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Monday, February 9, 2015

February 9, 1944: Allies Holding Bridgehead


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The Johnstown Tribune - February 9, 1944
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Local Names:
Alfred JeSchonek
Edward Radasky
Marion Louise Barnes
Mary Jo Litzinger
Margaret Schneider
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Follow up to the missing toddler swallowed by a sinkhole:
Jule Ann's survival chances were listed as 1,000 to 1. 
    Hours after crews removed more than 100 tons of soil from the hole, they gave up hope of finding Jule Ann alive. The Wilkes-Barre Record reported 15 men worked in two-hour shifts and removed the dirt with winches. A second cave-in occurred at 9:30 p.m., making the work more dangerous. Advanced machinery was brought in to complete the project. 
    By Wednesday, an official estimated more than 550 tons of debris had been removed. 
    Emergency crews battled the cave-in, soil slides and a water main break as they searched for the toddler. Nearly 30 hours after she disappeared, Jule Ann's body was recovered at 7:20 p.m. Wednesday, about 19 feet below the sidewalk level. Protected by sand, it had only slight bruises. A faint mark was also visible on her face. 
    Jule Ann's body was uncovered after workers used a steam shovel to remove debris. Rescuers initially passed her body, digging down 40 feet. The Wilkes-Barre Record reported workers saw a red cloth - from Jule Ann's snowsuit or bonnet - "on the side of the hole about 21 feet from the bottom. 
    "Vibration caused the sand to trickle down one side of the slope, away from the body, revealing a tiny hand and then a small leg," the newspaper reported. 
    Deputy Coroner C.E. Howell of Pittston said Jule Ann suffocated. 
    Almost simultaneously with the rescue efforts, then-Mayor John Reilly called an emergency meeting of coal company leaders to discuss what had happened and to prevent future settlements. 
    In Ellis W. Roberts' "The Ballad of Jule Ann Fulmer," Roberts points to coal robbing as causing the ground collapse. At the time, uncut coal pillars were left underground to support the earthen ceiling. The columns were easy prey for robbers. 
    Jule Ann's older brother Howard, now living in Wyoming, was in school when the accident occurred. Though he remembers little of what happened (he was 9 years old at the time), he still has a yellowed copy of the Feb. 9, 1944, Times Leader Evening News and a sepia-toned photo of his young sister. 
    Jule Ann was buried on Feb. 12. She was the daughter of George and Jule Ann Fulmer. According to the Times Leader Evening News, services were held at the home of her grandfather, George Fulmer, 12 Searle St., Pittston. 

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