The Firehouse Light

The Firehouse Light

I happened to pick up this book at the library the other day, and it caused such excitement in our house that I thought I should share.

firehouse light

The Firehouse Light begins with a story of a fire in a small town, many years ago. The townspeople must get their hand-pulled hose carts, axes, and buckets to fight the fire out of a dark wooden shed. Then a simple four watt light bulb is donated to illuminate the shed so that they can get their equipment easier.

The years pass, and the little town grows. The little four watt light bulb is moved to a real firehouse and then a newer one. The firefighting service develops over time; volunteers are replaced by professional firefighters. The hand-pulled hose carts are replaced by horse drawn carts, and then trucks that become gradually more modern; the little town becomes a big town, and then a city.

It is reminiscent of The Little House, but the constant in the story is that four watt light bulb. It continues to glow, softly, a sentinel watching over the many firefighters through the years. One hundred years after the bulb was first lit, the city throws a birthday party for it. At that point, I finally began to wonder, oh my goodness, is this a true story!? Of course it is, as you’ve guessed by now. At the end, there is a picture of the real light bulb, at home in it’s firehouse in Livermore, CA, and the address for its own website!

I was reading to the two little ones, but Savannah, from the next room, called out to ask, is it still burning? Sam and Liss could barely contain their excitement as I pulled up the site. Indeed it is, in it’s 114th year of illumination, having burned for nearly 1,000,000 hours (the website says it will be 1,000,000 as of June this year). You can go see it now, on it’s own webcam. It appears the bulb has already outlasted several cameras, and has been recognized by Guinness and Ripley’s as the world’s oldest known working light bulb. There are some theories that may help explain how it has lasted so long, but I’ll let you explore that topic on your own.


Recent reading

I just finished The Poisonwood Bible, which has been on my to-read list for at least 10 years. I need to read more Kingsolver, I just love the way she writes. I can add The Poisonwood Bible to a couple of other books I’ve loved that have dealt with the history of the Congo in various ways, particularly Heart of Darkness and King Leopold’s Ghost. My historical education has been rather lacking in African history, which is a lack I would really like to fill.

Savannah is flying through the last third or so of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. She finished Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince a while ago but needed a bit of a break before finishing the series. I loved the Harry Potter series and I love watching her experience it as well. She thinks it’s rather funny that she’ll have read the whole series in second grade, as her school doesn’t allow kids to check the Harry Potter books out from the library until third grade.

Savannah has also read Friendship with Jesus, which is a beautifully illustrated picture book that includes children’s questions about the Eucharist, and answers by Pope Benedict XVI. It’s a perfect book for kids preparing for their First Holy Communion.

Sammy and Lissie have loved How Rocket Learned to Read. This book is adorable, and perfect for pre-readers and budding readers. Felicity at this point can recognize a few common sight words and knows letter sounds but isn’t quite at the point where she can start to sound out words she doesn’t know. This book is great for gently starting to introduce that skill. The sequel, Rocket Writes a Story, is definitely on our to-read list.