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My three siblings and I were in that fire. It was a free Christmas matinee paid for by the local merchants, enabling parents to drop off their kids at the movie while they shopped. I was four. My sister had taken my brother and I to the balcony, relieved us of our winter gear-gloves, coats, boots-and gone back down to the lobby for treats. The curtain on the left hand side of the screen went up in flames, and at four, I thought it was part of the opening cartoon. Within a very short time, the theater was full of smoke. The firemen arrived very quickly and I remember being picked up and being tossed from fireman to fireman. At the edge of the balcony, the fireman said, “Okay Honey, I’m going to drop you, but someone’s going to catch you and he threw me over the rail. Someone caught me. Now the flames were raging in the ceiling.
The theater was on the ground in 30 minutes. One fireman ended up in the hospital, but they were incredible that day. They said it was because the theater was full of kids and had all had fire drills at school they did not panic but followed directions and left the theater as the firemen directed, that no one died. I was one of the first kids out, my sister was one of the last, because she tried to get back to us. I am an old woman now, and I remember that day like it was yesterday.