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Dan M grew up in WI in a family oriented neighborhood in the city. He remembers playing with his five other siblings and swimming at the public pool during the summer. At eight-years-old, however, tragedy entered his life for the first time.
As Dan goes on to talk about his childhood, he explains his siblings and him spent the summers playing in the park near their father’s factory job. He had a daily routine to meet his father, Frank, on his way home from work and beg for the change in his pocket. Frank gave him the change and Dan would go to the candy shop and immediately spend the money on treats.
One regular morning, Dan and his two siblings, Patty and John, were walking home from the pool. As they passed their father’s factory, like they did everyday, they noticed something different.
“We just walked by, not really grasping what was going on,” says Dan recalling the memory of passing the scene.
Dan describes seeing ambulances, fire trucks, police cars, and factory workers outside. He illustrates the workers as “depressed and filthy.” He describes the entire situation as “surreal” and “very weird.”
As Dan and his siblings walked through the door of their home that day, they saw their mother sitting at the kitchen table. She explained to the children that their father had been in an explosion at the factory and that they would have to stay with their close family friends for the time being.
Dan and his siblings stayed at the close family friends’ house for 10 days, unaware of what was happening. One morning, however, changed Dan’s life.
He talks about how he woke up, randomly, at 5:00 a.m. and heard the friends he was staying with listening to the radio.
“I just woke up out of bed one morning and heard the report about my dad on the radio,” Dan recalls. “That’s how I found out my dad was dead.”
After 10 days, Dan and his siblings finally went home to their broken mother. Frank had suffered from third degree burns causing his body to become deformed and disfigured. Dan explains his mother, Dorothy, did not want the children to see him like that.
Dan says that his mother made it a point to tell him that she begged Frank to not die and leave her.
He responded, “I can’t die. Then how will little Danny get his nickels?”
Since the children could not see him in the hospital before he passed, Dan recalls his last memory of his father.
“My last memory was running to him to get my nickels, and that morning he went to work and that was the last time I ever saw him again.”