"GREAT VALUE IN DISASTER"
"If your house is on fire, warm yourself by it."
Thomas Edison's laboratory was virtually destroyed by fire in December,1941. Although the damage exceeded $2 million, the buildings were only
insured for $238,000 because they were made of concrete and thought to
be fireproof. Much of Edison's life's work went up in spectacular flames
that December night.
At the height of the fire, Edison's 24-year-old son, Charles, frantically
searched for his dad among the smoke and debris. He finally found him,
calmly watching the scene, his face glowing in the reflection, his white
hair blowing in the wind. "My heart ached for him," said
Charles. "He was
67 -- no longer a young man -- and everything was going up in flames. When
he saw me, he shouted, 'Charles, where's your mother?' When I told him I
didn't know, he said, 'Find her. Bring her here. She will never see
anything like this as long as she lives.'" The next morning, Edison looked
at the ruins and said, "There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes
are burned up. Thank God we can start anew."
Three weeks after the fire, Edison managed to
deliver his first phonograph.