A BOY IS BORN UNDER DIFFICULTIES
by Charles F. Sullivan
About the middle of June, 1943, Mr. Robert Denman, living at 113 Holt Street, came into Newcom Tavern while I was curator and when I showed him the high water mark of the 1913 flood, he said that he was born during the flood so he was just thirty years of age. Later I realized that here was some history that should be preserved, so I went to his home to talk to him.
He was the principal actor in this affair, but his memory of it was very deficient for obvious reasons, so I went to his parent’s home at 217 Edgewood where I received the following account from his father and mother.
At that time, they lived at 32 N. Sprague Street and he, Mr. Denman, Sr., worked in the Callahan Power building in the rear of the present Third National Bank Building on Main Street. He was just starting for work about 6 A.M. when the water began coming over the levee at the north end of their street, and this changed his plans completely. He hurried his family upstairs with supplies and all the furniture he was able to move before the water drove him upstairs. The water was rising rapidly and for fear it might get upstairs, he broke a hole into the attic and moved the family there, where they stayed all that day and night.
During the day, a fire started in a house on Third Street, but nothing could be done about it but let it and several other houses burn to the water’s edge. Also a woman was driven to the roof of a house close by. A man in a boat saw her and with great difficulty and danger, was able to get her into the boat and probably to a place of safety. Mr. Denman stayed upon the second floor, watching the water rise. When asked by the family if the water was rising, he answered that it was about the same.
It kept rising all day and until 3 A.M. the next morning when it began to fall. The down stair ceilings were 9 feet high and it lacked only one inch of coming into the second floor.
All this excitement hurried the evidence that a new life was to be born soon, so Mrs. Denman came down from the attic to the second floor and was made as comfortable as circumstances would allow. Soon Robert was born, with no heat in the house and other comforts were scarce. The lower floor was full of water but none fit to drink or use for bathing purposes.
Thursday the water was down so that a boat could be sent to them. The entire family was taken west on Third Street to the Malleable Iron Works, where Mrs. Denman and the baby were sent to the Soldiers Home hospital where they stayed for several weeks under the care of Dr. Robert.
Mr. Denman stayed until he found a place for the family. Then since there were no street cars in use, or other transportation, he walked to the Soldiers Home to see that the mother and baby were being well cared for there and then back to Dayton View.
After thirty years Mrs. Denman is still going strong with children and grand children constantly around her.
Robert looks fine and does not seem to have suffered from the difficulties he encountered at his birth. He is married and has a small son. This was a difficult situation and they had to make the best of it, using what comforts they could get, and be thankful it was no worse.
Chas. F. Sullivan January 13, 1944
114 E. Idaho St. Apt. C