The Christmas Fire


In Late fall of 1950, Mother Nature gave us an indication of things to come. An early Pre-Thanksgiving blizzard set the stage for the rest of the winter. For a while, it was uncertain as if Thanksgiving would come off at all, but at the eleventh hour the weather cleared and dinner went off without a hitch!
Christmas was spent in the usual fashion , with family. Being six, I had received a good supply of loot from Santa including a basketball and a pair of cowboy boots. I was living in rural Indiana, the basketball was sacred.

December 28th started as a typical cold winter day, my dad had decided to raise turkeys the next year and it was nearly time for the chicks to be delivered, so donning my prized cowboy boots I decided to go with him to the hatchery to see when they would be ready for pick-up.
Most of the heating was done with wood or coal stoves during that period of time,  we had a couple of chimney fires prior to this, so there wasn’t much alarm when mom called and said that the house was on fire. Dad just assumed it was another chimney fire and it would burn itself out before we could get home.
However after thinking about it for a couple of minutes and  seeing large billowing smoke coming from the direction of our farm it was quickly determined this was more than a simple chimney fire. Racing for the car, we were on our way home in seconds.

Vines hatchery sat on a high hill, the first obstacle in getting home was  State Highway  350. At the bottom of the hill, dad never even slowed up.  I knew then it was going to be a nail-biting ride home. Practically flying down this gravel road the closer to home we got the faster the car went. Sliding around corners and leaving a dust trail that seemed to stretch for miles we were making record time. Not knowing what was happening at home and thinking that mom was still in the house created a real sense of urgency.
Our car didn’t have real good tires and the brakes were worse. As we approached our driveway another crisis arose. Our driveway was at the bottom of a big hill and the Napoleon fire truck was coming from the other direction. Dad had been riding the brakes a lot  negotiating tight turns at high speed, so the brakes were about as useful as a trap door in a submarine. The fire truck would just have to wait a minute.Sliding sideways into our lane, the car rolled half way up the hill in front of our house before it came to a stop.
Thinking mom was in the house we jumped from the car and raced towards it. My grandparents were already there , so I stayed with them while my dad went inside, great, now I have both parents inside a burning building.
It was about that time I felt a tap on my shoulder, it was mom!
She asked,”Where is dad?”
 I responded,”He’s inside looking for you.”
 After doing some laundry, mom had lain down to take a nap, waking up and smelling smoke, she raced for the kitchen and the phone.The fire was too hot,  so mom ran to the neighbors a half mile away to call us and the fire department. She was coming back home and saw us go flying by, but we never noticed, we were too busy trying to keep the car between the ditches.
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Luckily about that same time dad came crawling out of the burning house, so everyone was safe.
By that time everyone from ten miles around had gathered,  there was plenty of help to put out the fire and salvage what was left. We didn’t have cell phones, instant messaging or Fox news then, but news traveled faster than it does today.
Luckily the fire had been confined to the kitchen and dining room so most of our belongings had been saved, except for my basketball.  Major disaster, that was Santa’s new job, bring another basketball.Thankfully, I was wearing my cowboy boots, so they were safe.

Many thanks to the Napoleon Fire department for a job well done.

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 The author has been a writer/ photographer for over 20 years, specializing in nature, landscapes and studying native cultures. Besides visiting most of the United States, he has traveled to such places as Egypt, the Canary Islands, much of the Caribbean. He has studied  the Mayan Cultures in Central America and the Australian Aboriginal way of life.Photography has given him the opportunity to observe life in many different parts of the world!

He has published several books about the various cultures he has observed.

For more information and a link to his hardcover and Ebooks, and contact information: please check his website,

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