Childhood Memories: The House that Burned

Childhood Memories FridayAs I child, I remember learning about fires in school.  You know, “stop, drop, and roll” and all that. I remember some nights, wondering about how I could get out of my second-story (well, actually 1.5 stories — it was a split-level) window should fire break out at night. Looking back, it seems that fire was overemphasized a bit, because really, how many people’s houses actually do burn down?

But in my childhood, there were memories and talk of a house that burned.

In January 1969, my grandparents’ farmhouse did burn down. Here, you can see just a bit of their house in the background. That’s my grandparents with my sister.

farmhouse 1968Less than a year later, here is what was left of the house:

burned house ruins 1969Me (age 4) and my sister posing by “the ruins.” Since I was so young when their original house burned, I don’t remember much about it. I’m guessing it burned so thoroughly because it was out in the country and it probably took the firemen a while to arrive. Still, pretty much everything was gone. My mom still saves almost everything, and perhaps that’s because she experienced such a devastating fire.

living room 1969And here my sister and I are the next day, posing with Grandma and Grandpa in their new house. This one I do remember, since it was their house throughout my childhood. I remember curved doorways (see one on the right), and of course the beads curtain over the bathroom window. I spent lots of time imagining various stories based on the curves in the marble-like design of the bathroom floor, and I can’t imagine how many old magazines I read while sitting on the couch. The upstairs had a single large room, rather dark. The basement was  unfinished, except for a fully-finished extra kitchen. And there was a neat “breezeway” connecting the house with the garage.

Has there ever been a house fire in your childhood memories? What do you remember about your grandparents’ house?

4 thoughts on “Childhood Memories: The House that Burned

  1. In those pictures of mother, she was more than 10 years younger than me today. My home place burning is a horrible memory for me.

  2. One of my very early childhood memories is the burning of my aunt and uncle’s house. It was around 9pm on a cold winter evening with snow on the ground when I was about 4 years old. Since it was the home of my dad’s favorite sister and 2 close first cousins of mine, this memory really stuck with me. Their house was a total loss also, and I remember the very cramped small house trailer that they lived in for the next couple of years until the new house was built.

  3. Of course, this is very poignant, since it was my childhood home that burned. There were several reasons it burned to the ground. One was that it was in the country. Another is that we had only volunteer firefighters, so they had to drive some distance to get to the fire station and then drive the firetrucks out to the farm. Another reason is that it was a very cold January day, with a windchill near zero, so firefighters had trouble even staying on ladders. The water froze on the rungs of the ladders and the firemen slipped off. There were other reasons too, but suffice it to say, it was a very sad day. But God was good. Some of my parents happiest days were in their home in Huntingburg.

  4. Fire, so powerful. I did not experience a fire as personal as this but as a child I too remember being taught about fire and fearing our home or barn would one day burn down. Barn fires were always a hazard especially during hay season and I do recall a few families effected in this way. Another memory, one (maybe autumn) night, when I was about eight, one of my older brothers was tucking me into bed when I noticed something. Out my window there was something that looked like a candle flame. I pointed it out to my brother and he couldn’t tell me what it was. The next morning I learned that the Catholic Church that was over 4 miles away from our home had been completely lost to fire.

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