What would you save first from a house fire?

I’m very sentimental and nostalgic. I take after my Dad in that way. He was a keen photographer and when he went to meet his Maker he left behind about 30 Southend-on-Sea-20130618-00053photo albums which he had compiled with great love and dedication over many years. Photos were organised in year order and placed alongside special birthday and Christmas cards, newspaper cuttings, letters to and from loved ones, and literally anything Dad thought would be best preserved, remembered and enjoyed for many years to come. I inherited his library of albums and if there is ever a house fire (God forbid!) they will be the first things I save, after myself and loved ones naturally. They are irreplaceable and hold such wonderful memories of all the family. They tell our story. I like to think that when I’m no longer around one of my younger relatives will take great care of the albums and ensure they are passed down to future generations.

me 1975

I had occasion to look at a couple of the albums last weekend. I went in search of some photos taken of my brother and I in South Wales in 1975. In doing so I stumbled across something I’d written as an eleven year old. My Dad had copied it in his own hand writing for reasons only known to himself but he clearly credited me as the author. In fact I remember writing the original. I had gone away with the school for a week’s holiday at St Mary’s Bay, Kent. It was my first ever time away from my parents and I remember how homesick I was. I wanted to return home as soon as I arrived. I just felt like crying all of the time and no doubt many tears were shed. One day the teachers took us to Romney Marsh and I sat in some long grass with my notepad and pen and just listened, watched and scribbled my observations. Signs of a young writer in the making perhaps? What do you think?

dry grassMARSH STUDY

Where I am there is a very cool breeze. I can see a little river. There are quite a few wild flowers around me.

sheepIt is very quiet. I can hear some birds and it sounds very sweet. I can hear a very faint sound of sheep bleating.

dandelionsThere are a lot of trees surrounding me. I have just heard a frog. There are a lot of stinging nettles. I can see buttercups, dandelions and hedgerows.

frogsI have just heard the whistle of the miniature railway train. The grass feels very dry because it is very hot. It smells very fresh here. I can smell the wild flowers and trees and grass. I think I can smell the river too.

romneyrailwayThe dandelions feel very smooth and damp. The buttercups also feel smooth but as I touch it I get yellow on my fingers. The sun shines down upon the trees, and soon the sun dries up the leaves, the leaves turn brown and then fall down, and they’re laying on the ground.

© Alice Huskisson – 1975 – aged 11 years.

Dad was incredibly organised and methodical. Something else I get from him! Not only did he preserve our family’s memory in these albums, but he and Mum kept all of my school work and reports, my birthday cards, drawings and scribbles, cards I’d made for others, letters and postcards I’d sent and received, and they filed them in folders in year order. When I eventually left home they presented me with 8 folders stuffed full of incredible memories and keepsakes. After finding this piece of writing at the weekend I felt compelled to spend some time this morning looking through my folders. I was conscious of how much I was smiling as I turned pages and looked at my funny drawings, essays, stories, ranging from play school right up until my 21st birthday. Most folders concentrate on my infant and junior years.

One thing that brought a tear to my eye was a large piece of paper (then known as ‘kitchen paper’) which had been so saturated in pink poster paint that my brush had washed away the paper creating a big hole in the middle. It was a painting of nothing – just pinkness, and mutilated at that! Why would anyone want to keep it? The answer was clear. My Mum had written in the top right hand corner “Alice’s first painting at play school”. How she must have treasured it (and fire1me) to have wanted to preserve it. How could I ever part with such a beautiful collection of sentimentality? It’s just impossible. It would be like throwing away love. Wherever I live, they will always come too. I would certainly want to save these folders from a house fire.

As far as I know, my parents gave all my siblings a similar collection of folders containing their own very personal memories and childhood treasures. I do hope they have all kept them and still enjoy them from time to time.

What would you save from a house fire, other than yourself and your loved ones?

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10 thoughts on “What would you save first from a house fire?

  1. Very nice post! I’ve always said that my photograph albums are my most precious things, too – I have 34 volumes, dating from 1976 to 2007. Apart from that I think I’d run out with my laptop under my arm!

    • Oooh yes, the laptop! Good one! 🙂

      Strangely, whilst I have photo albums I’ve compiled myself since I was 18, they are not as precious to me as those my Dad made. I almost feel a duty to take care of my Dad’s albums – they are so special to the whole family.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting again Terry 🙂 Lovely to see you here! X

  2. Very interesting Alice, especially your early experiences of Romney Marsh. I’d save my cats of course, then my box of genealogy research and old photos. REminds me of news I noticed on AOL today – a couple in America were on holiday, saw the TV news of a fire in their neigbourhood and had to watch their own house burn down! How awful for them, an absolute nightmare.

    • It doesn’t bear thinking about; those poor people. 😦 I just pray none of us ever suffer a house fire.

      Didn’t know you’re in to genealogy. My brother is the same and has found out so much about our ancestors. It’s all fascinating stuff. X

    • Yes, we’re very lucky to have the albums and folders. I’ve not heard of another family who has such an extensive collection. I’m sure there are some around but I think they must be few and far between.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting Melissa 🙂 great to hear from you. X

  3. This is a lovely post Alice, lots of precious memories. I think I would save my photos too but also, because I’m really practical, I would grab the passports, cheque books, birth certificates etc. – it would be such a hassle to have to start replacing all those things.

    • Yes, I hadn’t thought of those practical things. You’re so right, what a hassle to replace those. However, they *can* be replaced whereas photos of a great age cannot.

      Glad you enjoyed this post Diane. Thanks for commenting again. I love comments! 🙂 X

  4. I really enjoyed your post Alice and how lucky you are to have such treasures. I am pretty much good to go in case of fire as I don’t have any family treasures. I suppose because when I was younger I moved around a lot I tended not to accumulate anything which is a shame. It really moved me that your parents made little folders for you and your siblings, it’s such a lovely thing to do 🙂

    • EL, how sad that you have no childhood treasures. 😦 I think I am a very lucky lady. It’s amazing the memories that are recalled just by picking up an old drawing or piece of writing; things that would otherwise be forgotten.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I love it when people return to my blog for more helpings! X

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