Today's five words are: X-ray, fire, style, fate, wire.
The teletype in the office started to chatter. Getting out from behind my WWII era heavy grey steel desk I walked over to see what the wire was spitting out.
Five alarm fire at NE corner of Broadway and Central.
As fate would have it that's my high school alma mater. Albuquerque High School. It was the oldest high school in the city built in square brick style, but the insides were wood floors and paneling. It brought back memories of Mrs. Ewing writing the themes of Lord of the Flies, The Tell Tale Heart, and reading aloud Romeo and Juliet where I was Mercutio. She was also my journalism teacher senior year.
I grabbed my trusty fedora and put on my overcoat then left the office. I only needed to walk five blocks to the blaze. I saw the flames the minute I left.
Coach Gentry is having a heart attack. The gym and basketball court are being destroyed. How many state champion basketball trophies are being melted down at this moment?
Standing across the street from the inferno at the side of First Baptist Church a crowd was gathering. It would've been much bigger during the day, but at 2:00am it was mostly bums warming up to the flames in the sub-freezing January temperatures.
I heard a crash and two cigarettes later a couple of the firemen brought one of their brothers out. I walked over as far as I could to take a look. They had the guy's helmet off and an oxygen mask on his face. Two of the firemen carried the injured one to the gurney by the ambulance. I heard one of the firemen tell the ambulance driver, "I think he broke his leg."
The driver said, "We'll find out when it's x-rayed."
I took the opportunity to grab one of the firemen's attention. "Brett Jones of the Albuquerque Journal, any idea what started the fire?"
When he turned I recognized him. Fellow AHS alum and quarterback on the football team 1952. "Hi Brett, long time no see, but I'm busy right now. Talk to the chief, I just put 'em out."