70th Anniversary of the Cocoanut Grove Fire

Before Stephanie Schorow wrote Drinking Boston: A History of the City and Its Spirits, she wrote six other books about the history of Boston, including The Cocoanut Grove Fire (Commonwealth, 2005).

As I sat down in the large Rabb auditorium at the Boston Public Library on November 14 to listen to Stephanie talk about the fire, I thought I knew all about what happened at the Cocoanut Grove back in 1942. Most Bostonians have at least heard of the disastrous fire that killed nearly 500 people at the Cocoanut Grove that Saturday night after Thanksgiving. As it turns out, many, many Bostonians still have personal connections to the fire. When Stephanie opened up the floor to questions, it turns out that more people simply wanted to tell their story.

Schorow is familiar with this experience. Since publishing The Cocoanut Grove Fire she is contacted often by people with stories from that night. At the BPL event, she said that sometimes she feels like she could publish a new version of her Cocoanut Grove book each year with all the new information she hears about that fateful day. In Drinking Boston, Schorow felt lucky that she was able to share new stories, including an interview with Edith Nussinow, daughter of the original owner of the Cocoanut Grove, Jacques Renard.

Stephanie also shared some news that night – a coalition of historians and City of Boston Departments have created a new place to gather these stories in one place: www.cocoanutgrovefire.org. Visit the site to see photos, information, history, personal experiences and more. It is so important to capture this history before it’s gone forever.

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