The year was 1952. Mrs. Bessie Smith of Baltimore, Maryland was at her job as cook at a local restaurant. That restaurant being located beside the local fire station. Back at her home her husband slept with their three young sons, their daughter, and another youth who was staying with them.
As Smith approached her house after her shift ended it became difficult for her to make her way down the hill to her home. The fire equipment and gathering crowd slowed her approach.
Eight months previously Bessie Smith dreamed her children had burned to death. Then seven months later she dreamed her children burned to death on the third floor of the family home. The next day there was a fire in the home which stemmed from a faulty chimney.
Her dream made such an impression as a harbinger of doom that the Smiths had all the stoves removed except for those on the first floor of their three story abode. They had the landlord make repairs on the faulty chimney.
Now, as she came home from work, she found out how true her premonitions had been.
Her husband Armond had tried to rescue the children. The youngest, their nine-month-old daughter was carried out by her father badly burned. She later died at the hospital. Brave Armond went back in after the others but never made it out. He and two of his sons were found burned to death on the third floor, the children firmly held in their father's arms.
The other son and another girl who was staying with the family managed to escape by climbing out onto the roof and being pulled to safety by a neighbor.
The cause of the fire was undetermined at the time, but fire fighters said it started on the first floor.
I read the newspaper account of this sad story and immediately thought Bessie Smith's dreams might not have been so much prophetic as the result of her legitimate fears, perhaps because of previous problems. But both dreams came before the nonfatal fire which prompted the chimney repairs and stove removals.
As one who has experienced premonitions in my own life, I have no problem with seeing this as a precognitive dream. Especially noticeable was Smith's dream having the children dying on the third floor.
The whole story is sad. And sadder still it is that the Smiths acted on the dreams and were still unable to avoid tragedy.
The newspaper account I used in writing this post can be found here.