Our friend’s home was badly damaged by fire last Sunday morning.
No one was hurt. The dog escaped the fire too. Thank goodness.
Monday morning I stopped by the house to offer our family’s support to their family. The damage looked terrible from the outside. I wondered what they would find when the workmen entered the inside of the home.
On Tuesday morning I was working in the office. My girlfriend Emailed me to please go to their home and help oversee the workmen. The wife was out-of-town on urgent business. The husband and daughters were at the home. The husband had so many papers to sort out; plus endless calls and meetings relating to the fire.
When arrived I found things running as smoothly as possible after a disaster. The workers were doing a great job. They really did not need my services. I decided to focus on some small aspect in the home. I decided to save the wife’s cookery books and attend to the antique family linens from Eastern Europe. Part of the team of workers were the “Dry
Cleaning “ team. The husband and I talked with the team and then the husband was able to give special instructions regarding the family linens. With that matter sorted
I focused on the book shelf in the kitchen. There was an assortment of
books printed in the USA, Hungary, Poland, Germany etc. After studying the books it was evident that I couldn’t save them all. So I focused on the foreign and handwritten
books. I thought these would be very sentimental and irreplaceable. Unfortunately these books received the most water damage. My preservation
work began in earnest. My fine arts studies aided in how to handle the paper safely. (My professors would be so happy that I retained and was using some of the knowledge they worked to give me.)
I first sorted them as to amount of damage. Then I sorted them as to type of paper and whether they were hard cover or soft cover. I then thought “I have to dry each page”. So I began trying to dry the first book by fanning each page. I soon realized that
this would be fruitless and impossible to complete with success. I then decided to use my common sense. I remember thinking to myself, “you were a Girl Scout, think…….then it dawned on me, THE SUN”. So I searched the garden for clean tables and chairs. I found two chase lounges that were clean. I rolled them to the sun, set the books upright and fanned open. I changed the page positions about every twenty minutes for the rest of
By evening most books were still not dry. I then took them to my home and began the
fanning process again. Special attention was given to the hand written book. Early in the marriage the wife had sat with elder members of the family and wrote down the family recipes from both sides of the family.
Five days later all but one book was dry. They look a bit wrinkly and swollen. The last book is still a little damp, but given time it will be dry. The cookery books are in relatively good condition with what has been their fate. The family cookery books are saved and ready to be used by the generations to come.
I helped in the best way I knew how. I focused on a couple of areas that were precious and sentimental. All the rest – couches, blenders, TVs, clothing, sports equipment, cars, lamps etc., etc., etc., etc., etc. can be replaced.
I hope that my small assistance as a neighbor can give some consolation to all they are facing with the severe damage to their family home.
It has been a week since the fire. The family’s outlook is so positive. They believe that good will come out of this tragedy. They say they are moving forward. Their courage is to be admired. The friends have all offered support and wish them the best of luck. I think the friendships will be strengthened. That is certainly a good and positive thing that is happening. I guess the family is right – good will come out of this tragedy.