I Will Always Remember The 21ST. Of December 1975.
It was a beautiful Sunday morning in the country. Crisp and chilly but not too cold. Dad had the fires going throughout the house so it was warm when Donna and I got up to go to church. I was 17 years old and I was teaching the nursery class in Sunday School. Donna was 5 years younger than me. She loved Sunday School. I don’t remember why my parents didn’t go that Sunday and if they didn’t go my brother (16) certainly wasn’t going to go.
I do remember that we had our Christmas Program that night at 7PM. I was the narrator. Mom had made me a beautiful long dress to wear. I Had already been given that gift and a brand new pair of shoes the night before.
We all had spent a wonderful evening the night before in front of the fireplace, wrapping gifts and having appetizers and all sorts of good treats. It seemed to take me forever to wrap all the gifts I had gotten for everyone.
I had saved up money from working to buy special Christmas gifts for the family. About $300.00 for everyone.
I remember that figure but I have no idea what I got them.
I do remember what happened the night I bought them.
(That is a story for another time. A funny story about my little Fiat. )
Mom and dad might have stayed home to get the last of the preparations done for the upcoming week.
Not only was Christmas fast approaching but we had family from both sides coming to spend Christmas with us. It was our first Christmas in our new house. Our first Christmas in the older section of the house.
(Another story for another time. There was a small rundown house on the property when we moved to the farm. We renovated it and built a new house as well. My bedroom was the old kitchen).
I also remember that it was my cousin’s birthday.
So mom, dad and John stayed home while Donna and I headed off to church. The one thing I really remember is driving the 1975 yellow Pontiac convertible that day filled with laundry. I don’t remember why we had laundry to do after church and Sunday School.
I remember playing the radio that morning and listening to Christmas music.
No memories of that morning at church or teaching my class. I have long since forgotten them.
I have no idea why we came home with the still dirty laundry. I am assuming the laundromat was closed.
Donna and I were enjoying our time together on the way home. I was taking all the backroads as I often did. The radio was on once again. We were just having a really good time.
The tears have started to form already and my heart is heavy as I remember looking ahead and seeing a huge black stream of smoke ahead of us. Near our farm.
I remember feeling sorry for whoever’s house was on fire.
I remember the exact MOMENT I REALIZED it WAS OUR HOUSE ON FIRE.
The no it can’t be our house comments came even though I knew it was our house. I don’t remember anything more that driving faster than I should have been.
I remember driving down our driveway at a speed no one should ever drive.
I remember seeing other trucks around.
I don’t remember seeing the fire truck although there was one, maybe 2.
I remember looking for and finding my parents and brother.
I don’t remember seeing anything but the house engulfed in flames.
My room engulfed in flames.
I remember racing for my bedroom. Dad stopping me. Holding on to me.
My pillow. My bible. My stories. My photos. My book, My stamp collection. ALL GONE.
Dad or someone saved a chair from my room. Part of the antique table we had in the dining room
I remember crying and saying my…my….
The house was gone.
Oh we found a few odds and ends in the days to come. I found a blacken necklace of mine. Part of my jewelry box. My grandma’s melted class ring she had given me.
It quickly went from MY things to family things. All of the painting my grandma had given us. The picture she had painted of Dixie , Our beloved collie that had died just that fall.
She was 18.
I remember mom crying.
I remember dad crying.
My sister and brother just looked lost,
I remember the gifts we had wrapped the night before.
I remember realizing we had no place to spend the night.
I remember realizing we had 15 ?? people on their way to our HOUSE to spend Christmas.
We had no house.
The new quilt that grandma had just given Donna for her birthday on December 1ST.
The list went on and on.
There is a lot of time in between that I don’t remember of that day.
Later on I remember being in the gas station in Grafton, our small hometown.
The tears just came flooding down as I remember us walking into the gas station to buy toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, shampoo and other things. I remember Dad telling us to get anything we wanted. We were never told that before.
I remember walking out the door with a couple of books, notebooks, pens and pencils.
I remember mom crying because she didn’t have her purse.
She didn’t have a purse any more.
I remember the lady at the counter….We knew her and she had heard what had happened to us.
I remember her saying we didn’t have to pay for anything.
It was on her and her husband.
Other people in the gas station took up a collection for us.
I remember my dad saying thank you but we’d be alright.
Someone, Said “Please take it and Merry Christmas. ”
I don’t remember anything else until we got to church that night
Remember we had a Christmas Program and I was the narrator.
Donna had a song to sing with her class and a Bible verse to say.
I remember we walked in smelling like smoke.
I don’t remember taking a shower anywhere although I know we did.
We’d been given some clothes during the day.
There was no room at the church that night. Many had come to see what they could do to help us.
The Christmas Program went well. I honestly don’t remember narrating it but I did.
They gave us the collection that night.
The only thing I remember is at the end of the program. After my last line, I got back up and thanked everyone for what their wonderful gifts.
So did mom and dad.
I remember Praying to God in Heaven and Thanking him for that wonderful night. Thanking him because we were all alive and together. Our family was all here. (Our company was there with us).
I remember it as being the BEST Christmas Ever.
We all ended up staying in a friend’s small bungalow cottage that week. They were out of town for the holiday. We slept on the floor where ever there was room.
They also stayed in motels near by.
We had a house to stay in. Good food. Family. We were good.
We were blessed that 21st of December , 1975.