Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Death Of John Shockey, Part Three

Assistant Chief Shockey, William Kemper and John Harkins were buried beneath the ruins. Barthel Wetzel, reel driver for the Vetos, was first to get at Kemper, under a pile of hot bricks and burning boards. The poor fellow's head was barely sticking out above the merciless mass that hemmed his body in and was crushing and burning his life away. Other willing hands came to Wetzel's aid, and with their assistance he pulled his brother fireman from a living tomb...

Assistant Chief Shockey had been knocked up against a post near the rear of the factory, and was also lying under some bricks. His left leg was apparently broken, as it was twisted around the post. When Brackham ran up to him and pulled some of the bricks off he saw that Shockey's heavy regulation at had been cut through with a brick. As soon as it was taken off it was found that the top of Shockey's head was cut open and his face was badly bruised.

When the reporter called at Mr. Shockey's house, No. 1711 North Eighth street, he found the Assistant Chief in his cheerful bed room on the second floor front, surrounded by Dr. Hodgen and a number of friends. His face appeared badly scorched, and there was a long gash in the top of his head. His leg had just been set and was strung up slightly above the level of his body in a sort of hammock, formed of a suitable wire frame and a cloth covering, suspended by an ingenious device from the ceiling. The patient endured all this with fortitude, and said he felt perfectly comfortable, and was betting the doctor a quarter that he was mistaken when he said such a matter as a broken thigh would keep him in his house for two or three months.

"Was Mr. Shockey comfortable enough to give the Globe-Democrat reporter a little statement concerning the fire and how he came to be hurt?"

"Of course Mr. Shockey would," piped the cheerful voice that only a couple hours before had nearly stopped forever; "in fact, nothing would please him more, but the story was very short, as his memory gave out when he heard the wall crack in the alley over his head, about twenty-five minutes after he got to the fire, as near as he could recollect."

"How did he happen to be in the alley?"

"He was there trying to get a line of hose to the varnish in the rear of the factory, but was a little slow as he didn't have enough men, and was kindly assisted by three or four citizens who were a little awkward."
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 26, 1881

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