November 1942 would end with a series major news stories requiring big headline type.
November 23, 1942
• American bombers sink a Japanese ship in Haiphong, Indo-China [Viet Nam].
• San Luis Obispo experienced butter and egg shortages.
November 24, 1942
• The Soviet army launched an offensive that threatened the entire Nazi position along the Volga River. One hundred miles west of Stalingrad a tank battle was underway as the Russians attempted to close the jaws of a trap on the spear point of the German offensive. The Soviet’s biggest ally, Winter, was waiting in the wings to strike as well.
• In London alarming news had reached the Polish government-in-exile that Heinrich Himmler, head of the Nazi Gestapo, was planning to murder half the Jewish population by the end of the year. According to a 1931 census Poland had 3,133,900 Jews or almost 10 per cent of the total population.
• On Saturday Nov. 28, 1942 at a popular Boston nightclub on Piedmont St., a bartender told a busboy to fix a light bulb at the top of an artificial palm tree.
Apparently a patron had unscrewed it when he wanted a more intimate moment with his date. The bus boy lit a match to locate the socket and soon the tree and ceiling decorations were in flames.
Cocoanut Grove had no fire sprinklers and emergency exits that were locked, blocked and concealed. It was difficult to identify the women killed in the fire because during the panic they were separated from their purses containing identification.
The final tally showed that 490 people were killed and 166 injured as panic and flames swept the Cocoanut Grove nightclub. The genesis of modern fire codes can be traced to this tragedy.
• In San Luis Obispo two felony prisoners escaped from the new jail, opened just three months earlier. Between 2 and 4 a.m. James Webb, 33, and Clyde Peters, 52 made good on their second attempt by prying third floor window bars loose and gaining access to the roof. A charred towel near the window may have been used as a signal light to an accomplice. Rolls of telephone wire on the roof of the newly constructed building may have aided in the climb down to the fire escape.
November 30, 1942
• Service stations were swamped on the last day before gasoline rationing went into effect.
Rationing stamps would be required starting in December. Motorists with A ration books were entitled to 32 gallons of gasoline over the first two months of 1943.