August 2, 1973: Summerland catches fire. The building was located in Douglas, Isle of Man. Douglas is the capital as well as the largest city on the Isle of Man. The 221 square mile island is located in the Irish Sea between Ireland and England. It is a British Crown Dependency. While self-governed by a local Lieutenant Governor, the island is technically rules by the King or Queen of Great Britain.
Summerland opened on May 25, 1971. The huge building covered 3.5 acres on the waterfront. It was climate-controlled, something not standard for British buildings. The 50,000 square feet of floor area was parceled out among five floors. Included were dance floors, gaming areas, and restaurants and bars. It was built in a 1960s concrete design incorporating many novel plastics. The street front and part of the roof were made of Oroglas – a transparent acrylic glass sheeting. It cost £2 million to build (about £22,000,000 today).
The massive structure was able to hold 10,000 tourists and was an attraction on the small island. About 7:30 pm, a small kiosk near a mini-golf course caught fire. It eventually slumped against a wall. The wall was covered in a mildly flame-resistant substance. It spread the fire to the interior sound-proofing material. This led to a small explosion and the fire then spread quickly. The acrylic sheeting melted which allowed more oxygen in to feed the flames and also helped to block the exits at the front of the building.
It took 30 minutes to call the fire service. At no time did anyone try to evacuate the 3,000 people inside. When the flames finally became visible, a panicked mob tried to escape. Many of the fire doors were locked. In all, 50 people died in the fire and another 80 were seriously injured. The building was mostly destroyed. It was rebuilt using greater safety features. It closed in 2004 and was demolished (this time on purpose) in 2005. One wall remains standing as it may be helping to support a nearby cliff.
For safety is not a gadget but a state of mind. – Eleanor Everet
Safety doesn’t happen by accident. – Author Unknown
“Safety First” is “Safety Always.” – Charles M. Hayes
Better a thousand times careful than once dead. – Proverb
Also on this day:
August 2, 1943: Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109 sinks. The boat belonged to the PT (Patrol Torpedo) 103 class. Nearly 400 of these boats were built between 1942 and 1945. This particular boat was laid down on March 4, 1942 and launched on June 20 of that same year. It was built in Bayonne, New Jersey by Elco – the Electric Launch Company. A new commander took over as the boat’s skipper on April 23, 1943. The new skipper was Lieutenant John F. Kennedy.
Kennedy used is family influence to enter the war despite having a bad back. He enlisted as an ensign with a desk job at the Office of Naval Intelligence in October 1941. He entered the Naval Reserve Officers Training School in Chicago on July 29, 1942. He completed his schooling there and was transferred to Rhode island and was promoted to Lieutenant, junior grade, to continue more training. Finishing that school on December 2, he took command of boat PT-101, a Higgins PT boat. He was then assigned to Panama.
After the battle at Guadalcanal in early 1943, the Allies began a campaign of island hopping. Kennedy wanted to participate in combat duty and got himself transferred to Squadron 2 based at Tulagi Island in the Solomons. There he took command of PT-109 and was ordered to the Russell Islands. After the capture of Rendova Island, the small boats were berthed there and conducted nightly operations. The goals were to disturb the heavy Japanese barge traffic trying to resupply troops as well as patrolling the Ferguson and Blackett Straits as reconnaissance.
On August 1, eighteen Japanese bombers struck the base and damaged one PT boat and sunk a second one. Two torpedoes made landfall without exploding. Intelligence reports said there were five enemy destroyers nearby. The fifteen remaining PT boats were sent out to find them. They engaged and fired on the enemy. After firing all torpedoes, boats were to return to base, but Kennedy’s boat remained out on patrol. Around 2 AM, PT-109 was idling with just one engine to avoid detection from the air. They suddenly realized they were in the path of the Japanese destroyer, Amagiri. They had only a few seconds to try to get out of the way when they were run down by the destroyer. PT-109 was cut in two. Two men were instantly killed and two more severely injured. The bow of the boat stayed afloat and four hours later, the survivors managed to get to relative safety on a nearby island.
“A young man who does not have what it takes to perform military service is not likely to have what it takes to make a living. Today’s military rejects include tomorrow’s hard-core unemployed.”
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
“Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men.”
“And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” – all from John F. Kennedy
August 2, 1790: The first United States census is conducted. The newly formed country needed the information to apportion Congressional seats in the lower house and the electoral votes used in Presidential elections as well as a basis for funding of federal programs. The US Constitution mandates a census be conducted every ten years.
The population of the American colonies, just prior to their revolt against England, was about 2.5 million. The first census in 1790 showed that nearly 4 million people lived in the new country and approximately 400,000 of them were slaves. The most populous state at that time was Virginia. The city with the most people was Philadelphia. New York City was second, Boston was third, Charleston and Baltimore rounded out the top five. Vermont, Kentucky, and Maine – then territories – were included in the counts.
The original census asked just six questions. The name of head of household; number of persons living in said household; number of free while males over age sixteen; number of males under age sixteen; and the sexes and colors of the rest of the household. The males over sixteen question answered how many males were available for either warring or working. Today’s census comes in either the long or short form, both asking more than six questions. If the information is not returned in a timely manner, someone comes to the house to collect the data.
There is controversy today over including non-citizens in official counts. These counts are used for the elective process and citizens are not part of that process. However, they are also used for government funding and many non-citizens do require governmental subsidizing. The actual Census data is available to the public 72 years after each census is taken. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, which contains samples of both US and international census data, can be used by researchers seeking more current data.
“I just want to know how people with multiple personalities fill out their census papers.” – unknown
“’Tis pedantry to estimate nations by the census, or by square miles of land, or other than by their importance to the mind of the time.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The first census in 1790 asked just six questions: the name of the head of the household, the number of free white males older than 16, the number of free white males younger than 16, the number of free white females, the number of other free persons, and the number of slaves.” – Tom G. Palmer
A motto for the Census Bureau: “Count everyone, because everyone counts.” – Steve Clark
Also on this day, in 1835 Elisha Gray, not inventor of the telephone, is born.