Death in the Primrose Hotel – Chapter 3 cont’d………

We continued through the basement to the steps leading up to the first floor. The steps leading up to the first floor didn’t look too safe and we gingerly picked our way up the stairway. They weren’t. Tom Forsythe almost stumbled when the first stair tread broke away under his weight. A few steps further up one complete tread was missing. We had to step on the stair stringer itself. The stairway came up into the upstairs back room of the dress shop where the dresses were cut and sewn. Six cobweb and dust covered Singer commercial grade sewing machines sat in the center of the room and two large dust covered cutting tables stood in front of the side windows.
“Six commercial sewing machines meant six women sewing dresses. That’s a lot of dressmaking. There must have been a helluva demand for dresses,” I said. Tom Forsythe nodded in agreement.
Each cutting table was five feet long, three feet wide and stood three feet above the floor. A sheet of ivory colored linoleum covered the tops of the wood tables. A pair of fitting slash dressing rooms occupied one corner of the sewing room.
We walked through the tattered curtain that separated the sewing room from the front sales room. Several dress mannequins stood around the room. Three of the mannequins wore dust and cobweb covered dress in the flapper style so prevalent during the twenties, their color indistinguishable by the dust. The other dust covered mannequins were without dresses.
Tom Forsythe, borrowing a steel digging bar from one of the labors and broke the lock on the front door. We stepped outside into the fresh air and now fading sunlight. It took a few seconds for our eyes to adjust to the sunshine. We each took in several deep breaths of fresh, clean, lung purging air trying to clear them of the dust we inhaled on out travels through the speakeasy, tunnel and out the dress shop. We walked slowly back along North Street to the Primrose Hotel breathing deeply taking in the fresh air. Vanessa gasped as Tom Forsythe and I, looking like a pair of ghosts covered in brick and mortar dust, as well as regular old dust, walked into the Primrose Hotel lobby through the street entrance.

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