Gulf Hotel Fire – September 7, 1943

City in Ruins

Fifty-five men, many of them elderly and living off government relief, died in the early morning of September 7, 1943 in the worst hotel fire in Houston, Texas history.

The Coshocton Tribune, 07 Sep 1943, Tue, Page 1

The Coshocton Tribune,  September 7. 1943

The fire started around 12:10 a.m. the front desk clerk was alerted to a problem on the second floor. A lit cigarette inadvertently caused a mattress to begin smoldering. Several guests of the hotel aided the clerk in extinguishing the small fire. The mattress, thought to be completely fine, was moved to a closet in a hallway on the second floor. Minutes later the mattress burst in flames and the fire spread quickly throughout the second floor and moved its way toward the third.

The old hotel only had two emergency exits, both on one side of the building and the flames blocked one of those exits and an interior stairwell became engulfed leaving many of the 133 guests trapped.

The fire department was located near the hotel and received the alarm at 12:50am. By the time they arrived on the scene the building was engulfed in flames. The fire tore through the old building quickly and burned so hot that the fire department could not place ladders against the building to help people escape.


The aged men struggled to get out of the building. Many we able to slowly escape from the one working escape, but for many the situation became dire. Unable to leave through an exit many resorted to extreme measures. Two men jumped out the window, one man was killed trying to climb down the building by a burning window falling on him and many just stayed in their room and hope the flames would not reach them.

By the time the fire was extinguished, fifty-five men were dead. 38 men were burned to death, 15 died of smoke inhalation and the two men who jumped to their death.

The Gulf Hotel is a common story – an old building, not up to code, holding too many people without proper exits and no sprinkler system. Many of the lessons that could have been learned by the conflagration were ignored or completely forgotten. The Gulf Hotel fire was the biggest fire of 1943 (Cocoanut Grove) or even the biggest story in the newspapers that day. World War II raged on and a train wreck in Pennsylvania killed 79 people and injured 117.


The St. Louis Star and Times,  07 Sep 1943


A Picture of Debbie Reynolds

Cardboard Greetings, Cardboard Motels, Uncategorized


1316 So. Congress – Highway 81
1 mile south from main business center. Close to everything – Brick exterior – Carpeted rooms – Tile baths – Phones – Vented heat – Air-Conditioned – TV. AAA Approved. Member of the Best Western Motels.

Mailed from Austin, Texas to MGM Studios in Culver City, California on May 16, 1956:

Dear Sirs,
Please send me a picture of Debbie Reynolds!
Pat Kolb
1316 S. Congress
Austin 22, Texas


Lest We Forget: President John F. Kennedy’s Last Hour in Dallas

Cardboard America

President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed at 12:30pm Central time on Friday, November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. The event shocked and horrified the nation and the world. Companies looking to make money, commercialized the tragedy and quickly rushed out postcards and mementos from that fateful day.

This series of postcards from an unknown publisher is a perfect example of a company in a rush to get items out regardless of quality. These postcards were printed from somebody’s personal photos and made in to a pack of 12 and sold within a few weeks of the tragedy. There is no publisher listed on the cards.


No. 1, Arrival of President’s Escort Plane at Love Field, Dallas, Texas


No. 2. Presidential and Escort Plane at Dallas’ Love Field Landed shortly after this pictures was taken


No. 3, President John F. Kennedy and party leaving airplane at Love Field. (Mrs Kennedy – pink hat)


No. 4, President John F. Kennedy and Party in foreground at Dallas’ Love Field


No. 5, Vice-President Johnson, Governor Connally, Mrs. Kennedy (pink hat), other members of party at Dallas Love Field


No. 6, Vice-President Johnson, Governor John Connally, Presidential Party and Newspaper Men, Love Field, Dallas


No. 7, Forming of Presidential Parade, Love Field, Dallas.


No. 8, After Assassination, TV Unit arrives at Parkland Hospital in Dallas


No. 9, Blood Bank Unit at Parkland Hospital on fatal day, Dallas, Texas


No. 10, Hearse carrying President John F. Kennedy’s body and Mrs. Kennedy from Parkland Hospital back to airplane at Love Field, Dallas.


No. 11. Presidential plane awaiting President Kennedy’s body, Vice-President John and Mrs. Kennedy, for return to Washington, D.C. (Note Presidential seal)


No. 12. Texas School Book Depository building from which authorities believe fatal shots were fired. (Note second window down on right corner of building.)