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House on Fire: 1936

House on Fire: 1936

November 1936. "Residence on fire in Aledo, Illinois." Now where'd that bucket go? Photo by Russell Lee for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.


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Musical Payment plan

I have a Steinway upright that looks near identical to that one (from the back). The handles make it more manageable to move (even though it weighs upwards of 300lbs). According to the invoice & paperwork, my grandfather paid for it in installments over a two year period. I'm pretty sure he would have saved it from a fire as well. The woman on in front is probably telling her husband exactly what to pull out, since it seems they have some time... The bedroom furniture, linens, a couple of chairs, and their music. That's all you need...and love of course.

Piano moving

Speaking from experience, it's never easy even under the best of circumstances and this would certainly be one of the worst possible. It must have been very dear to this handsome house's residents.

Put down that piano

Why wouldn't you want to save what might very well be the most expensive item in the house that wasn't permanently attached?


If my house ever caught fire, I think the piano would be the last thing to rescue.

Controlled Burn?

None of the many bystanders look terribly concerned, especially the one standing on the porch with hands in pockets. That and the fact that a bunch of busted furniture and a piano have been removed beforehand suggest that the fire may have been set on purpose.

[It's a good thing certain people aren't fire investigators. - Dave]

Not suggesting arson but a controlled burn.
These days it is not unheard-of for a fire department to stage a controlled burn of a disused building for training purposes. Possibly unheard-of in 1936.

Small Mercies

The fire must have been slow to develop and limited in scope if there was time to extract all that furniture. One hopes that this blessing was combined with the absence of death or injury to the inhabitants. The house is not without some architectural merit as well. Perhaps a viewer from the area can tell us if it was repaired?

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