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Memory Monday-House Fire

Memory Monday-It’s a thing…

If I remember correctly, a few months after the barn burned, we also had a small house fire. During full house years, we used every available room and space in the house. We set up a twin size bed in the utility room which took up almost the entire room. Because of the bed, the door couldn’t be fully opened. Some of us were doubled up in queen size beds to make sure there was enough room for everyone. The two rooms upstairs were full as well.

For entertainment, we all swapped books and most of the bedrooms had some sort of radio. We had two TVs in the house; one floor model in the living room and a smaller table top TV upstairs. We were so far out in the country; we didn’t have cable TV and satellite TV required a lot of money and a lot of space because the dishes were huge in the early 80s.

One day, some of us were in the kitchen having lunch. Beverly and Bonnie had been upstairs watching TV before they came to the kitchen for lunch. While we were sitting there, Bonnie said she smelled smoke and followed the scent to the stairs. She ran up the steps and yelled out that the little TV was on fire. With the barn burning still fresh in our minds, all the adults took off running up the stairs.

I grabbed Brett, and half dragged him out the front door. I hurried him out to the little bridge away from the house to wait. After a fire safety lesson at school, I talked to my mom about a safe meeting point and we decided the bridge would be the best place. Brett and I waited to see what would happen.

Finally, Mom came and told us we could go back inside. Bonnie made it to the TV first and with some quick thinking, she managed to grab the TV to toss it out the window. Thankfully, she wasn’t hurt in the process. Other than a few melted spots on the linoleum, the house was undamaged. From that point on, we didn’t leave anything plugged in upstairs.




Memory Monday-Barn Burning

Memory Monday-Barn Burning

Memory Monday-It’s a thing…

I’m not talking about the William Faulkner story Barn Burning today. You should read Faulkner’s story, but since you’re here right now anyway, read my story first.

Living on a small farm, we had a barn across the branch from the house. The barn housed some of our animal, stored farming equipment, and protected our hay. According to the adults in the house, the barn was the pinnacle of danger. To us kids, it was the coolest hang out spot ever. The barn was off limits to me as the youngest and only girl. The older boys wouldn’t let me tag along when they would go up into the hayloft. I’m sure it was because they would go up there to look at nudie magazines, smoke cigarettes, and cuss.

My grandfather passed away in June 1984. Later that same summer, I woke one night to the sounds screaming and yelling outside. An odd glow lit up my room, and I pulled back my curtain to look out my bedroom window to see what was going on outside. Across the dirt road and branch, our barn was burning. Bright, orange flames stretched toward the stars. The wood crackled, and the smell was a mix of burning wood and hay. I could see outlines of people running in and out of the light cast by the fire. It took me several minutes to realize aunts, uncle, and older cousins were running into the barn to save whatever they could carry out.  I don’t remember us losing any animals that night. Granny sold most of the larger animals after Grandpa’s death.

I remember everyone at the barn coming back to the house covered in soot, exhausted, thirsty, and devastated. There was no hope of the fire department making it us in time to save any part of the barn. While I’m sure a fire truck must have arrived at some point, I don’t remember one ever arriving.

Watching the burn and my family risk their lives is one of the top five most horrifying moments of my life. We didn’t have much, but they were fighting to save what we had. What was most horrifying was the knowledge that we lived so far away from help. We had to be our own firefighters, our own medical services, and even our own search and recovery team.

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