... and I have finally heard "the rest of the story"! No particular reason for sharing this little tidbit other than that it's such a weird thing to have happen and it just blew me away! I don't know why it has affected me so much but it really did! This goes all the way back to when I was in kindergarten, folks! Did anything significant ever happen to you back when you were very, very young ... but you just got the sanitized minimal "kids version" and it was never spoken of again? And after a while you begin to wonder whether it really did happen or maybe you just dreamed it or something? This is going waaaay back! When I was a kid we lived in a suburb of St. Louis, an area where my grandfather's family had lived since before the Civil War and who had run many of the first businesses in the area. I started kindergarten when I was five at a school a few blocks from our house. I was really shy but I finally made friends with an equally shy, sweet little blonde girl named Barbara. She was the first real "friend" I ever had who wasn't one of my whole herd of cousins. I remember my mother feeling so sorry for Barbara's mother because Barbara's older brother had gotten polio and couldn't walk. They didn't have a wheelchair for him and this poor woman had to carry this boy everywhere they went and he was at least seven or eight at the time! There was also a teenage sister that I had never seen. And then one day Barbara wasn't in school, and she wasn't in school the next day either. And on the third day, I still remember the teachers exact words when she told us... she said, "There was a fire at Barbara's house and she died. But if we talk about it we'll all be very sad so we just won't talk about it"! And that was it! She was never spoken of again, just like she had never existed. About a week later a teenage girl that we assumed was her older sister came to the kindergarten room and asked the teacher if she still had any of Barbara's school papers that she could have as a keepsake but they had all been sent home with her right before the fire. We kids never talked about it among ourselves because we thought we weren't supposed to. We were too young to read the papers and our parents never spoke of it. I'm sure the teacher was heartbroken herself, and if this happened now it would be handled much differently, but this was sixty years ago. So we never knew what really happened other than "there was a fire and she died". She was my first friend and the first person I had ever known that died. I remember being terrified that our house would catch on fire and we'd all die too. And I have always remembered that sweet little blonde girl who was my very first real friend. OK, so fast-forward sixty years! My cousin Judy is a member of the historical society for that area and together with another member, they wrote a book on the history of the town, the early settlers, businesses, etc. Judy did all the editing and supplied a lot of the pictures. I pre-ordered a copy of the book and it arrived about two weeks ago, a beautiful hardback book full of pictures of all the places we knew as kids, a real treasure to anyone who was raised there. It has sections on the schools, businesses, churches, civic organizations and the police and fire departments. And in the chapter about the fire department... there was a whole section about the fire at Barbara's house, complete with newspaper clippings! And after sixty years I finally got "the rest of the story" that I was never told as a child! I was just flabergasted - after all these years! I hadn't just dreamed it! According to the newspaper article, it was in January of that year and apparently the father had done a do-it-yourself job on the wiring in the second story of their house where the bedrooms were to put in heating up there. The fire started in the second floor ceiling. Both parents died trying to save the two girls - I had never known that the parents died too! The older sister managed to jump out a window and was injured but alive and neighbors were able to rescue the paralyzed brother who slept downstairs. Barbara was severely burned and died two days later in the hospital. It was very significant to the area because after this fire, they completely changed the way they handled ambulance services and which fire stations responded to which areas. They re-did all their procedures because of this fire. When my cousin Judy had sent me the book, she enclosed a note asking that if I spotted any errors to let her know so they could change it in future editions. The section on the fire stated that it had happened in '53 and if I was in kindergarten then, it had to be '52, right before my sixth birthday. So I emailed Judy and told her, and also told her how I had known this little girl, that she had been in my class, how she had been my first friend, how we played together, etc. Judy forwarded my email to her co-author, and this lady actually knows the man who was Barbara's older brother, the one who had polio as a child! The older sister died years ago but the brother is still around! This lady forwarded parts of my email to him and he responded and Judy forwarded his response on to me! He thanked her profusely for forwarding my email to him and said that he was moved to tears to find out that someone still had fond memories of his little sister and still remembered her well after she had been gone for all these years! He said that he had adored his baby sister and he still misses her, even sixty years after she died! This all just blows me away, like coming full circle and solving a sixty year old mystery! I have his email address, Judy thinks I should email him, but I'll have to think about it. Anyway, this is all pretty much about nothing but I just wanted to share ...it's just such a weird thing to have happen, almost like going back in time!