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Jim Kershner’s This day in history

Thu., July 8, 2010

From our archives,

100 years ago

The Fourth of July was far more dangerous in Spokane in 1910 than it is today, and the story of little Gertrude Delaney, 3, illustrates why.

The little girl had been with an older sister at their home on Post Street, “thoroughly enjoying her celebration,” which apparently involved setting off prodigious amounts of firecrackers.

“The baby suddenly screamed and her clothing was seen to be aflame,” reported The Spokesman-Review. “Assistance quickly came, but not until the wee body was a mass of deep burns, the face, neck and hands coming in for the worst of them.”

A team of doctors worked on her, and at first they feared for both her eyesight and her life. But four days later, doctors reported that she was recovering. Her condition was still described as grave, but one doctor said it now appeared that she would pull through – and with “scarcely a mark on her face.”

Burns and maimings were appallingly common on the Fourth of July. The paper also reported that a little girl, 7, in Porthill, Idaho, bit into a “torpedo” (a percussion-cap firework) and will be “disfigured for life.”

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1994: Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s communist leader since 1948, died at age 82.

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