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StoryCorps: Maureen Krekian

From: StoryCorps
Length: 02:59

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Maureen Krekian tells her daughters, Lynn Everett and Joanne Krekian, about surviving the Hartford Circus Fire of 1944. Read the full description.

Everettkrekian200_small Sixty-three years ago today, one of the deadliest fires in the nation's history struck the circus in Hartford, Conn. Nearly 9,000 people had crowded into the big top that day. Shortly after the show began, the tent caught fire. It was waterproofed with a mixture of gasoline and wax, causing the tent to be completely consumed in less than 10 minutes. The fire claimed 167 lives — more than one-third of them children. Maureen Krekian, who was 11 at the time, survived the disaster and recounts the day's harrowing events.

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Piece Description

Sixty-three years ago today, one of the deadliest fires in the nation's history struck the circus in Hartford, Conn. Nearly 9,000 people had crowded into the big top that day. Shortly after the show began, the tent caught fire. It was waterproofed with a mixture of gasoline and wax, causing the tent to be completely consumed in less than 10 minutes. The fire claimed 167 lives — more than one-third of them children. Maureen Krekian, who was 11 at the time, survived the disaster and recounts the day's harrowing events.

Broadcast History

NPR's Morning Edition

Transcript

MK: It was 1944, July the 6th, very hot day. I was eleven years old. I was supposed to go to the circus with the lady next door and her daughter. I went and knocked on the door and they weren't there, they had already left without me. Now, I had never been to the circus before and there was no way I was going to go home and tell my grandmother that I was alone, that would never had been permitted. So I just went up the street and went to the circus by myself.

Announcer: "The Flying Wallendas," world famous aerial act, were performing on their trapezes when the fire broke.

MK: I remember someone yelling and seeing a big ball of fire near the top of the tent, and this ball of fire just got bigger and bigger and bigger.

Announcer: An eyewitness told us it appeared almost like spontaneous combustion. So quickly was the big tent a mass of flames.

MK: By that time everyone was p...
Read the full transcript

Intro and Outro

INTRO:

Time now for StoryCorps, the project that's traveling the country recording your stories. 63 years ago today, fire struck the circus in Hartford, Connecticut. Nearly 9000 people crowded into the Big Top that day. Shortly after the show began, the tent caught fire. It was waterproofed with a mixture of gasoline and wax... causing the Big Top to be completely consumed in less than 10 minutes. The fire claimed 167 lives -- over a third of them children. It became one of the worst fires in this nation’s history. Maureen Krekian (KRECK-ee-in) was at the circus that day... Here, she remembers the fire...

OUTRO:

Maureen Krekian remembering the Hartford Circus Fire of 1944, with her daughters Lynn and Joanne. The newscast you heard was from WTIC radio in Hartford. This interview will be archived with all StoryCorps interviews at the Library of Congress. Subscribe to the StoryCorps podcast at NPR-Dot-Org.

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