Ah, College

Iowa State University

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After seeing that photo of the fire in Chicago, I thought you might like this picture of my fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta, at Iowa State University, Ames, IA. We had a fire in the middle of a blizzard on January 16, 1982, my roommate’s birthday. The wind chill factor was near -100F. The ice-free spot by the upper window was where a fire truck snorkel had frozen to the house. They had to bring a crane to lift it off.

We were allowed inside after three days. Water was frozen in ripples to the walls and stairways, like something out of Fantasia.  Half the roof was burned off, including the section where my room was. There was one wisp of smoke left rising, coming from what was left of my room. When I entered, I saw it was my record collection, still smoldering. As I stood in disbelief, a firefighter pushed by me and stomped it out.

This photo hit the wires and we got copies of newspapers with this photo from all around the world. I don’t think I will ever have another experience as thoroughly surreal as those few days.