A Smell You Don’t Forget

It was time for my biannual body inventory at the dermatologist this morning. I had a hunk of skin cancer hacked off my face a few years ago, so I’m supposed to go back for inspection once or twice a year.

Hinkle Young fatal fire 01-11-1967(When I showed up at the office with a huge bandage on my face back then, I answered the inevitable question by saying, “I was just sitting there minding my own business when this gang wearing masks and gloves surrounded me demanding money for drugs. Even though I paid off, they cut me anyway.” Well, it WAS true, kind of.)

After a bunch of uh-huhs and some picture taking of various and sundry body parts, he froze some places, scraped some places and sliced away at some others.

When he hit a couple of spots with a cauterizing iron, I commented, “That’s a smell I’ve never forgotten. The first fatal fire I worked was a guy who fell asleep with a cigarette smouldering in a feather bed.”

I could tell by the expression on his assistant’s face that’s not a comment she hears every day.

Just by the luck of the draw, I was scanning a queen crowning tonight when I found that fire on the same roll of film. I’m not going to provide a link to the story or any details except to say that the guy in the white jacket on the right is coroner Don Kremer. The remains of the featherbed are scattered all over the yard.

I hadn’t turned 20 yet

Hinkle Young fatal fire 01-11-1967That wasn’t the last smoking-in-bed fatal I encountered, but it’s the one I flash back to.

I just looked at the file date on the film. I hadn’t turned 20 years old yet. That’s a long time to hold onto a memory.


6 Replies to “A Smell You Don’t Forget”

  1. I remember Don Kramer, a nice guy and the county coroner.
    I was talking with John Crites the Sheriff in the 60’s about Don on my last trip to cape. Don Kremer had a “show and tell” with us on career day in High School and I remember him telling us that only the coroner could arrest a sitting sheriff in Missouri. So 50 years or so later I asked John Crites and he confirmed it.
    I always thought that ONLY the coroner had the power to do that was pretty neat!

  2. Our first home as a newly married couple was the frame house at 33 N. Henderson next to Werner’s Market.

    We were houseparents for 12 students! When I graduated, we moved to St. Louis.

    A few years later the house burned to the ground due to a fire begun on the 2nd floor by a man who had fallen asleep while smoking in bed. He had had 2 prior instances but evidently didn’t learn his lesson. Unfortunately, he died in the fire.

      1. I was born in Cape, but Mother, Dad and I moved around in a trailer from construction job site to job site all over SE MO until I started school. I went to Trinity Lutheran School K-8, then to Central High School, where I graduated in 1965. I spent two years at SEMO, then transferred to Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.

        Along the way worked for The Jackson Pioneer, The Southeast Missourian, The Ohio University Post, The Athens (OH) Messenger, The Gastonia (NC) Gazette and The Palm Beach (FL) Post. I retired from the newspaper business in 2008.

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