House of Mystery Radio

Share

MITCHEL P. ROTH - FIRE IN THE BIG HOUSE

On April 21, 1930—Easter Monday—some rags caught fire under the Ohio Penitentiary’s dry and aging wooden roof, shortly after inmates had returned to their locked cells after supper. In less than an hour, 320 men who came from all corners of Prohibition-era America and from as far away as Russia had succumbed to fire and smoke in what remains the deadliest prison disaster in United States history.


Within 24 hours, moviegoers were watching Pathé’s newsreel of the fire, and in less than a week, the first iteration of the weepy ballad “Ohio Prison Fire” was released. The deaths brought urgent national and international focus to the horrifying conditions of America’s prisons (at the time of the fire, the Ohio Penitentiary was at almost three times its capacity). Yet, amid darkening world politics and the first years of the Great Depression, the fire receded from public concern.


In Fire in the Big House, Mitchel P. Roth does justice to the lives of convicts and guards and puts the conflagration in the context of the rise of the Big House prison model, local and state political machinations, and American penal history and reform efforts. The result is the first comprehensive account of a tragedy whose circumstances—violent unrest, overcrowding, poorly trained and underpaid guards, unsanitary conditions, inadequate food—will be familiar to prison watchdogs today

More Episodes

9/25/2020

THE LAST GOODBYE - D.C. CHAMBERS

The Last Goodbye shows a complex relationship between twenty-five-year-old Sonny Noir, a gay man feeling beaten by the system, and forty-two-year-old Jacqueline Svenson Skylar, a newly transplanted wealthy New York socialite who recently moved to Chicago carrying a lifetime of unhappiness on her shoulders. Sonny Noir’s Story opens with a riveting quadruple homicide at the Miami International Airport on February 13, 1981, which the news media quickly labeled as the “Friday the 13th Massacre at MIA.” It circles back in time with him telling his life story from his teen years to the day he and Jacqueline witness the unfolding scene at MIA. He searches to find a balance between his love life as a gay man, desperately tries to understand the mounting complications of his friendship with a straight woman whose life has fallen apart, and the struggles of social injustice against the lesbian and gay community he encounters along the way. Through all his ups and downs, he fights to stay true to his own identity. He’s not exclusive to surrounding himself with men. He also cherishes the comfort of women as friends. Sonny and Jacqueline find a connection within the first few minutes of meeting while attending The Oak Park School of Hairstyling, even though they come from opposite ends of society and the money spectrum. Sonny is driven and worked hard to achieve a great education to pull himself up from his lower middle-class roots. But after five years in his computer career, he became disheartened and began to lose hope in the American Dream. He encounters many disappointments in his life, but he’s a fighter. Sonny and Jacqueline’s lives are filled with never-ending trials and tribulations, alcoholism, and cheating. It leaves you asking the question many times over—Why can’t they part and go their separate ways?—leading up to the realization that saying goodbye may be their only way to survive.
9/23/2020

MALCOLM CAMPBELL - CALL SIGN CHARLEY ONE

A True Crime Memoir By Malcolm CampbellCall Sign Charley One:Malcolm, an ex-soldier and law-abiding family man, starts a new job as a retail security officer, covering West Midlands cities. On his third day, his life changes forever after being viciously attacked by a newly released prisoner high on crack cocaine.The injury and trauma of this attack results in Malcolm entering into shock, withdrawn, and frightened. A shadow of his true self. Over time, security staff and criminals laugh at him, labeling him a coward.However, no one could have known about the horrifying past Malcolm had endured, and the town was certainly not prepared for the ferocity of his response.This story documents a four-year period where Malcolm single-handedly achieves over four hundred arrests with five assassination attempts on his life. He responds to burglaries, assaults, bulk thefts, knife attacks, and muggings. He takes us on foot chases through housing estates, parks, towns, and cities, pursuing criminals through rivers and fast-moving traffic.Fanatical, enraged, and completely obsessed, slipping into psychosis, family and friends fear the worst as his bravery becomes suicidal. Often beaten to an inch of his life, now death, has become his shadow.This gripping and controversial true story sends us hurtling into the dark world of crime and chaos, documenting a harrowing, shocking, and sinister journey which exposes everything with complete transparency by reliving the true story of one man's battle to uphold the good within his heart while fighting the evil that lies within.