The Burlington Hawk-Eye
The Hawk Eye
A Strange Way to Celebrate!
February 27, 1977
I'm well aware that many of you are tired of reading about what our Dallas City correspondent, E.P. Cassidy, so aptly described as the most publicized fire since Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicked the lantern over. To you I can only say, turn immediately now to the comics, or the want ads.
The insurance men tell me they've been pleased with the reports. It has done wonders for selling increased coverage. And, anyway, I have another story I have to tell because it is a matter of giving credit where credit is due.
I reported last month that when I saw the President the Sunday after inauguration, he greeted me with the question: "Did you get my note?" and when, mystified, I said no, "Where are you living?" When I still looked puzzled, he added, "I wrote as soon as I heard about the fire."
I had to move on in the reception line, so I left town still wondering how on earth the President had heard about our house burning down. We certainly hadn't thought to intrude on his transition days with the details.
It is the kind of mystery that haunts a reporter, but I was too busy for a month to pursue it.
Then last week we saw him again and he was still on the subject, asking again about where we were living, and giving his other guests details about the fire. Now I had to find the answer, and with a little luck, I did.
It starts with a Hawk Eye reader, Mrs. Adolph Peterson of 817-1/2 Summer. Mrs. Peterson regularly sends clippings from the Hawk Eye to her daughter and son-in-law, Mr. And Mrs. Derby Thompson Jr. of Roswell, Georgia. Since she knew that Derby and I are old friends, she sent him the stories about our Christmas Eve fire.
Derby, who operated Acres-Blackmar Printing here, now represents an old-line St. Louis printing firm in South Georgia. His job takes him regularly through Plains.
So one day early in January he bundled up the clippings and dropped them off with the woman who runs the desk in the Plains train station, which served as Carter headquarters. It happened that the woman recognized me, so she delivered them to the Carter home and the President-elect and Mrs. Carter read them.
And he did write that note. I had been mystified because it had been mislaid in the moving from Plains to Washington and delivery was delayed.
The note was not to me. It was to Peggy's 80-year-old mother who lives with us, and who had gotten our two youngest children out of the burning house that morning. Handwritten, it says:
"To Mrs. Carolyn Wichert c/o Hawk Eye Editor: I read about your brave action in helping to save one of my favorite families during their Christmas fire party. John certainly has a strange way to celebrate! I'm not surprised at your neighbors' hospitality. It's typical of the Iowans I know. With love, Jimmy Carter."
The other welcome mail we've received on the two-month anniversary of the fire was a check for the full amount of our coverage on the house, in case you are wondering about insurance companies.
Sorry, E.P. If things will just quit happening, I'll quit writing about them.
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