Sunday, October 03, 2010

Magpie Tales # 34
In the dark of dawn on an early spring day in the year 1908, Nina Larocque finished breast feeding 7 month old Willard.  She laid him, sleeping, in his bassinet, turned the flame down on the kerosene lamp and went to the kitchen to prepare breakfast for her husband Jim.

Twenty four year old Jim, a corner grocery store owner, followed by the family dog Laddie, came into the kitchen just as Nina was putting his breakfast on the table.  He asked Nina if she was going to join him for breakfast, but she said she wanted to get a load of laundry done so she could hang it out before Willard awakened.  She would eat after that if time allowed.

Jim left the house most mornings near seven AM or there abouts.  It took a good twenty minutes to a half an hour to walk up to his store on New York Ave; giving himself time to get things ready before he opened at eight o'clock.  When he left, Laddie was asleep under the kitchen table, Nina was already out in the back yard hanging up the clothes, and Thelma, his oldest, was still upstairs asleep.

When he closed the door behind him as he left the house, Thelma heard the door close and came down the stairs at a run calling after him wanting to say 'bye.  The commotion woke Laddie who came running to see what Thelma was yelling at and as he came by Willard's bassinet his vigorously wagging tail struck the oil lamp knocking It on the floor spilling kerosene all over the carpet and under the bassinet and caught fire immediately.  Thelma frightened out of her wits ran to the kitchen yelling to her mother only to find her mother not there.  Nina, hearing all the yelling, called to her that she was in the yard.  Thelma rushed out through the back door and told her mother in a rush of breathless words that the dog had set the floor on fire under Will's bed.

When Nina rushed in to the baby's bassinet she found it fully inflames and Willard's cries/ screams were  bone chilling.

Although  the house was saved, Willard was not, and was laid to rest in the family plot at  7 months of age.

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10 Comments:

Blogger Milady de Languor said...

Old cemeteries are full of sad tales. The one in my home town has far too many little ones in it from the same era, including a couple of tiny relatives.

I've always been a bit afraid of kerosene lamps for this reason. There were several antique versions in the basement at the farm and my dad steadfastly refused to remove them from there, as he had first hand memories of a few scary incidents. If the power went out, it was candles in one room only, and he watched those like a hawk!

It's wonderful that wee Willard hasn't been forgotten. Thanks for sharing him with us.

3:32 PM  
Blogger Helen said...

I do remember being cautioned by my grandparents to 'mind the lamp' when I walked by. What a startling end to what began as an everyday tale. Nicely written ...........

8:17 PM  
Blogger Reflections said...

A tale of everyday tough days of yesteryear... only to end as so many did, with sadness of loss of life so young.

Thank you for sharing.

12:37 AM  
Blogger willow said...

Rel, this is just too sad. You know, it's amazing there weren't actually more fires back in the day...candles on Christmas trees, cooking over an open fire.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Prayer Girl said...

Life is so precious and so unpredictable. Sad. Very well written Magpie Tale.

Mine is up.

PG

7:46 PM  
Blogger Tumblewords: said...

Frightening tale - things happen so quickly -

8:06 PM  
Blogger kathi harris said...

Whoa! What a shock. I was not expecting that at all. Frightening how things can change in the twinkling of an eye.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Churlita said...

Your writing is so good, you can make tragic so readable. Good job.

4:06 PM  
Blogger kathew said...

Yikes- I could see it coming, but could not stop it.

11:36 AM  
Blogger evalinn said...

What a sad story!

7:56 AM  

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