Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2018 - 55

a fateful decision to stay a few more
weeks to make sure she was really
well.
On the evening of March 10,
1948, a fire broke out in the Central Building at Highland Hospital
where Zelda was staying. Witnesses
could hear the harrowing, desperate
screams of women on the top floor
as flames held them hostage and
consumed their lives. There was no
way out-some of the windows were
locked, others were barred by heavy
chains. Corridor doors were locked.
The building didn't have alarms or
sprinklers, and the wooden fire escape quickly went up in flames.
Testimony at a coroner's inquest
revealed that Zelda and four other
women on the top floor had been
given strong sedatives to induce
sleep. In all, nine women died in
the fire.
According to author Sally Cline's
research in her book "Zelda Fitzger-

Zelda's body was
identified by a red leather
slipper that she wore.
ald: Her Voice in Paradise," the
night nurse supervisor, Willie Mae
Hall, reportedly walked into police
headquarters after the fire and asked
to be locked up, telling officers she
"may have" set the fire. No arson
charges were ever filed, but reports
state that Hall was committed to

Grayson Mental Hospital at the
Bowman Gray School of Medicine
in Winston-Salem.
Zelda's body was identified by a
red leather slipper that she wore, its
burnt remains somehow a symbol
of the hamartia-the fatal flaw-of
her own personal Greek Tragedy. 

March/April 2018 55


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2018

Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2018 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2018 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2018 - Cover2
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Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2018 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2018 - Cover4
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