The Fire

The Zimkin apartment served us well for two years. Charles was born at the Tarrytown Hospital, February 12, 1948, twenty-eight years and one day after me. Destiny came in the form of the village building inspector. The Zimkin building was declared unstable with the foundation sinking on one end. All tenants were given X number of months to relocate.

Again we were lucky. Joseph O'Brien also owned a small estate within the village limits. Being a retired mounted police man, he owned horses and a fine track about the size of a football field. The track was used to exercise the horses.  Joe sold his horses and converted the stables to a duplex bungalow. The simulated football field became Charles' sand pile where he built roads for his toy autos and trucks.

In the duplex apartment next door lived a playmate of Charles age. Most of the time they played well together. However, there were times when the playmate would test his bullying ability by trying to pull Charles off of his bicycle. Charles would just push him away.

An incident occured when Geraldine gave Charles a peanut butter sandwich to eat in his play area. His buddy tried to take the sandwich from him. Charles forced him to the ground and sat on him till the sandwich was finished. I feel this should be entered to reveal his character - he was not a violent person, but he was determined. Linda was born on June 10, 1952 in the Tarrytown hospital -same as Charles. It was our second year in the duplex apartment.

On a December morning in 1953 Gerry awoke to find smoke rolling into the room from the overhead light fixture. I quickly donned my pants and shoes and ran outside to find the next door apartment in flames. I called the fire department while Gerry wrapped the kids in blankets and took them to the landlords house next door. I threw a wet towel over my head and attempted to reach their bedroom.  It was impossible to enter the mass of flames. Immediate response from the fire company saved our apartment, though it was some weeks before we could move back in.

The day following the fire we were able to enter the gutted apartment to determine the cause. In the middle of the living room was a hole, the size of a sofa cushion, burnt through the floor. Bill McClaire, who rented the apartment, was a heavy drinker. He and his wife argued at a party that night and he came home alone - fell asleep on the sofa with a cigarette. When he awoke and found the cushion on fire he threw it on the floor and left - probably to drunk to realize what he did. He never appeared to apologize. In fact I never saw him again.

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