TWAS ONE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, I think it may have been 1957 or 1958, Daddy
was feverishly scrambling to finish laying the new hardwood floor in
the living room. It was getting late in the evening and all of the
younger children were already asleep.
Shirley and I were awake because at that time our beds were in the
living room. The hammering was keeping us awake.
Daddy was so close to being done with the job, he wanted to continue
in order to have it all completed for Christmas. I think it was about
10 o'clock. Mommy was helping him (off and on) as well as putting the
finishing touches on her Christmas preparations. Shirley and I were
watching & we were all quietly singing Christmas carols
(except for Daddy - who was "whistling while he worked".
SUDDENLY, we heard a loud explosion & some popping noises --
like firecrackers, we thought!
TO THE WINDOW WE RAN IN A FLASH AND PULLED OPEN THE SASH
(Curtain, I mean, sorry).
Flames were leaping furiously from the house next door (below the
Mommy immediately called the fire department and Daddy
FLEW TOWARD THE CLATTER TO SEE WHAT WAS THE MATTER.
We watched in horror as the big house became almost totally ablaze.
(I don't remember for sure, but it seems that the other children woke
up to the commotion and joined with us to watch the spectacle).
There was quite a large family that lived there. It was frightening
to watch and woory for their safety.
The fire dept. arrived and began to fight the fire, and soon Daddy
came back and told us that everyone was safe. He said that the mother
and most of the children had not been home because they were visiting
relatives for Christmas. The father and one child were home, but
were able to get out safely.
We were so relieved to hear that!
At some later point, I remember hearing that it was suspected that the
father may have set the fire intentionally but I never heard if that
was proven to be true.
Days later, we were allowed a very careful peak inside the charred
remains of the house. I will never forget the ugliness left by that
fire, nor the stench of the wet debris! The house was a total loss
and was eventually demolished.
The property was sold and the new owners had a house moved onto the lot.
They fixed it up and rented it out. A few years later that "new" house
on the SAME neighboring lot also caught on fire! This time it was a
chimney fire. It was also quite a fright and brought back nightmarish
memories. The fire deptartment:
WENT UP ON THE ROOF and
...PUTTING THE CHIMNEY RIGHT UNDER THEIR HOSE
up and down the chimney no longer fire ROSE.
They were able to put this fire out in short order so that
there wasn't much damage.
In any case, two fires next door was two too many!