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.
|Publisher:||History Press, The|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
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.
Table of Contents
The Dancers 15
West Plains: The Gem City of the Ozarks 27
Life on East Main Street 37
J.M. "Babe" Wiser: Man at the Center of the Firestorm 46
The Dance 52
Horror and Heroics 65
Rest in Peace: Burials and Memorials 82
Investigation: Facts, Rumors and the Wrath of God 88
Legalities and Indignities of Death 107
The Community Rebuilds 116
Consequences of Tragedy 122
Beyond the Trauma 127
Old Gossip and New Theories 142
Victims of the Bond Hall Explosion 155
About the Author 159
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Amazing that the so much information could be found so many years after the horrific tragedy occurred. The details are well organized and meticulously documented. The reader gets the feeling of knowing the people and experiencing the sights, sounds, emotions and even the smells of the story. Just the right amount of tension and suspense. A good read.
An accurate account of the Bond Hall explosion and fire in West Plains, Missouri Friday, April 13, 1928. Looking at the photos and reading the story, I was moved to help them. They want everyone to know the truth, which may have been hit men or geological in nature. If it is the former, most likely the culprits are dead, but the facts need to be revealed. If it is the latter, next time could be catastrophic. Lin has touched the tip of an iceberg and has data, interviews, and stats to prove her findings. This is one I could not put down for two reasons: 1) it was real, and 2) it still has not been solved. Lin has done an unbelievable job of research and has written it so well, you actually go to bed at night seeing the explosion and hearing the voices of those who have crossed over but are not satisfied; who need closure. This book may bring someone forward who knows the who and why. Just look at the pictures and imagine. Bond Hall hosted dances every Friday night for many years. This night was like any other; young and old alike gathered to dance and listen to the live band consisting of their own local talent. At 11:00 pm that evening, not one family within 50 miles of West Plains was left unaffected by the horror that unfolded in a scant 10 minutes. An explosion ripped through the second floor dance hall located above Wiser Motor Corp; sending 39 unsuspecting people to their deaths. Waterhouse has done a remarkable job of researching the historical registers, newspapers, and courthouses as well as finding and getting first hand information from survivors and their descendents. She grabs you from the first sentence; taking you back to the day of the tragedy, carrying you through intricate details leading up to the moments before, and then combing through the testimony, coroner’s reports, and investigative findings, she brings you to where it all stands today. As you read The West Plains Dance Hall Explosion you realize you are reliving a real cold case. Intriguing and fascinating!