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     At 3 a.m. on a freezing night in January 1970, a fire caused by an electric heater completely destroyed a deteriorating, rat-infested tenement building on Washington Avenue in the East Bronx. All the tenants were taken to the Concourse Plaza Hotel to await placement by The New York City Department of Relocation.

     I lived on Washington Avenue more than seventy-five years ago. In recent years I’ve been having a recurrent dream about a fire in the building that was once my home. All that was left was the charred frame of that brick tenement building.
I’ve been keeping a journal for many years in which I report not just my waking life, but my dream life as well. Here’s what I recorded on August 12, 1985: “This day follows a long night of unhappy dreams. One dream concerns a fire in the home where I used to live. The smoke, which originated prior to the dream, came from a dumbwaiter-like opening in one of the rooms.

     “The dream began when a young woman, whom I seemingly knew, told me she had sprayed a free-flowing liquid down the shaft, which she thought had extinguished the source of a perpetual fire. At first there was a small amount of smoke coming from the opening. However, the smoke grew thicker and soon flames were escaping from the shaft. For some reason, we couldn’t contact the fire department. My dream ended with the fire slowly growing.”

     Now, daydreaming, I gaze into the enveloping flames and remember Mama and Daddy and a past in the East Bronx, so distant that it seems to have occurred to a different person in a former lifetime.

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