The scars left on the living- survivors and relatives- of those murdered by arsonists in Hoboken's recent past were painfully expressed here yesterday.
I'm still thinking about them.
I went searching online for historical records of the 1982 Pinter Hotel fire, relived in those posts and instead found this nearly 30 year-old New York Times article published a year before the Pinter Fire.
A year before the 7 family members of posters marisol xenon and dani were murdered.
So the writing was on the wall- and the New York Times- when those 7 people-- and the other 6 who perished with them were still living and breathing.
An atmosphere of fear pervaded our city back then, in the 70's and 80's, never knowing when the next building would be torched.
''People are very frightened. They're still in mourning now, but the fear will return soon,'' said Sister Norberta of St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, who has organized Por La Gente (For the People), a tenants' group formed to fight arson.
Despite their fears, Sister Norberta said that most of the residents, even those who have survived the fires, will continue to live in the same tenements because there is no affordable housing elsewhere.
To fight what they call their arson war, members of Por La Gente are stationing guards on rooftops to watch for arsonists. Other tenants have begun sleeping at the homes of friends or relatives.
''If someone sets out to burn a building, we can stave them off, but we cannot stop them,'' said Sister Norberta. ''And that's no victory, I can assure you. With certain landlords, if they cannot get people out one way or another, fire might be a solution.''
After the recent fires, city officials intensified inspections for fire-prevention and Building Code violations. Also, the City Council is pushing for an ordinance requiring smoke detectors in all multifamily dwellings with four or more housing units.
The majority of victims were children.
Why was no one ever held accountable? Is it too late?
(Update, 5:15 pm)A good friend, born and raised here in Hoboken, sent me this:
great series ....but really painful to even read. I caught my breath when I opened your site yesterday and again today. You forget how fresh it can still be.
I love the winter...always did..but its hard now because so many people have fireplaces. That smells throws me every time. My stomach clutches and the memories flood back every time I smell it. Waiting once more for the screams that usually followed...always at 2am.
It was a horrible time in Hoboken. Not only did my friends die or lose their homes, anyone left lived in fear. Everyone was afraid. Even if you didn't live in an apartment building, you were next to, across or behind one. The community was literally being terrorized.
I too am often nostalgic for the "old Hoboken" Growing up here was fabulous....thousands of kids in the schools, hundreds of kids in the rec programs, everyone knew each other. Where did they all go? Why did they leave? Sure, there are many great things about the "new" Hoboken, but not everyone got to enjoy it. Some paid with their life so others could profit.
Thanks for sharing, friend.