bostwick offers People's Exhibit #30, the disputed door lock, for identification:]
It having been shown that it could not have been right-hand door by the evidence, it could not have been a toilet door, it could not have been on the partition which is only 7/8 inch, it was found on the 9th floor, in conjunction with the fact that there is some evidence in this case that the door was found locked. Taken in connection with the fact that at the time of the fire none of the dressing rooms were locked, there were nothing but padlocks on the dressing room; and also in connection with the fact that the toilet rooms were never locked, and that is was found 20  and 1/2 feet from the Washington Place doorway and that it should go to the Jury.
Josie Nicolosi (8th floor worker)(concerning ninth-floor dances)
A-- I was standing by my machine, I had my back to the Greene Street side; I heard someone holler "Fire!", and I turned around and I see it was at the cutting tables, and I ran to Washington Place door. There were about 30 girls when I reached the door; they were trying to open the door with all their might and they couldn’t open the door.
(She shows how she tried to open the door.)
We were all hollering; we didn't know what to do. Then Louie Brown hollered, "Wait girls, I will open the door for you." We all got on the side and he passes by and opened the door and with the key he twisted the lock, and we went downstairs and got out. There was a crowd that came down after me. I had tried the door many other times in dinner hour but it was never open. It was always kept locked....
Q-- Do you remember when they had a phonograph on the 9th floor?
A-- Yes, sir, I do.
Q-- Do you remember that you girls used to go up on the 9th floor and dance?
A-- Yes, sir.
Q-- How did you go up on the 9th floor and dance?
A-- Always from the Greene Street.
Q-- There was not a single girl that went up from the Washington Place side?
A-- I never went, and I never seen any.
Q-- These people supplied the phonograph and kept the floors clean for you so that the girls could come up from the 8th or 9th floor and enjoy themselves during the dinner hour, didn't they?
A-- But because - -
Q-- Did they or didn't they?
A-- Because we had a strike, and they wanted us to work for them so they treated us nice when they had the strike, not afterwards, but the doors was always locked at the Washington Place side. We went upstairs because Mr. Blank used to give prizes to the girl that used to dance better, and we went upstairs to see them. After the strike did we didn't have no phonograph at all.
Q-- What became of them?
A-- I don't know; they didn't play no more phonographs.
Irene Seivos (8th floor worker)
A-- ...I make trimmings, braiding for dresses and waists -everything
and worked in the 5th row from the Washington Place side, the 2nd machine
from Washington Square....I was ready to dress myself to go home, and when
I heard the scream of fire so I was looking, I thought it was maybe on
the lower, maybe on the 7th floor, or where. So I jumped and I was
looking where and I saw the girls running from the Greene Street side and
the other girls were running to the Washington Place door. I could
not go because the machine was so close to go, I could not go to the door,
so I jumped over the machines and I went to the Washington Street side,
the Washington door. I saw there many girls, they were screaming
the door is locked, the door is locked. I went in the partition from
the elevator and I went from the elevator. I saw the elevator it
went up to the 9th floor or the 10th floor, so when he came back I saw
he did not stop the 8th. floor and I was screaming. There were more
girls screaming. I broke the windows on the elevators and I was screaming
fire, fire , and after I jumped I saw I saw it was no hope. I went
to the window.
Q-- How did you get out of the building?
A-- With the elevator.
Minnie Wagner (8th floor worker)
A--....I trimmed and made the whole waist. In the center of the
shop there were 5 lines and I was on the 5th line in the center....I
first ran for the elevator, and the girls were standing there and I saw
that the elevator did not come up, and then I ran for the other door and
there I met Eva Harris.
Q-- Is that the sister of the defendant?
A-- I think so. And she tried the door.
Q-- What did she say?
A-- She could not open it and she cried "Mein God, the door is locked!" I was standing in the door, I was crying for help.
Kate Gartman (9th floor operator)
A-- I was in the dressing room. Kate Alterman, Margaret
Swartz, and I were dressing ourselves in the dressing room, we ran to the
Greene Street door over the machines because it was too crowded through
the girls....I turned back to the elevator doors. In going to the
elevator doors there is a partition. I had seen Margaret Swartz grab
hold of the partition. I don't know--she kind of leaned or fell toward
the small dressing room. Then I have seen the elevator come up and
I tried to push myself into the elevator, that is how I got down.…I saw
them jumping, then I reminded myself I was on the 9th floor, I will get
A-- Well, I was cool and nice and calm, you know. If I was excited, I would have jumped through the window.
Q-- Sure, now when you are nice and cool and calm that way, you got to a window?
A-- I was as cool and calm as you are here.
Q-- Now, I'm not half as cool as you think I am.
A-- Well, this I don’t know.
A--…The girls were all standing at the stairway door. Therefore, they were not at the elevator because the elevator wasn't up. Why should they stand there at the elevator, for to look and watch it? They can't jump into the elevator, they'll get killed just as well as from the window. They can't stand and watch the elevator. They were trying to break the door open. That is what the girls was trying to do. You are trying to tell me I don’t know what. Well, I wasn't in their hearts, I don't know how they felt, but everybody wanted to open the door....
A-- …There was a lot of smoke when I went out of the dressing room-there was a lot of smoke.
Q-- Much more smoke?
A-- How should I tell you, a pound more, or a half a pound more, I don't know.
Q-- No, not a half a pound or a quarter pound or ten pounds.
A-- There was more smoke positively.
Q-- Tell me if it looked as if there was more smoke then.
Q-- But it was perfectly easy to see all over, wasn't it?
A-- No, it was dark by smoke. Not all over; where the flames were it was light.
John Williams (Commissioner of the Department of Labor)
Bostwick: Is there any notice given to the proprietors of the various factories that an inspector is coming down to inspect their premises?
Answer: Not with our consent.
Question: You mean if it is given you don't know anything about it?
Answer: I do not; moreover, we punish if we find out that that is done.
Bostwick: …This is the Labor Department's visit report of William W. Walling, November 2, 1909, Report No. 12,887, on a verbal complaint: "Inspected 8th, 9th, 10th. Visits made as the result of telephone conversations complaining as to lack of toilets, water, etc. Three children under 16 were illegally employed. Prosecution to ensue. There are no wash sinks on any of the three floors. Filtered drinking water is provided, and proprietor claims this is used for washing. Several girls stated they knew of no wash room or sink. Strike on at present; about half the force working. Usual number of females, 9th floor 200, 8th floor 160. Orders: Tenant to remove obscene markings from walls of all water closets, private dressing rooms for females on 8th, 9th and 10th floor. Owner to provide suitable wash rooms on all floors occupied by Triangle Waist. Owner to provide three additional toilets on 9th floor and two additional on 8th floor, for use of women. Owner to whitewash or paint walls in halls and stairways...."
The Court: On this exhibit which Mr. Steuer is reading, which has been received in evidence as F, on top of the certain printed matter there are little nick marks, little marks of the pen, check marks. What do there indicate?
Answer: In some cases it indicated an affirmative, while I think there are a few instances where the opposite is the case in that report. Persons employed exclusive of working mangers, etc., male 18 years or over. 2 shops, 44; total number 44. Regular weekly hours of labor in 2 shops, 52.
Question: The next is unlocked during working hours, and a check mark over that. What do you mean by that?
Answer: It means that the Inspector found doors unlocked if the check is over unlocked.
Bostwick: I show you Defendant's Exhibit F and ask you if you did not testify in regard to that that the check over the words open out practical, that that meant that it was practicable?
Answer: I did before I examined the card.
Question: Well, I have it on my notes that you testified that the report indicated to the Department that it was practicable
Answer: I did because according to the reading by Mr. Steuer I was lead to believe that the check was over the word practical.
Question: Well, now do you wish to correct that testimony in any regard?
Answer: I don't want to indulge in any misunderstanding, Commissioner,
Question: I simply want your best understanding of this evidence.
Answer: I am answering now as to what it means, that the check appears to be between the words "out" and "practical."
Question: So that now after looking at that card you cannot say whether it was reported whether it was practicable or impracticable:
Answer: So far as this inspection is concerned, that is so.
Question: You don’t know whether it was practical to have these doors open out?
Answer: I do not.
Question: and if the check is placed between two words which are part and parcel of the same subject matter and to receive one bit of information it would be impossible from the location of the check mark to tell whether the information was affirmative or negative?
Question: On these reports where they are required to make returns as to person in authority seen by deputy, what are meant by the words in person in authority?
Answer: The person holding some authoritative relation to the concern inspected.
Question: You wold not suppose that to mean a telephone operator, would you, in a factory?
Answer: Ordinarily, no.
Question: You would expect it to be someone who had some connection with the establishment in some superior position, would you not?
Question: I ask you to look at Defendant's Exhibit H and ask you to state who in the Inspector reported in that instance to have been the person in authority.
Answer: The Inspector reports having seen Edna Barry, telephone girl.
Question: And you had knowledge after this report was made to you Department that it was a telephone girls that was the person in authority that he had seen?
Question: Was this report perfectly satisfactory to you after you had that knowledge?
Answer: Yes, sir.
Question: You inspect a number of factories, don't you?
Answer: You mean personally?
Question: No, your Department.
Answer: We do.
Question: Do you know as a matter of fact that this was the largest shirtwaist factory in New York State?
Answer: I do not.
Opening Statement for the Defense by Max Steuer
Steuer: I have no opening to make, Mr. Bostwick. It is a case that to my mind is perfectly clear. There is not anything that I know about the manufacturing business.
Court: You do not propose to open, Mr. Steuer?
Steuer: No, I am going to put witnesses right on, and I wash to get through just as quickly as possible, and I respectfully ask that we now adjourn.
Bostwick: I think it may be within the province and privilege of counsel to determine the extent to which he likes to open to the jury. I think he ought to outline the theory of his defense.
Court: It is entirely optional
Steuer: If you want me to, if you think it will help the People's case or will clarify the subject, I will be delighted to do it, thought I do not consider that my kind of talk is at ta premium anywhere. Do you want me to tell you what my defense is?....We intend to show that the tables and machines that were put into these lofts were put in by the Singer Sewing Machine Company, that they supplied the whole table, that we did not make them, had nothing to do with making them, that they are standard, highest class, best improved machine used in any shirtwaist factory in the country. We propose to show the same thing with relation to the cutting tables.
….We propose to show people walked up through that door and equally so on the 9th and 10th floors, that the steps on the Washington Place side were very, very rarely used, that there was not the slightest occasion for the use of that door except by following people, painters who were there in September 1910. There was not a machine running on the 9th floor at that time, there was not a girl working on the 9th floor. Everything was moved down to the 8th floor and the landlord made a new floor for us, and we had the place painted up on the 9th floor. Here he talks about the plumbers and the painters and the carpenters, all of whom apparently used the doors during that period. So what?
….We will tell you that he turned the key in the door. He will tell you that the key did not turn, and he will tell you how he opened that door and went down with the girls to the street and go a policeman and came back with the policeman, and that at that time the door was wide open, and he saw two girls in their excited condition that were attempting to leave the building by jumping out of the window and he dragged one back, and the police officer dragged the other, and then they took the 2 girls down. He will tell you, as will the colored man who sweeps the place every day, that year in and year out on the Washington Place side on the 8th and 9th and 10th floors the key was all the time in the lock, and that is was never without the lock.
…I myself have seen and spoken to two girls who will take the stand before you and who will testify that this first girl to whom I referred went with one of them to the Washington Place doors and the Washington Place elevator did not stop at the 9th floor, and that for that reason they went to the Washington Place door on the 9th floor and they opened the door without any difficulty, and that they walked out into the hallway near the 9th floor and they saw the smoke coming up and the flames coming up, and they looked down and they saw the girls going down the stairs from the 8th floor, and that they then turned back and went downstairs on the Washington Place elevator at the Washington Place doors. And I will show you that these girls sat all year in close proximity to the 9th floor on the Washington Place side. These girls were called to show you that the key was always in the Washington Place door, in the lock on the 9th floor, and that the floorlady and others would come and go out by that door.
Mae Caliandrolevantini ( defense witness and 9th floor operator)
…I was just in my dressing room, coming out of it, when a girl that was just right near the Washington Place elevators called me; she says, Mae, Mae, I think the elevator must have dropped, because I hear the girls screaming. I ran to it....I went to the elevator and I listened at the Washington Place side. I listened, and I didn't hear no screaming in the elevator. Then I ran to the door and I opened the door. The key was right in the door tied to a string. I turned the key, I opened the door, I looked out, and I seen the girls running down from the 8th floor, and as I looked over that way flames and smoke came right up and they made me turn in. I didn't look who was or was not there, I turned right in and ran to the elevators where I thought I could get down much quicker.
.…Then is the time that the excitement started on our floor, that the girls from the Greene Street side rushed to this Washington Place side, and then of course the elevator didn't come up and stop on that floor; it went up and down but never stopped there. They rushed back again, and then came back again, back again they to the Greene Street side. Then they didn't come back any more but a crowd has remained at the Washington Place side. After a little time, I can't say how long, the elevator came up once. Well, that crowd rushed into the elevator. The whole crowd was there; the crowd was so strong that they were pushing so that I held on to the two tubes, that is between the two elevators, where you can see where the elevator is. I held on to them so that they wouldn't throw me down, and another girl was holding on to my waist, Lena Barilli. So I seen there was no more around us and I told the girl to take one rope and I took the one closest to the wall. The cords were burned, everything was burning while I was standing in that partition. Then I made that girls grab that rope, and I grabbed the other cable which was close to the wall and that is how I got down. My hands were all burned off, my hand on this side, and this other hand, and my legs. I was cut here, my hair was pulled off, my glasses was off hanging somewhere, I don’t' know, I was an awful sight when I got down. I got down on top of the elevator cage. I hung on the cable I guess about two minutes before I could get over to the other side. I seen the fireman going up with a hose. I says --I didn't say anything- he says, you are all right, you are all right. I says, look, look, that's all I could say to the burning door above me. I went tot put my foot down and I didn't know what it was, something soft, I think dead bodies, or I don't know what, and I made a grab for the railing which leads over to the other side of the elevator, where I turned my body and I was taken off by the firemen, I think, a man, Mr. Brown it must have been, and I was taken out.
Question: The key was in that Washington Place door, wasn't it?
Answer: Yes, sir.
Question: You saw it there?
Answer: Yes, sir.
Question: And it was attached to the door by a string, wasn't it?
Answer: A string, yes sir.
Question: What color was the string?
Answer: It was colored piece of string, a checked piece of string, a half inch wide if not more.
Bostwick: Was it a clean or a dirty piece?
Answer: Well, it was tied onto the key and the knob of the door, I am sure it couldn't be very clean.
Question: How long a piece would you say it was?
Answer: Well, about half a yard.
.…I have turned the knob with the same hand that I opened the door, just turned the key toward me and went out. I opened the door because I turned the knob. The door was locked and I turned the key that was in the lock and I opened the door.
Bostwick: Where there any persons around the door when you did this?
Answer: No, sir, I was the first one at the door... I don't know what they were doing. They were banging on the elevator doors, and I was doing the same thing.
Juror asks: After you had been out of this Washington Place door and looked over the stairway, what did you do to the door after you came back in?
Answer: I ran in and pushed it back, pushed it in back of me and ran for the elevator.
Question: Did you lock the door after you came back in?
Answer: No, sir. I would never think of turning that key again.
Ida Mittleman (witness for the defense)
A:…I got up from my place and I walked over to my sister's which was at the Washington Place side. We were about to go and get my hat in the dressing room when we were stopped by the noise coming from the elevator direction on the Washington Place side. When I heard that noise, Mae Levantini came along and asked what was the matter that time and I said "I don't know," and the two of us rushed to the door and she opened it, and I walked out with her. As we did, [we saw] the smoke coming up and crowds of people walking down. We ran back on the floor and I ran to tell my sister it was a fire. After that we went to the elevator. All I could see was heads and the smoke was thick. I couldn't see much, just heads of people walking down, when I looked over the staircase, and I ran back. I thought it would be quicker to get down by the elevator, and I ran back and told my sister.
Question: Did you see any flame when you looked down?
Answer: No, sir.
Question: The only thing you saw was smoke?
Answer: Yes, sir.
Question: And people?
Answer: And people. I ran over to my sister's machine and told her it was a fire, and the two of us ran over to the elevator and banged on it....We were standing at the elevator door toward the windows. We rushed to that door; we were almost the last to get into the elevator. Someone pushed me in sideways and when the elevator shot down, I seem my sister remained and I gave one scream, and all of a sudden I see her there, and when the elevator went down half way she jumped in on top of the people. She told me that I felt somebody on top of me, but who it was I don't know.
Question:…When you got out in the hallway, there were no flames there?
Answer: No, sir.
Question: So that no flames barred your way to the 8th floor?
Answer: No, sir, the smoke.
Question: But no flames?
Answer: No flames that time.
Question: Now this key that you say hung form the knob, did it hang down by the side of the door so that you could see the key?
Answer: Yes, sir, by the string, about three of four inches, a piece of tape or something about a half inch wide....
Question: Will you please tell the jury what you said to Mr. Bostwick in his room when he asked you these questions?
Answer: I told Mr. Bostwick that at the day of the fire, as soon as the bell rang, to go home I came over to my sister's place which is at the Washington Place side and we were about to get out things, and we heard some noise and we stopped as we were going to get out things, and ran over to the elevator. All we could hear was noise and where it come from we didn't know, and with that Mae Levatini came along and asked us the same question, and we answered, we don't know what it is, we think it is an elevator crash. With that she ran over to the door and I followed her and opened it. Now, which one of us turned the key or the knob, I couldn't remember then but now I do remember that it was Mae.
Samuel Bernstein (superintendent and witness for the defense)
A: Mr. Blank is a brother-in-law of mine, and Mr. Harris's wife is a cousin of mine. The two wives of these two men are cousins, and I am related to both of them, and I am the one referred to here as the superintendent and manager, and I have been with them for 12 years....I work for them on the 9th and 8th lofts....I was on the 8th floor [at the time the fire started]. I was standing near a desk of a cousin of mine by the name of Dinah Lifschitz. She was a bookkeeper that had charge of the accounts of the operators, carried their time. That was done on the 8th floor facing west on the west side near the northwesterly side, and there was a new girl had been working for about two days, I don't recollect the name, and Dinah called me over to make a price for that girl. The bell had rung. By making a price for her, she was supposed to work piece-work and she didn't know the price. She worked for a few days, and I usually made a price for them, and she asked me what she was going to get and asked me to make a price. And I made a price with her of $14 and she was perfectly satisfied, and then when she walked away from me and I heard a cry. Mr. Harris's sister, I seen her running toward me and hollering "Fire! There is a fire, Mr. Bernstein!" When I turned around I seen a big blaze and some smoke. I ran toward the other side and I seen a couple of cutters around there and they were using some pails of water....There is a little desk over here standing right near the windows facing the university. It is about 10 feet from the university wall into the loft toward Greene St., toward the fire escape wall. I saw the smoke and blaze at about the second window from the left from the Greene St. side, near the freight elevator (that would be the first window in the shop next to the partition)....
I cried out for the pails of water and just then Frank, an elevator boy, just came up and he handed me some water. In the meantime, the elevator door was open. It was big draft. It was very windy that day and it blew right through, awfully. It was impossible for me to put the fire out. I saw Louis Sanderman, the assistant shipping clerk from the 10th floor and I said, "Louis, get me a hose as quick as you can." He got down the hose from the 8th floor and handed it over to me and I said, "Is it open wide?" But it didn’t work, no pressure, no water. I tried it, I had it ready, I opened it. I can't turn it any more. I turned it one way and then the other and I fired it away. It don't work--I threw it away. A little fellow by the name of Utter, I don't know his first name --he only worked in the factory a couple of months --he was the assistant machinist. He handed me the hose from the 9th floor. That boy was lost in the fire. As soon as I got the hose I said, "Where is the water, where is the water?" He said, "There is no pressure, nothing coming, no good." I kept turning it but no water came so I fired it away and got a few more pails of water.
The fire was getting bigger. On the end right on top of the table, the lawn was on fire. There was about 120 ply of lawn there, layers on top of the table. I seen that on top of the table the fire was running away from me. The boy was pulling me by the hand and hollering. He was so frightened. I turned around and looked at him and the boy was burning. He ran away from me. He was a buttonhole worker from the 9th floor.
Then I started for the girls. I sent them back away. They were running for their coats. I said, "For God's sake, don't run for your coats, get out of here as quick as you can!" and I pulled them out. One of the girls, I slapped in the face. She was fainting and I got her out. Brown came over there by me and I sent him to the other side. I said, "Get away from me, you can't put his fire out!" Brown is a machinist on the 8th floor.
I stayed at the Greene St. side getting the girls out. I wouldn't let them go for their clothes. They had some new clothes. It was near spring and they were wearing their new clothes. I seen a girl going back after her pocketbook. She said, "I have got my pocketbook by my machine," and I just make her go along out without it. I just drove them out.
I was getting all dark with smoke, and there sat my cousin Dinah Lifshitz trying to get up stairs on the telephone or on that writing machine. She was getting no answer. The she screamed out, "Fire!" through the telephone and she screamed so loud I stopped her. She scared the girl on the other end so that she dropped the receiver. We didn't get any answer from the 10th floor. We connected with the 10th floor if we wanted the 9th floor. Where there was no answer I said, "For God's sakes, their people don't know, how can me make them know?" And then I turned around and see how the flames were spreading and I said, "Well, we will all get lost here." She said, "I can't get anyone." She was crying. I said, "Dinah, there is only one man here and all of the girls are out of the 8th floor and I ordered her to drop the phone. I ran to get through the blaze and smoke to the 9th floor, and I remembered that I had a number of relative, a brother, cousins and all of these people were very dear to me. I could not get in to the 9th floor.
It seemed that there was about 20 feet away from the door, cans of oil for the machines--motor oil, and it was fixed around so that no fire or anything should in there. I suppose that was burning. I don't know. The blaze was so strong on the Greene St. side that I could not get in to the 9th floor. Then I ran up the 10th floor. I found it was burning there too.
I seen Mr. Blanck and Mr. Harris and all of the pressers and cutters running around like wildcats. They didn't know where they were and they were all crying.
I told them the only way for you to get out was on the roof. There was no other way. I know where I was and I know where I came from. So they followed my advice and they ran up that way. I seen a Mr. Silk, a salesman of Krauer and Tynburg, standing on a table trying to knock out a skylight in the middle of the loft. Mr. Blanck was holding on to his children who was bout in the middle of the loft just near the skylight. I came over and said to him the only way you can get out over here is to the roof and I said you want to be quick about it and the shipping clerk, Eddie Markowitx, took away Mr. Blanck's child, the smaller one, and Mr. Blanck held the older girl and they fight there way out of there.
I was the last one to leave that floor too. There was a girl there, a forelady by the name of Lucy. She was forelady of the pressers. She fainted and I slapped her face while she was on the floor and woke her up and I carried her upstairs to the roof. I felt as strong as a bull at that time. I don't know where I got it from. I carried her all the way to the roof and there she was fainting again. There were other girls on the roof. Mr. Alter's daughters, an old man and a relative of mine; an uncle of mine, him and my cousins they were there too.
I pushed the first man up. He was a cutter. When he got up on the next roof he began to run away instead of standing there and helping the rest of us. When I got to that place, I seen Mr. Harris was there and the adjoining roof must have been 7 or 8 feet away. Mr. Harris and I helped the cutter up and he was going to run away and I said, "For God's sakes, stay here and give us help to push the other people up" and he stayed. And he pushed them all up until there was only another man and myself--a salesman by the name of Tichenor--and he was a large man and weighed 250 lbs. And I had some trouble with him.
I was the last one there and I seen the flames was coming up through the roof on the Greene St. and uptown side. And nobody was there anymore to push me up so I ran across the roof all the way to the Washington Place side where the university is and they pushed me up a step ladder and when I got to the top the step ladder, I looked down and saw 5 or 6 girls falling from the windows.
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