Boston, MA Cocoanut Grove Club Fire, Nov 1942

Cocoanut Grove Night Club Fire from Front View Of Building Side View of Building Memorial Plaque Memorial Plaque




Lowell -- With scores of charred bodies remaining unidentified in Boston morgues, Greater Lowell had already counted 10 dead and one missing in the horrible holocaust enacted at the Cocoanut Grove club Saturday night, as the tragic list kept mounting early this afternoon.

Greater Lowell Victims.
KELLY, MARY E., 21 Myrtle street, Lowell.
ROGERS, MILDRED, 50 Varnum street, Lowell.
FITZGERALD, Private HENRY T., 29, Lake street, Wilmington.
FITZGERALD, JAMES J., 39, Lake street, Wilmington.
FITZGERALD, JOHN A., 41, Lake street, Wilmington.
FITZGERALD, Wilfrid A., 31, Lake street, Wilmington.
LOWE, GEORGE T., 45, Frost road, Tyngsboro.
QUINLAN, Sergt, JOHN J., Burnap street, Wilmington.
ALTIERI, Private FRED L., Fort Devens.
ADLER, Private MILTON DAVID, Fort Devens.

PEAVEY, JANE, daughter of Col. HARRY C. PEAVEY, Fort Devens.

GOODWIN, JAMES, U. S. Coast Guard, Woburn street, North Wilmington, rescue worker.

Other Victims Well Known Here.
AMBROSE, MARION, 42 Fine street, Winchester.
GRIFFIN, HELEN C., 330 Primrose street, Haverhill.
WELCH, HELEN, 28 Lebanon street, Winchester.
(All Lowell State Teachers' College graduates)
GILBRIDE, CAROLYN, 20, 44 Grant road, Swampscott.
DEE, ANNA, 10 Bromfield street, West Somerville, also a Lowell State Teachers' College graduate.

The pall of grief arising from the unprecedented catastrophe, spread to the families of two Lowell young women, four Wilmington brothers, a Wilmington army sergeant and a Tyngsboro World War veteran. In addition, Lowell relatives and friends mourned the deaths of four young women living in other communities, but well know here as a result of attendance at the Lowell State Teachers' college. At least two Fort Devens soldiers also died.

Six of the local victims were members of a party of 12 men and women, only one of the whom was saved. There included MARY E. KELLY, 21 Myrtle street; MILDRED ROGERS, 50 Varnum street, and HARRY, JAMES, JOHN and WILFRID FITZGERALD of Lake street, Wilmington.
The town of Wilmington bore the brunt of Greater Lowell's losses, for in addition to the four FITZGERALD brothers, Sergt, JOHN J. QUINLAN of Burnap street, Wilmington, stationed at Fort Devens, also died in the club fire. MISS ROGERS was principal of a Wilmington grade school.
Late reports placed among the missing and probably dead, the name of MISS JANE PEAVEY, daughter of Col. and MRS. HARRY C. PEAVEY of Fort Devens. MISS PEAVEY'S father, dental chief at the fort, was leading a search for his this noon, with but scant hope of finding her alive.
Two Fort Devens soldiers were definitely placed among the dead. Officials gave their names as Private First Class FRED L. ALITERI and Private MILTON DAVID ADLER, the former a resident of Somerville. ADLER'S home city was not known at press time.
Several other Fort Devens officers and soldiers may also have lost their lives, and a thorough check was being made today.

Well-known here and all dead, are: The MISSES MARION AMBROSE, 42 Fine street, Winchester; HELEN WELCH, 28 Lebanon street, Winchester; CAROLYN GILBRIDE, 44 Grant road, Swampscott and HELEN C. GRIFFIN, 330 Primrose street, Haverhill. They were graduates of the local Teachers' college. Several have local relatives. Injured, is MISS ANNA DEE of 10 Bromfield street, West Somerville, also widely known and a former Teachers' college student.
The World War veteran who survived German bullets and shells, only to succumb in the Boston fire, was GEORGE T. LOWE, 45, of Frost road, Tyngsboro recently moved to Boston, where he was working at the navy yard.
LOWE'S sister, MRS. JULIA THOMPSON or read 238 Appleton street, heard her own name called out in reports yesterday as being among the dead. The case of mistaken identity caused many calls to come to her home and was apparently the result of her name being found on her brother's body.
The most tragic episode in the greater-Lowell area, was the near wiping-out of a party of 12 persons who had gathered at the club to fete the home-coming for the Thanksgiving holiday of two soldiers, Pvt. HENRY FITZGERALD of Wilmington and Pvt. ROBERT HORRIGAN of Turners Falls.
This group, comprising of six men and six young women, went to the club only a short time before fire broke out. All perished, with the exception of Pvt. HORRIGAN, who lies gravely injured in a Boston hospital.
Throughout the city and its suburbs, grief was widespread. For the first time since Pearl Harbor war was only a secondary topic. The city actually appeared stunned, although the tragedy occurred more than 25 miles away.
Lowell contributed the use of its patrol wagon, converted into an ambulance and several rescue workers while Wilmington supplied its own ambulance and a number of workers, one of whom was injured. He was JAMES GOODWIN, a member of the U. S. coast guard, who was hurt while aiding in removing victims. GOODWIN is belived to be the only Greater Lowell person injured.



Cocoanut Grove 75th Anniversary Memorial

I along with a group of Bostonians in 2013 had a street the cut through the footprint of the Cocoanut Grove nightclub renamed, Cocoanut Grove Lane. On November 25, we are hosting a 75th Anniversary Memorial at the Revere Hotel, 200 Stuart Street in Boston from 1pm to 3pm. We would be very pleased to have you join us.
I can be reached via email or call me at 617-924-7613.
Mike Hanlon

Maryalice Klinger Chaifetz

Maryalice Klinger Chaifetz Yes, we are related, I did not know you left a comment until Patty Aronin, Anne's, daughter messaged me. I know the name Klinger, I remember my parents talking about Chickie, but do not know if I ever met him. I am sorry for your loss, I wasn't aware about the scholarship. But have seen the paintings she did. I have not seen or heard from Dolly since around 2001 or so. John and my sister Jeanine, also passed away as well as my mom is 2012, during Sandy. Jeanine the next year and John the year after that. We should stay in touch, Katie Metzger

Coconut grove fire - Dorothy Metzger

Helen, I am your cousin. My mother was Anne, the younger sister of Helen and older sister of Dorothy. I remember attending your wedding, and also remember Chickie. My mom passed away in 2009. I have a few old photos of Dorothy and one photo of your mom and dad that I discovered when cleaning out my mom's things. I'd love to hear from you. I love in Texas now. Do you know what happened to Dotty's daughter, Dolly? I have tried to Google all of you, but could never find anyone.

I believe I am your cousin

My mother was Helen Metzger Klinger. She had a brother John sister Ann and sister Dorothy. I believe your Mother was my aunt Terry by marriage to John. I was nearer in age to your older sister and brother John Michael.
My mother and Dorothy were very close. The things you have mentioned in your comment bring back so many happy and sad memories of Dorothy. When I was eight years old she left for Boston with no adult in her life to protect her.
Did you know she won a full scholarship to college for art but your grandmother encouraged her to turn it down so she could take that job singing at the Cocoanut Grove.
We never know how our lives will change with a simple decision. Are you in contact with Dorothy's Daughter?
I really hope you get this note. I would like to
know if you are my cousin.
Sincerely, Maryalice
PS I had a brother Charles (nickname as a kid Chickie). He passed away last year. He has two sons and three grandchildren.

New Calvary Cemetery and SGT Kelly from Charlestown

Two unrelated thoughts re to the CG fire: I recall a funeral director from South Boston saying how there are upwards of a dozen or more graves in New Cal cemetery right near each other, all with the same date: November 28, 1942. Eerie and sad.

I seem to recall my mother, who was from Charlestown, mentioning that Sgt James P Kelley of Bunker Hill St, a victim of the fire, had a brother, Danny--USMC, who later died at Iwo Jima. How sad.

Jean Marie

After 72 years, Jean Marie and I reunited our family's. Turns out she and her family spend summers 35 miles from where we live. Her father had family pictures I had never seen. And I got to see a picture of Jane Louise Sullivan as a young child. So, thru the pain of this, some good has come. Jean Marie & I plan on a get togeather again this coming year. Thanks to your site Jean Marie in N.Y. and I in Idaho have found each other. Louise O'Brien

Coconut Grove Fire

My aunt and godmother Jane Louise Sullivan I did not see listed. She was with Lawrence T. Ford that night as they celebrated being engaged. Both died that night.
Thru this site I found that I had a scond cousin, and after 72 years I got to meet her family. They live in N.Y. and I in Idaho.
I think of my aunt a lot, and have tried to learn about Lawrence T. Ford. As a 5 year old child, I only remember he had a wire terrier named Bunkie. As we approach Nov. 29th 2014 they are in my heart and prayers.

Thank You

I was contacted by a relative I did not know I had.
Her Father remembered a relative, in the fire. Thru that contact we exchanged picture. And just this August (2014) we met. 72 years later. I had (My aunts) name wrong. The correct was Jane Louise Sullivan. I have been blessed. Thank you!

Cocoanut Grove Fire/ Dottie Myles

My aunt was Dottie Myles,/Dorothy Metzger was her real name. She also sang Irish songs under the name Dorothy McManus She lived until the late 1960's. She was an amazing woman. Her voice was amazing. She played the best boogy piano I ever heard when I was a kid,even though her hands were burned terrible and somewhat dis formed from the burns. She always wore long sleeves, My sister and I would love to sit at the piano with her while she sang and played. Some of my fondest memories as a kid. She had a great sense of humor and was a very good artist. She always dressed very stylishly. She resided in NY. I see some comments that have facts wrong, just wanted to put the story straight. She continued to sing, had a show on the radio, had a column in the newspaper. and also was a hostess/singer in a club. She did have a daughter. . She was a very determined woman and who had more courage than most. This was the first time my grandmother let her go to booking with out her, out of state. They resided in NY at the time.If she had not been in this fire, her career would of been limitless. There is no doubt in my mind that she would of been famous for her voice, instead of this tragedy. The entire family was very talented, her sister was a model and beauty contestant. Her brother, (my father) was an ad executive and did so many national branding. At the time, According to my parents, Jimmy Dorsey was considering adding her as his singer.

Ruth Knox


My name is Skip McCormack. Yours is an old posting so I hope it is still viable.

Mary Ellen McCormack, known as "Mae" would have been my aunt. Mae was the daughter of Edward "Knocko" and Mary T. McCormack and the brother of Jacko and Eddie, "Bubba" McCormack. Mae and Ruth were close friends and tragically died together at the Coconut Grove. My Dad Eddie, "Bubba" McCormack, (all South Boston guys during this time period had nicknames), was the brother of Mae who had a relationship with Ruth. I don't know if they were actually engaged, but they were definitely boyfriend and girlfriend.

I have been in contact with a friend of my Dad's named Abner, now in his 90s, who was friends with my Dad, Mae, Ruthie, (as she was known) and Emily Ruplis, my Mom. Around Thanksgiving. we exchanged emails, and I expressed my feelings that it was a bittersweet holiday, because a newspaper article in the Boston Globe recounted the Coconut Grove tragedy. I noted my sadness that I had never met my Aunt Mae. He responded that the South Boston community was devastated about the loss of Mae McCormack and Ruthie Knox. The name Ruthie Knox struck a bell, so I asked him about her. This was his unvarnished response:

Hi Skip..On the corner of 6th and Farragut Road there used to be a place called The Sea Breeze..Ice cream Frappes and Hotdogs only.... Fried Clams and French fries were the goodies across the road at Kelly's.The Breeze had a Wurlitzer and a large wooden floor where we could sneek in a dance .In our middle to late teens we hung out there,One day a bunch of gals from a super section of Southie close to Carson Beach came to the Breeze,They were from Ticknor Street and we called them the Ticknor Street Debs,A real good looking passel of females.Bubba's manor and all american good looks was the most looked at.Emmie was among the group and I believe she decided that was her target.Bubba was very popular but no gal owned him.One day Bubba showed up with a flaming gorgeous Red Head Ruthie Knox.From then on she was" numero uno".She hit it off very well with Aunt Mae and they went shopping and stuff like that.We were sure that they would eventually end up married.I think Grandma Mae wanted him to marry an Irish girl. Bubba and Ruthie went what we called "steady "Now that left Emmie sad I am sure but she still was part of our click and went to parties and dances as we had many dance halls in the immediate area. I can't remember if Bubba doubled dated with any of our group.I guess it was some of Ruthie's friends,Then of course WWII came and it broke up the whole gang with most of the Wildcat Football team joining the service on Dec. 8 1941.We were at the recruiting office on the night of Dec,7..Navy .....I did not see too much of Bubba or did I know of his Love life.Two days before the Coconut Grove disaster I came up from the Cape[Sandwich] where I was stationed with a Buddy from Fall River and one of the joints we hit was the Grove,We heard about the fire a couple of days later but did not know Mae and Ruthie were victims.Writing to one of my 4f friends I learned that Emmie and Bubba were a couple and that Bubba had gone to Annapolis.

So Maura that is what I know about Ruth Knox and her relationship with my Dad, Eddie "Bubba" McCormack. He married "Emmie Ruplis" in 1946 and I am a product of that union. By the way, my Mom was Lithuanian, which was a strike against her in the eyes of my Dad's family.

I do not have any pictures of Ruthie, but I note from an eye witness account that Ruthie was "a flaming gorgeous red head".

Like all who lost loved ones at the Coconut Grove, i am deeply saddened by that tragedy and the people who were lost at such a young age. I hope this information provides you with some insight into the life of your relative Ruthie Knox and her relationship with my Aunt Mae and my Dad, "Bubba" McCormack.

Skip McCormack