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The West Plains Dance Hall Explosion

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | The West Plains Dance Hall Explosion.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Lin Waterhouse(Author)

    Book details


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.

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.

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Book details

  • PDF | Unknown pages
  • Lin Waterhouse(Author)
  • History Press Library Editions (December 3, 2010)
  • English
  • 7
  • History

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Review Text

  • By dhouse on October 13, 2013

    This is a very interesting book for people who know about the West Plains Explosion (mostly local folks I would think.) Growing up in this area I have always heard bits and pieces of the story, and this book ties the details together.I was surprised to read just "who" the victims were and how many people I now know who are relatives of those unfortunate folks. It takes some piecing the story together and going back to reread sections to really understand and follow the story. I'm not sure if the book would be as interesting to people who don't know West Plains as it was to me. I found out that I actually have several connections with the people involved.I also read (twice) The Maid's Version by Daniel Woodrell- a new "fictionalized" account of the explosion. It was fascinating to try to figure out which "fictional" character mighthave been modeled after which real person.Between the two books and what I knew and could find out from others, I feel like I actually know "who-dun-it" in the eyes of Waterhouse and Woodrell. It was a fascinating look at local history.

  • By B Hall on January 23, 2011

    This is a thriller for sure. Don't miss out on this one as it's not just for the folks in and around West Plains, MO.This topic has been talked about for years but now this talented author has done more than talk, her in-depth research as put all of the facts together, laid to rest many of the unfounded tales and comes up with a book you just can't put down. The West Plains Dance Hall Explosion would make a wonderful movie. I don't want to say any more about it and ruin it for you.

  • By JudyAnn Lorenz on March 7, 2013

    I'm at a loss for decent adjectives for describing how well Lin Waterhouse has written this moving, dramatic tragedy in a midwestern community -- West Plains, Missouri.Readers become acquainted with the people who were looking for a convivial gathering that was typical of their community along with the people who were living nearby and those who lived with the nightmare of survival. The class differences in terms of economy, but apparently not such divisive social terms as were prominent in much of society still in the decade of the 1920s.Using family memories, notes, testimony and photos from the community, Lin Waterhouse puts seriously realistic faces on the people (not characters, but real life people) who where living in West Plains, Missouri that night.A true cold case, there has been no determination of cause or identification of perpetrators for the Dance Hall Explosion. But, it wasn't a bad dream -- it really happened and 39 people died. Some never knew what hit them; many knew it more than any soul can endure.The author includes some basic foundational history of West Plains, including Civil War troubles for many residents. Today, we think of West Plains and think of the fine Missouri State University there, the thriving business community and happier history as a center for Country Music with native resident, Porter Wagoner who was a babe in arms (8/1927 -- 10/2007) on that terrible spring evening. Some people still stop for a quiet moment at the memorial headstone marking the grave field sheltering the victims that could not be identified. I admire the spiritual bravery of their survivors who simply committed them to hometown soil together from the tunes of this plain until the music of eternity.I highly recommend this book and this author. I'm proud to be personally and professionally acquainted with her and look forward to reading everything she writes. I bought this book on my Kindle and it is going to be a favorite that I will let my friends and family hold the precious Kindle for a chance to read.

  • By NailDzyner on May 31, 2013

    Can't wait to read this ! My Great Aunt Juanita and cousin Ruby were killed in this explosion. I grew up hearing stories about it from my grandmother Beatrice. Glad to find this book !!

  • By Deborah Keating on October 11, 2012

    A terrible tragedy; but it is so interesting. Well written, the author gives you a feel for alot of the victims.

  • By L. E. Wood on February 23, 2011

    I reviewed this book for the Ozarks Mountaineer magazine, and the following review is lifted from that review. Author Lin Waterhouse says that many people who survived or lost loved ones in the West Plains Dance Hall Explosion that killed 39 people in 1928 were disinclined to talk about the event in the years that followed. Maybe that's why, even though I've lived my whole life in the Ozarks and consider myself a student of the region's history, until I learned of her book, I had never heard about what is arguably the greatest single tragedy ever to occur here. On the night of April 13, 1928, a large group of mostly young people from prominent West Plains-area families gathered for an evening of dancing at Bond Hall on the second floor of the Ward Building on East Main Street just off the West Plains square. At 11:05 p.m., just as the dance was winding down, a huge explosion from the first-floor Wiser Motor Company below Bond Hall ripped through walls and ceilings, destroying not only the Ward Building but the next building on either side and damaging other structures throughout the entire downtown area. The blast sent dancers hurtling upward and then tumbling down into a large pile of burning debris. Many of those not killed by the initial explosion were trapped and burned to death in the fiery rubble, while a few managed to escape or were rescued. In this book, Ms. Waterhouse not only gives a detailed account of the events surrounding the explosion but also adds interesting background about the lives of many of the victims and survivors, letting the reader get to know the players in this tragic drama and thus making the story of the West Plains dance hall explosion even more poignant. If you have a connection to the West Plains area, this book is a must-have, but I recommend it to other people from the Ozarks as well or even to readers from other regions who enjoy a good human-interest story.


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