n Christmas Eve, 1913, 72 children, women and men were crushed behind this door in an attempt to flee from a nonexistent fire that someone had shouted a warning for. It was said that the doors to Italian Hall were designed to open in. It is also said that the doors would have opened out - if they had not been held shut. This tragic end to many of the attendants of a Christmas Party held for the families of striking copper miners in Calumet, Michigan was attributed to scabs or anti-union mine company employees. What really happened that night has never been fully solved. An article in "The Daily Mining Gazette" on March 16, 1982 points to the possibility that no one involved in the strike was involved at all. However, the most comprehensive work to date on this neglected subject refutes this and other such claims and lends substantial evidence that this was indeed a crime of intent that was never truly prosecuted. Steve Lehto's Death's Door: The Truth Behind Michigan's Largest Mass Murder sheds light on a very dark and forgotten corner of our nation's history. I took this picture in the mid 1980's during a family trip to the Copper Country.
Blame, fault, responsibility and compensation, Italian Hall became a slogan and symbol for union activists for decades.
If you've come from the poetry section, note that the image laid somewhere in the subconscious of childhood. Only in looking for pictures to compliment the work did the striking resemblance in imagery hit me. There is no statement here. No politics nor insight. Just a mark, a memory, and a soft kiss upon the forehead of sleeping children.
Click here for a Adobe Acrobat PDF copy of "Daily Mining Gazette" article. Adobe Acrobat may be downloaded free from the web site below.