Wednesday, October 19, 2011


(Fireplug - a hydrant for a fire hose. The fireplug mentioned in this post was attached to a building - O.P. Hare Drug Store in Petersburg, Virginia.)

Year: 1970

"I can't," I said to my mother.
"Why can't you? Your daddy is picking us up in a few minutes! Now, c'mon here, boy! I'm not gonna tell you again!" Mom demanded as she waited for her husband to arrive in either direction from the street corner.

My teenage sister, Belinda (a.k.a. Blenda) was crying in agony from her visit to the dentist office. Mom and I had just accompanied Blenda to her dreaded appointment.

Displaying my best puppy dog eyes, I repeated, "I can't," as the warm, summer breeze rushed over us.
"Why?!" Mom shouted as she continued to wait for Daddy to arrive.
"Umm, I'm stuck," I replied with great hesitation.
Screaming aloud, Blenda said, "Momma! Charles C. got his fingers stuck in the fireplug!" as she began to cry.
"What?" Mom asked as she finally turned her attention to her young son. "What have you done?!"
"I got my fingers stuck in this fireplug," I replied with crocodile tears.
"Why did you do that?" she asked, bending over to inspect my latest predicament.
"I got bored waiting for Daddy to pick us up, and Blenda was doing all that crying from the dentist."
Releasing a heavy sigh, Mom said, "Belinda, go inside the drug store and call the fire department to come help your brother."
"Okay," she replied through teary eyes. "Crazy boy!" Blenda offered.

A few moments later, men who were shooting pool next door came to offer me some assistance. A few of them pulled and tugged at me as the fireplug increased its grip on my young fingers. "Ouch! Stop it!" I yelled as we began to hear sirens in the background. Blenda's crying became heavier. (Today, she claims that she was in pain from the dentist appointment. But, I think she was worried about her baby brother.)

Speeding red fire trucks carrying firemen dressed in full uniform parked in front of the drug store. The firemen ran toward the building and me with axes in hand along with two dozen curious spectators.

Screaming at the top of her voice with tears flying everywhere, Blenda shouted, "They're going to chop his arm off! Oh, no! Charles C. ain't gonna have no arm!"
"For real, Momma?!" I asked in a state of terror.
"No," she replied with grace and assurance. "Oh God, I hope not," Mom thought to herself.

After several minutes of  poking and prying, my fingers were finally free. We thanked the firemen for helping me as they tried to refrain from laughing aloud.

Daddy finally arrived and asked from the driver's side of the car, "What happened?" as he noticed the fire trucks, firemen and mobs of people.
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," Mom replied. Pointing to the drug store and taking her place in the green Chrysler, she continued, "Charles C. got his fingers stuck in that fireplug over there."

Now, anxious to learn my fate, I asked Mom and Daddy from the back seat, "Am I on punishment?"
"You ought to be," Blenda replied. "You crazy thang! All of those people were looking at us!
Interrupting, Daddy replied, "No."
Mom offered, "Getting your fingers stuck in that fireplug; and the firemen coming after you with axes is more than punishment enough - not to mention the pure embarrassment of it all."

So, later when my grandfather, Papa, learned of this story; he laughed and coughed, as usual. His new nickname for me changed from "Head Doctor" to "Fireplug." Sometimes, Papa used those nicknames interchangeably - much to my amusement.

Fast-forward years later - All of the fireplugs in the city are now well-secured.

Until next week - Keep praising His Name,
Sir Charles

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