For my first Flashback Friday, I chose a memory that all starts with a fire. I’ll never forget that day in 1992. I was helping my dad with giving out bags for the Boy Scouts Food Drive and I remember sitting on the steps of the Boy Scout Hall when the fire whistle (we have a volunteer fire department – small town thing) went off. I watched the trucks pull out of the station, located just down the street, and scream past us with the sirens blaring. The only thought that ever went through my mind when that whistle went off was, “I hope it’s not someone I know.” I still think that whenever I hear it. When my dad and I got home, my mom wasn’t there, but there was a message on the answering machine. My dad hit the button (I was down the hall but could still hear it) and it was my mom. Her voice was a little shaky and I don’t remember her exact words but it was something like “I’m at Mom and Dad’s. Their house caught on fire.” The message was longer but that’s about all I remember because my heart just sank. My great-grandmother, Mert, was in the beginning stages of her dementia (she died of Alzheimer’s in 2004) and was living with them. Panic…
Thankfully one of the firemen lived right behind them and saw the smoke. Even though I know I’ll never forget that day, the majority of it is a blur. Bishop is a small town where everyone knows everyone, for the most part. It was surreal as my dad drove down Ma and Pa’s street and see the various lights of all the emergency vehicles parked in front of a house you’ve known your whole life and practically grew up in. Lucky for them it was just an attic fire but they lost just about everything up there. All the Christmas ornaments were lost, even the ones my mom and uncle made when they were kids. I remember clutching on to someone, I think it was my mom, as we walked through one part of the house and into the backyard where people had laid out the things that were salvaged. Someone just kept telling me that things, possessions can be replaced, people can’t and thank God no one was hurt. Grandma Mert was sitting pretty much right below the fire and suffered a little smoke inhalation.
Not too long after that, once the house was fixed, I had my 10th birthday party there. I think I remember that day a little better than I do the fire. I didn’t have too many friends over but we did have a blast. We split up into groups and went on a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood. The last thing on our list was a wing nut. Even with my grandfather building stuff (he build a grandfather clock) I learned what a wing nut was on that day and the guy who lived in the second house from the end of the street just happened to have one. I don’t remember if my team won but we sure did have fun. Then we played dress-up with a trunk full of dresses from the 60s and 70s (there may have been at least one from the 50s thrown in somewhere) posing for my mom and grandma and banning my brother and his friend Jarrett from the room. I think that was the year I got my Monopoly game too.
In the picture (from left to right) is me, Mindy (my best friend of 21 years now), peeking out from the back is Abby and on the far right is Amanda (whom I’ve known since we were both 2 years old growing up down the street from each other). The two girls in the middle I honestly don’t remember their names and I feel really, really bad about that. Sorry. What can I say? It was 18 years ago.