. . . A Fire Reporter
Back in 1928 in New England the old wooden two-story schoolhouse I was attending caught fire on a Monday afternoon and burned down.
ALL the way down , with its big rooftop bell ringing until it landed in the basement as the building collapsed, floor by floor.
A few years later I became interested in chasing fire trucks when I heard them but not very often did I find out where they were going or what happened.
Most of the time the local newspaper never had a story about any of the fires that I had known were happening because I saw fire trucks racing somewhere with sirens blaring and red lights flashing.
One day I managed to follow Engine 4 to a big house fire. I found out the name of the owner of the house and his address and how the fire started and how long it took to put it out.
I telephoned the newspaper and a man named Ed took down the information and the next day there was a little story in the paper about the fire, probably after Ed had checked out what I had told him.
Then later I got a few more fire stories and phoned them in and they were printed. Then one day Ed said he would pay me for my work and he did, about ten cents every time and he called me a stringer.
Later on he used the words cub reporter and still later he even put my name on top of a fire story- it was what he called a byline. He paid me more pennies.
One day when I was riding the high-seat bicycle I had bought for $5 so I could chase the fire trucks faster, I got hit and knocked down and against a parked car by one of the fire trucks.
That story was written by one of the regular reporters, using my whole name, age and address. The story said "Fire Reporter Hit by Fire Engine." Now people knew me as a fire reporter, the Whittenton fire reporter.
Time went by and fire reporting somehow was in my blood. My uncle, a cop, and Mother's cousin, a fireman, said that the germ got into my blood when my school burned down.
Then came World War II . I had a mailroom job then at the newspaper and because there were no regular reporters around the Sunday Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese air force - but I was - I got put to work collecting and writing stories about seervemen in the war zone.
Bill Reed, the newspaper's editor, announced in a story the next day that I had been hired as a full time reporter. After that the subjects of the stories I wrote were varied, just not fires.
It was soon afterward that I had to go into the army. I was away in England for three years. When I returned I got back the job as a reporter on the local newspaper .
From that day on I wrote about a lot of fires , accidents, murders and court trials from 1947 on and through six states and eight newspapers to 1985 when I retired as a newsman and editor.
Guess that qualifies me for this month's theme of "Growing Up."
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