Remembering the Triangle Factory Fire, 100 years later


Rose Hauser

Job: unknown

9th floor

Interview: September 4, 1958

**NOTE: Husband & sister worked in shop at time of fire. Name is Rose Teitel.

On the floor a gong used to ring when the day was over. About five minutes before quitting time I sneaked into the dressing room. There were a few girls in the dressing room. I used to sing a lot in the shop, some of the girls asked me to sing a song while we were getting dressed. They asked me to sing -- I still remember the name of the song -- "Every Little Movement Has a Meaning of Its Own". They insisted that I sing so I did my little act in the dressing room. As soon as I finished the song I heard the bell ring but it seemed to me that it was a little bit too soon.

We were never allowed to go down the front way -- either by elevator or staircase. We always went by the freight which was in the back.

When I got out of the dressing room I looked toward the freight elevator and I saw smoke pouring up. The smoke was also coming out of the staircase. I ran with some of the other girls to the front door. I put my hand on the knob and tried to open it and I stood there screaming that the door was locked. I tried to open it and I stood there screaming that the door was locked. I tried to force it open with all my strength but it would not move.

I looked around and I saw the flames coming in all the windows. The fire was in the shop and was coming toward us. There was a fire escape at the windows near the freight side. The fire escapes had iron doors and shutters. Everybody was running and hollering and people were choking from the heavy smoke. I took my muff and put it over my head. I ran back to the front elevator and there was no chance there. I kept my muff on my head and ran toward the freight side again. I found that the door to the back staircase was open and that is how I got out.

Before I went down the staircase I looked to the fire escape. I saw one woman climb on there and fall right over the rail.

When I began to go down to the 8th floor, I was choking. The fire was in the hall on the 8th floor. I put my muff around my head tightly and I ran right through the fire. The fur caught on fire. When we got down stairs they kept us in the hall and they wouldn't let us go into the street because the bodies were falling down. The firemen finally came and took us out across the street and we stood numb in the doorway of a Chinese import store. I saw one woman jump and get caught on a hook on the 6th floor and watched how a fireman saved her.

The elevators were the old fashioned cable car kind with the cable going right through the car.

I wasn't hysterical and I was just numb.

After all this horror I remember I finally met my girl friend. She did not know about the fire and she scolded me for being late. We never went to buy the hat.

My cousin was going home from work when he heard about the fire. He rushed to my house. He lived on Lewis St. He cried out that he did not know what to do, that he did not see me and he asked my mother where was Rose. I was in the other room in what must have been a state of shock. My mother asked him (Harry) what was the matter and he began to tell her about the fire. I came out of the room and stood there listening to him and I could feel my mother become more and more excited. When he told her what happened she fainted and collapsed to the floor. It was only then that I also began to cry and I cried for hours. The next day there was a regular parade of people. They all came to see me and I was still alive. The full tragedy hit me at that time. I could not sleep for weeks.

We had a "lanslady" -- I was very friendly with her daughter who was their only child and who worked in Triangle. When the "lanslady" heard that I had been saved she came yelling into our house and in her sorrow began to wave her hands at me and berate me why I had not saved her daughter. The poor woman -- she lost her mind. My mother pleaded with her and tried to calm her. For a long time after that I was afraid to walk on the block where she lived. I was afraid to meet her. I dreamed about it at night and I would dream that I was falling out of the window screaming -- the whole house would wake up. I remember hollering to my mother in the dark, "Mama, I just jumped out of the window."

The 8th floor had a better chance. The people on that floor saw the fire start and grow and had a little time to do something for themselves. On the 9th floor it was terrible. When we first saw the fire it was already burning all around us. It came in at all the windows, up the elevator shafts and up the stairs. The shutters were rusted in.

The front was not for workers because there was nobody there to check on the packages and pocketbooks, so you had to go out the back way because in the back there was always a man watching to see that you did not take anything out of the shop.

My husband's sister worked on the 8th floor and she got out by going down the staircase. **(See note)

In fact that is how I met my husband -- when I went to meet Rose (they lived on Sherrif St.) and when we both went to testify in court. I worked in the shop for an inside contractor. We were three girls and this man. We worked section work. The other three were all burned to death.

I went back to work for Blank and I worked for him as a designer for a number of years but he never knew that I worked for Triangle. Harris became the Normandie Blouse and had a shop on 32nd St.

** Feinberg & Weisen

** Somebody from the Forwards interviewed her.

The Eastside was decorated with black flags.

I was one of the first witnesses called. Steuer certainly made me sweat. He put words in my mouth. He confused me and tried to prove I was lying. I said one word and he twisted it to mean its opposite. He prodded me and while I answered him I could see in front of me, the bodies of the girls falling through the air but he was trying to make me look like a fool. At one point I screamed out at him, "I am not lying, I am telling the truth. For god sakes I could see the whole thing in front of me."

I could have killed him. I could have scratched his eyes out. (Steuer)

I testified about the door being closed. I told them I tried the door in the front. There were about 150 girls on the floor. It was a long dressing room but when five girls were in it, it looked crowded. It had a sink, toilets but no cot.

I understand Blank moved to the West Coast.