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What comes to mind when you think of an all girls boarding home? Would you ever think of tragedy? That is what comes to my mind when I think about an all girl’s boarding school. I attended one during all of my school years. Most people think about pretty girls in pretty dresses drinking tea. I think of fire. The world’s worst fire in decades occurred here, at Vandervelt School for young ladies.
I had just arrived here, the building was still gone. But strangely it was never cleaned up. Bits and pieces of the building still remained right where they had fallen. I walked up to where the front doors used to be located. I closed my eyes and I began to vividly picture it all.
As I walked through the front doors of Vandervelt the first thing I saw was the giant gorgeous chandelier hanging on the ceiling. I loved that chandelier. Every time I was in that hall I starred at it for hours. Underneath the chandelier to the left was a beautiful wood door.
The door was a dark, shiny brown, wooden color. It was just as beautiful as the chandelier. The door knobs on the door were crystal, exactly like the chandelier. This hall that I was in was huge. We used it as the ball room. I can still feel myself dancing to the music in this room. In my dark blue magnificent dress, with the man that I love.
Now you’re probably wondering ‘why are there men there in an all girl’s school?’ He didn’t attend school there; he was a volunteered fire fighter. The fire men would have the newbie’s practice here. I have always wondered why here but it just was here, it always was. And that’s how I met him, Charlie Davis. He was the volunteered fire fighter that I would see here every day.
We weren’t really supposed to interact with them, but Charlie and I snuck it. No one found out until the end. On January 18th, 1923 Charlie snuck onto the campus. It was real late at night, almost 11:30. We went into the ball room hall. We played music quietly and danced to it. In my dark blue dress, and his black suit that fitted him very well.
We danced and danced and danced for hours without a break. Finally it came to about 5:00 A.M. and it was time for us to leave. When we walked outside we sat underneath the cherry tree in front of the main doors. We stared into the sky at the stars. He looked at me and I looked at him. He smiled, took my hands by surprise, and kissed me so gently.
Soon he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I, of course, with joyful tears in my eyes, said yes. He picked me up in a hug and twirled me around in circles. He walked me back to my room and we separated for the night. After that days had passed and I hadn’t seen him. I got worried; I thought maybe he was injured in a fire. It took about a week but he was finally back again.
Everything went on normally and happily for a long time. Then on March 3rd it happened early in the morning. We had a giant fire in the building. It started at about 6:48 A.M. and didn’t end until 2:09 P.M. So many people were hurt, including me. Few people died but not an excessive amount.
I didn’t get out of the building until 10:36 A.M. Charlie was the one to save me. He carried me through the whole building until we got outside. When he put me down he held my hands tightly and told me he loved me no matter what and he will always love me. He said to not follow him, don’t chase after him, but he had to go back into the building. He kissed me with such passion at that moment.
He turned and began to walk away and I started balling my eyes out. I couldn’t just stand there and watch. If he was going into that burning building, I was going in with him. I sprinted after him but a few girls and fire men saw me and stopped me. Screaming I tried to fight them off of me. They wouldn’t let go of me. They would let me enter that building with Charlie where I belonged.
I tried multiple times to get into that building, I was determined. Somehow they stopped me each and every time. At last I finally managed to get inside without them knowing. I got about 45 feet in and when I entered a room there he was lying unconscious on the floor. I looked up and part of the ceiling had fallen and hit Charlie, it knocked him out. I wasn’t going anywhere without him. I pulled the sheet rock off of him and attempted to pick him up.
I felt very week with all of the smoke ripping at my eyes and choking me. But I didn’t care; I was going to save Charlie. I called for help but no one could hear me over the torturous screams of others. I tried to carry Charlie, but I was weak; too weak. So I laid there with him. If he was going to die tonight, so was I.
I tried to shake him to wake him up; he wouldn’t budge. I could feel his chest moving slowly up and down. His heart beat was falling. I rested my head on his moving chest. I began to cry. As I lifted my head I looked at him and whispered in his ear “I love you.” When I buried my face into his chest sobbing I heard him say “I love you too.”
With amazement I quickly looked up to see his smiling eyes. He gave a chuckle and said “why did you follow me?” I replied urgently “because I love you and I refuse to let you leave without me.” He tried to stand up but he was week as well. Moments later we saw flash lights up and down the foggy halls. He began to scream “Help! Help! Over here! Help!”
Who ever it was had saved us. Charlie made the man take me out first, and then him. Once we were outside Charlie began coughing wildly. I got scared, I called someone for help. Lying on the grass with Charlie in my arms was my most memorable and sincere moment. At last I opened my eyes. Tears began to fill my eyes when I reminisced about that deadly fire 20 years ago in 1923.
Still standing on top of where the ashes of the front door remains I heard a man calling to me from the woods. I walked into the woods towards him. He was holding something in his hand. As I got closer I could tell what it was. It was a piece of crystal from the chandelier and that door knob that I loved so much. He handed them to me with a smile on his face. “Look at this babe.” He said to me.
“Charlie,” I spoke “Can we take these home?”