Fortunately not everyone in town was at church that night. A scattered few—those devoted non-attendees our faithful little town tolerated—had of course been at home. Some of them were volunteer firemen. They were the ones who found me in the basement the next morning.

“Somehow I didn’t break my neck falling down those stairs. The heat and the smoke of course rose and enough of the floor held and didn’t collapse on me. I ended up spending only a week over at Clifton Heights General for mild injuries and smoke inhalation. I did, however, suffer ligament damage in my knees and ankles from the fall, exacerbated because of my CP. For several weeks I got around first in a wheel chair, then with a walker.”

I sat back in the confessional booth, speechless, deeply concerned for the poor man’s soul, wondering about his sanity . . .


I distinctly remembered the burning of Tahawus Methodist Church, the summer after my senior year in high school. My father had helped o
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