I read the Globe article about the Cocoanut Grove tragedy (July 15) and wanted to share a story I recently heard about my father's narrow escape the night of the fire.
When my father was at Harvard, before the war, his initiation into one of the clubs (Spee) consisted of going to the Cocoanut Grove for a huge dinner, with absolutely no money. He wound up in the kitchen washing dishes to pay for his meal. He was a resourceful guy, and when he discovered a laundry chute in the kitchen, he escaped the pile of dirty dishes by sliding through.
On the night of November 28, 1942, my father again went to the Cocoanut Grove, this time with money in his pocket, expecting a good time. He went with a guest who was a young man with a broken leg. When the Cocoanut Grove caught fire, my father remembered the laundry chute in the kitchen, lugged his friend quickly into the kitchen, helped his friend into the chute first, then climbed in behind him, and they both landed safely on the street outside.
This story has been passed down and, since he is no longer alive, I have no way of confirming it, but I thought someone might be interested in it. His name was Robert Winsor.