CATASTROPHES: Normandie Burns

Some 1,500 workers swarmed over her vast bulk, twisting her elegance into a bleak wartime pattern for the Navy. Then one bright, blithe afternoon this week a puff of smoke drifted across her promenade deck. A few minutes later, the deck was completely ablaze. After two and a half years of idling at a Manhattan pier, the Lafayette (as the U.S. had renamed the Normandie), a ship into which the French had poured $60,000,000 and some 2,500,000 man-days of labor, was in danger of turning into a fire-blackened hulk.

Whirled along by...

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