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Friday, June 29, 2012

Hartford Circus Fire Theme Of New BookMichael Down's 'The Greatest Show' A Collection Of 10 Tales


 (Courant file photo / May 24, 1974 )
The Hartford circus fire on July 6, 1944, is believed to have killed 168 people and injure 700 more among the 6,000 or more trapped, burned and trampled in the blazing Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey tent.
By CAROLE GOLDBERG, Special To The Courant
 from: courant.com
The Hartford Courant
July 1, 2012
It was stunningly hot and humid that morning, the way Hartford feels when summer gets stuck in the Connecticut Valley, and my dad made a fateful decision.
"It's just too hot. We're not going," he said, even though he'd already bought tickets. I was nearly 3, too young to understand what I would be missing, but they tell me I cried anyway.
My dad disappointed me but very well may have saved our lives. It's believed that 168 people died and about 700 more were injured among the 6,000 or more trapped, burned and trampled in the blazing Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus tent on July 6, 1944. The disaster permanently scarred many survivors — and the city itself.
That's my circus fire story. Many who had family in Hartford then have one to tell.
Michael Downs has 10.
 
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Michael Downs will give a free talk about "The Greatest Show" on Friday, July 6, at 5:30 p.m. at the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford. (Michael Downs / June 28, 2012)
Downs, 47, a former Courant sportswriter and now an assistant professor of English at Towson University in Maryland, has just published a collection of 10 related stories called "The Greatest Show" (Louisiana State University Press, $23). Not every story focuses directly on the fire, but its aftermath affects all the characters, beginning with the grim days of burn-ward recovery and lasting for decades to come.
He will discuss and read from his book Friday, July 6, the 68th anniversary of the fire, at 5:30 p.m. at the Mark Twain House in Hartford.
read more:
http://www.courant.com/features/books/hc-mike-downs-0701-20120701,0,6139621.story

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