A family Zoom conference on Sunday led to an incredible discovery about my Zayde (Yiddish for grandfather) that I never knew. Turns out I have heroes blood piping through these veins.  In 1964, he jumped out of his car and saved 2 young children trapped a Schenectady fire.

My father, Harry aka Papa Codes, swears he told me about this, but there is no possible way he could have. It's not the type of thing anyone could forget. So here I am, smack dab in the middle of a 30 person Zoom hearing this incredible story about my grandfather for the first time.  I've got relatives chatting it up from all over the world and people I haven't seen in years, some that I have literally never met.  Then, out of the blue somebody belted out to my dad, 'Hey Harry, I have the newspaper clipping from that time your father (Samuel) saved those kids from a burning building!"  Reflective, my father paused and said "Oh wow...I'd like to see that."

Now keep in mind, you've got 30 of us from all over the world jumping in and out of this Zoom call, we're all stacked up on top of one another in a gallery view that literally looks like the Jewish Brady Bunch and it was the greatest thing ever.

So here's the story:  It was Thursday October 29, 1964 and according to the Daily Gazette, a fire broke out around 11am at 529  Paige Street in Schenectady.  The young children ages 4, 3, and 2  were playing with matches.

My grandfather, who lived in Albany at the time, happened to be passing by the house on his way to work when he must have seen the smoke.  I'm starting to get chills as I'm typing this because it's awesome how  without hesitation, he must have have slammed on the breaks, threw the car in park and ran into a burning building.

According to the story in the Gazette, the children's grandmother scooped up the oldest and ran across the street to call the fire department while the other two kids ages 2 and 3 were still inside the burning house.

Frantic, she must have been screaming for anyone to help her and that's where I'm guessing that my grandfather threw on his cape and went to work.  Imagine the chaos and panic as she was probably shouting instructions to my grandfather that two more children were inside.

He ran upstairs, grabbed the two youngest -  ages 2 and 3  - and brought them to safety.  A short time later, firefighters arrived and put out the blaze but not before all clothing and furniture were destroyed on the upper floor where the children were located.  Pretty awesome.

Zaybe and Bubbie with a baby Papa Codes
My Zayde and Bubbie with a baby Papa Codes

My grandfather passed away in 1969, nearly 4 years before I was even born. I would ask my dad about my Zayde when I was a kid and  my dad used to always say to me, "If your grandfather was alive, you'd never be with me and mom cuz he woulda taken you and Sherri (my sister) everywhere!"   It's funny how that has always resonated with me.  A lot of times parents just say shit and as kids we listened, but certain things stuck.  My dad always had such conviction when he spoke of his father, that I remember most of the stuff he said about him in great detail.

My dad swears he told me about the time my Zayde saved two burning kids from a house in Schenectady, but I honestly can't remember if he ever did.  At this point, it's not important.

But I do know I'll never forget what I now know about this great man thanks to a family Zoom last week.

Schenectady Gazette Fire
Article from 1964 that mentions how Brian's grandfather saved two kids from a burning house.


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