Did you happen to see that the Associated Press honored the PD’s picture-perfect Kent Porter by declaring one of his many firestorm photographs the national Photo of the Month?
The heart-melting shot has Gordon Easter and his fiancee, Gail Hale, sharing a hug and kiss upon beholding for the first time the ruins of their home in Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park.
One of Kent’s more recent photos features a message on a sheet of flame-reddened metal propped amid the ashes of another Coffey Park home. Adorned with hand prints, it reads, “SANTA PLEASE USE THE FRONT DOOR.”
We didn’t know the story behind that sign until we heard from Andre Poulsen.
Andre said his daughters, Megan and Kayla, painted that memo to Santa Claus on a recent family visit to the ruins. Actually, what they did was re-paint a message erased by the fire.
Last June, Andre replaced his home’s wood-burning fireplace with one that burns gas. The conversion involved a trip to the roof to fit the chimney with a new, metal plate. As the addition would be visible only from above, Andre invited his daughters to paint something on it.
So, six months ago, the sisters applied handprints to the metal, and the notice to Santa that the chimney was no longer accessible to him so he’d have to come in through the door.
The Poulsens’ home burned to the ground on Oct. 9. Andre shares that when his family was able to return, the girls, who’d lived all their lives in that house, spied the chimney plate, their message having burned away, “and their hearts sank.”
On a subsequent visit, the Poulsens were sifting ashes and found a can with usable paint inside. Kayla and Megan brightened at the thought of restoring the message to Santa.
Today it’s yet another sign of hope in Coffey Park.
UP AT FOUNTAINGROVE, Don and Mary Coover searched the remains of their home several times and, said Mary, “never found a single thing.”
So they scheduled a day for a crew from Environmental Logistics to come scrape and haul the debris away.
The work was underway and the Coovers were occupied elsewhere when they received a phone call. Colleen Maloney, a cleanup monitor, wanted them to know that workers Luis Arreola and James McHale had found something they might like to have.
It was a coin collection. Don had received it from his father.
He and Mary were amazed. It would have been so easy for McHale and Arreola to toss the scorched silver coins into the cab of their truck.
Instead they did right.
OAKMONT PEOPLE were evacuated and for days were fraught as firefighters battled the flames that imperiled the east Santa Rosa 55-and-oldervillage.
Oakmonters are sorry that two homes burned but they are one grateful bunch that the toll was not much, much worse.
The other day, a huge group of Oakmont residents welcomed a visit by Meg Cadiz of Redwood Credit Union. They presented her with a token of their community’s gratitude and also its concern for the many elsewhere who lost their homes or businesses were lost.