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Just a nice story about some people who aren’t corrupt politicians or greedy bankers

I read this story in The Boston Globe this morning, and it renewed my faith in humanity. I couldn’t resist sharing it with my fellow Conflucians.

The firefighter crawled on his stomach through the pitch-black apartment, the smoke so thick he couldn’t see his hand in front of his face. Somewhere inside was a baby and he had to find her.

A window broke, light filled the room, and he saw her lying in her crib, dressed only in a diaper, unconscious. Soot covered her tiny nose. She wasn’t breathing and had no pulse.

He grabbed her and breathed life into her as he ran from the apartment.

A newspaper photograph captured their image – a white firefighter from South Boston with his lips pressed to the mouth of a black baby from the Roxbury public housing development – at a time when riots sparked by racial tensions were burning down American cities.

These two Bostonians–a tiny baby and the firefighter who saved her life–never met again until yesterday.

In the neighborhood where they first met, Carroll, a slim 71-year-old, got out of his car, dressed in a navy blue uniform he had borrowed from a fellow firefighter, strode up to the 40-year-old woman, and beamed.

You can watch their reunion on video here.

No one could remember exactly what started the fire on Nov. 7, 1968, but Greer said it began in the family’s kitchen. Carroll, who was assigned to Engine 3, heard the report of children trapped in a burning building.

When Carroll arrived, Greer was at the scene, screaming and crying hysterically.

Carroll saved Evangeline, while Firefighter Charles Connolly rescued her 17-month-old brother, Gerry, and handed him to Lieutenant Joseph O’Donnell, who gave the boy mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

“He just cared,” Greer, now 60, said of Carroll. “It wasn’t that the child was black or she was white. It was a child and he was trying his best to bring her back her life.”

Sadly, Evangeline’s brother died of pneumonia and her mother turned to drugs and soon died of an overdose. Evangeline became a nursing and teaching assistant and now has six children. She brought her youngest boy Reginald with her when she went to meet Carroll.

Carroll then took the group for lunch at Florian Hall, the union’s headquarters, where Carroll still goes every week for coffee with friends or to help fellow retirees with healthcare questions. Over sandwiches, the group looked at old black-and-white photos of that day and traded stories about the challenges of raising children.

Carroll bonded with Anderson’s son, who drew a picture of himself holding Carroll’s hand.

Parting in the parking lot, Carroll hugged Greer and Anderson and told Reginald to call him.

“There’s your new grandpa,” Anderson said to her son.

“What a beautiful day,” the retired firefighter said as he turned and walked back inside.

What a beautiful story, and what nice people.

24 Responses

  1. Now you gone and made Captain Spaulding cry.

  2. Awwww. But isn’t that a nice story? I loved it.

  3. The world is filled with nice people. I will never in a million years understand why the hate filled ones (people like O reilly)seem to get the podium more often than the nice ones. It’s a great story bb.

  4. Really touching. How wonderful that they were able to meet again.

  5. I used to tell my children to try to do one nice thing every day for another person.

    What a beautiful story.

  6. It must have been satifying for Carroll to see the fruits of his labor(a mother with 6 beautiful children, nursing and teaching assistant) and felt the gratitude this woman has for what he did.

  7. I think being responsible for saving someone’s life and then seeing what became of that person, has to be a lot more rewarding than stealing billions in taxpayer money so you can have another house or car or vacation. I’d rather be poor for the rest of my life than be like one of the bankers or politicans who are sucking our country dry.

  8. BB

    Right there with you. I won’t sell my soul to be a little more comfortable in the here and now.

    The really awful thing is we are not talking about A car and A house in most of these cases we are talking many cars, many houses, jets, vacations…..I mean geez how much does one person take and take before he/she recognizes that perhaps someone else deserves something too.

  9. Fireman deserve a special place in heaven. They go where others fear to go.
    this was on a website today
    They make the world a better place and should always be respected.
    Our best man when I got married was a Phila fireman and even with all the teasing about washing his car on our taxes we loved and respected him always



  10. bostonboomer: Thanks for this post.

  11. You’re welcome, Jules. I’m glad you liked it.

  12. Sorry
    I typed the address exactly as it showed. But the video is on maniacworld.com and gives a good feeling to watch.



  13. It is a nice story, BB. I remember reading about r*ce relations in Boston in the late sixties, and, like in my hometown, Chicago, most of it wasn’t good. Wasn’t busing still a big issue back then? Anyway, that these two human beings were given an opportunity by Fate to transcend the petty, arbitrary, artificial roadblocks we build between us in a vain attempt to pump up our egos without effort or accomplishment, and they took it, twice, is heartwarming and special.
    Thank you for sharing it with us.

  14. Cinie,

    Busing started in the ’70s. I really didn’t think the race angle in the story was that important, but in ’68 I guess it was. That summer MLK was murdered and there were cities burning all over the country.

  15. It’s like that old saying: Heaven is hell with seven good people; hell is heaven with seven fools. Nice to be reminded. Thanks, bb!

  16. Thanks BB! Great post. I love hearing about happy things during these dark times.

  17. wow, beautiful story, bostomboomer. Just finished Evil Genes by Barbara Oakley, which I first heard of on this site, and can REALLY appreciate the significance of your post. thanks.

  18. Here’s Gregg’s statement. How can he say he thinks the country will “greatly benefit from Obama’s leadership at this time,” if he is withdrawing because he disagrees with his direction?

    Senator Gregg Statement on His Withdrawal for Consideration of U.S. Commerce Secretary

    Sen. Gregg stated, “I want to thank the President for nominating me to serve in his Cabinet as Secretary of Commerce. This was a great honor, and I had felt that I could bring some views and ideas that would assist him in governing during this difficult time. I especially admire his willingness to reach across the aisle.

    “However, it has become apparent during this process that this will not work for me as I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the Census there are irresolvable conflicts for me. Prior to accepting this post, we had discussed these and other potential differences, but unfortunately we did not adequately focus on these concerns. We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy.

    “Obviously the President requires a team that is fully supportive of all his initiatives.

    “I greatly admire President Obama and know our country will benefit from his leadership, but at this time I must withdraw my name from consideration for this position.

    “As we move forward, I expect there will be many issues and initiatives where I can and will work to assure the success of the President’s proposals. This will certainly be a goal of mine.

    “Kathy and I also want to specifically thank Governor Lynch and Bonnie Newman for their friendship and assistance during this period. In addition we wish to thank all the people, especially in New Hampshire, who have been so kind and generous in their supportive comments.

    “As a further matter of clarification, nothing about the vetting process played any role in this decision. I will continue to represent the people of New Hampshire in the United States Senate.”

  19. oops, wrong thread…sorry.

  20. Here’s what I wrote back to the author of the article:

    40 years’ worth of thanks.

    The world needs hundreds or thousands more stories like that being covered right now, to help bring hope, trust, and belief in each other back. To begin creating or at least imagining a society that’s based on these acts, not the terror coverage we see overwhelmingly each day. The more you show incidents like this, the more people will rise up to that occasion.

    Thank you so much. I’m so thirsty for stories like this, because without them, I feel more and more hopeless. And in my heart I think there are so many more like these out there. They’re just not being covered, either by pressured journalists, or by editors who dismiss them as they don’t meet the current overall agenda.

    Well, the current journalistic agenda seems to be one that will take all of us down in doom and gloom. So thank you again for this story, and pass this email along to as many fellow journalist friends as you can.

    Something has to change, and soon. This may be a way to help.

    Gabriele Droz

  21. And thank you for the story, Bostomboomer. A light just went on in my brain as to what I need to focus on and distribute.

  22. Great comment, Gabriele.

  23. My cousin is an EMS Battalion Captain in East Los Angeles. The stories he tells of rescues over the many years he’s been a paramedic/firefighter never cease to amaze me – the courage and selflessness displayed by firefighters is truly an inspiration. They are the real heroes!

    Too bad the crooks in our government don’t possess even one speck of that same courage and selflessness.

  24. Thank you for this wonderful story. If only we could tell such stories every minute, every hour, every day of our lives…things would be different. It reminds me of what I read about someone who was introduced to Hillary and when her child was ill at the hospital, all of a sudden flowers and a get well card appeared. HIllary did not forget to remember. Apparently her sister had worked in Hillary’s office a long time ago–but Hillary kept tabs….amazing humanity.

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