Members from various national chapters of the WPO were invited to attend the Western Electric fifth annual Hawthorne Works' Employee Picnic 2004. Just as in 1915, our guests (members of WPO) arrived in downtown Chicago at the wharf along the Chicago River between Clark and LaSalle Streets. This time, however, instead of boarding an excursion steamer alongside the south bank of the river, our guests arrived at the north bank at Bob Chinn's Crab House Chicago. The gentlemen (wearing their skimmers) and the women were greeted by several actors dressed in attire from the turn of the century. Guests and actors alike portrayed different people who were involved in some way in the Eastland Disaster and its aftermath - firemen, priests, undertakers, survivors, and victims.
After socializing over cocktails, the WPO members walked through the gangway (double doors leading from the cocktail area into the dining room) and boarded the Eastland (entered the dining room). Once our guests had taken their seats, the Eastland tragedy was recreated through the use of multiple videos playing on a large screen. In between video segments, the actors, who only moments before had been mingling with the WPO members, came out one at a time to recount their personal experience of July 24, 1915. At the conclusion of the Eastland Disaster program, the actors gathered together and sang "The Boat That Never Left Town", a song written in 1915 about the Eastland tragedy.
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