|The Fire (standard:non fiction, 1048 words)|
|Author: Sarah||Added: Apr 02 2001||Views/Reads: 2401/1270||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|The vivid and painful recollections of my mother as she tells of the fire that destroyed her home when she was a child of eight.|
THE FIRE The eight-year-old child stood staring at the smoldering remains of what, till an hour ago, had been her family home as she pushed the toe of her laced, high-top, black shoe into the ashes at her feet. Cinders and small pieces of wood were still burning but all that really remained of their beautiful, two-story home was the chimney. The year was 1921. She looked up as her brother, two years older, approached her and held out his hand. "Here, Annie, I found this," he said solemnly. Silently she raised her head and reached to take his offering, her face streaked from the sooty tears that had fallen from her large grey-green eyes. In his hand was the porcelain head of the doll she had received for Christmas a few months earlier. The hair was gone and the eyes had melted. The doll had been so beautiful, her clothing so elaborate, the child had kept her on a shelf in the parlor next to the piano taking her down for a few minutes each day to touch the golden hair and feel the silky texture of her gown before returning her to the safety of the shelf. Moments later, her tall handsome father, clothes torn and dirty and smelling of smoke, gathered her up in his strong, soot-covered arms and carried her to the buggy. Her pain was so great and the ache so deep, she could not give expression to the thoughts that were screaming in her brain. "It can't be gone. My house just can't be gone. I've got to go back inside. Just one more time." Instead, she leaned against her father's side, his arm protectively gathering her close, the now deformed doll's head clasped tightly in her hand as her father drove the buggy holding his family -- wife, son, and daughter -- and all their worldly possessions down the road to the neighbor's farm where they would spend the night. * * * * * My dad had hired Mr. Askew, a house builder, to build our house. It's the first house I remember. I think I was born there. It was a large two-story house with three bedrooms and a hall upstairs. Downstairs, front to back, was a parlor, dining room, and kitchen with a pantry. Off to the side of the kitchen was a small porch. Across from the parlor and dining room was the living room. A porch ran across the front of the house and around the living room side. The front door opened into the parlor. On the side porch another door opened into the living room. The door to the upstairs was also in the living room. A fireplace was built into the wall separating the parlor from the living room. On the living room side, a pipe from the heater stove used the same flue. When we used the heater, we closed off the fireplace opening in the parlor with a piece of building board so the heat wouldn't go up the chimney. Before he left the house the morning of the fire, my dad put ashes on the coals in the heater stove to keep them from going completely out. This was called "banking the fire" and was a common thing to do so that it would be easy to get a fire going again later. My stepmother had put some papers in the fireplace the day before when she cleaned up the parlor. Then she replaced the board against the opening. When my dad banked the fire, we think a spark must have flown up the chimney and landed back down in the fireplace where the papers had been placed. The board was covered with paper so it would burn easily too. We know the fire started in the parlor. My brother and I and my stepmother had left for school in our buggy pulled by our horse, Daisy, as usual that morning. My stepmother was the teacher. My dad had gone down to our "bottom" field with some wire stretchers. He was going to stretch wire on a fence he was erecting and had slung the heavy wire stretchers across his back . When he got about half-way down to the bottom field--at least a half mile away--he turned around and saw heavy dark smoke coming from the Click here to read the rest of this story (35 more lines)
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