Homeless Man Living in Abandoned Old Fire Truck for 17 Years Finds Grandfather’s Notebook Inside – Story of the Day
A homeless man finds his grandfather's diary in the derelict fire truck in which he is living and it changes his life and opens up a bright new future he'd only dreamed of.
Drake Jacobs was tired and he had nowhere to sleep. His usual spot in a sheltered alley had been taken over by Bad Mike and his friends, and Drake wasn't going to go up against Bad Mike again.
The last time, he'd ended up in the E.R. with a broken arm and a ruptured spleen so he guessed he'd have to find somewhere to sleep for the night, somewhere safe, somewhere warm. There was only one place he could go to —the old yard behind the fire station.
So many of his childhood memories revolved around the firehouse and the yard with the old derelict trucks parked there in silent magnificence: retired knights in the fight against fire.
He'd grown up there. He would run to the firehouse every day after school; it had been home as much as his grandfather's third-floor walk-up had been. Drake had dreamed that one day he too would be a fireman just like his grandpa.
But when Drake was seventeen, his grandfather passed away. The strongest man Drake had ever known died when his heart simply gave out. His grandfather had been raising Drake since he was three years old, which was when his parents had abandoned him.
Dreams do come true, and usually in the most unexpected way.
Drake's grandmother was long dead, but Ed Jacobs had raised his son's child alone and done it with love and care. After his grandpa's death, Drake thought he'd stay in the apartment, and his counselor at school had helped him with the application for a scholarship as soon as he finished high school.
He was six months away from graduation when someone knocked on the door on a Saturday night. He opened it and there stood his father and his mother. They had heard about his grandfather's death and like vultures, they came calling.
His father pushed past Drake and started looking around the apartment. "Man, it's small," he called over his shoulder to Denise, Drake's mom. "But he owned it free and clear, and this ain't the Upper East SIde but it IS Manhattan..."
Denise smiled. "We should get a pretty penny out of this..." she crowed.
"What for?" asked Drake angrily. "So you can shoot it up your arm? I know what you are! You two are scum! This is MY grandpa's house and you have no right!"
"I have every right!" screamed Drake's dad, pushing him towards the door. "It's mine now, and you GET OUT!" Before Drake could answer, his father had him standing out in the hallway. He was homeless and with nothing but the clothes on his back.
At first, his grandpa's firefighter buddies tried to help him, but they all had families to raise, and taking in another mouth to feed was more than they could afford. He had to drop out of high school, and college was a distant dream.
Drake had gone from one low-paying dead-end job to another, and sometimes he had to beg on the streets. After a while, it became his life. The only life he knew, the only life he could hope for.
Over the next seventeen years, he'd spent most of his nights sleeping in the fire truck, but lately, he'd been staying downtown. It was closer to the business district where he often got his day jobs.
On this particular night, his feet led him to one of the old fire trucks in the yard, the one that had been his grandfather's first fire truck, where he'd started out as a rookie fireman.
Drake tired the door and it screeched open on rusty hinges. He clambered inside and sat down on the passenger side. The old vehicle smelled musty and dusty and Drake sneezed.
Without meaning to, he hit the button on the glove compartment and it swung open. Some old asbestos gloves fell out, a bunch of papers, and old moleskin. Drake picked it all up and was about to put it back in the glove compartment when he noticed the name on the book's cover.
Drake ran his fingers over the name embossed on the cover. "Edward J. Jacobs," he whispered. The sunlight was fading but Drake started reading the book. It was a diary from his grandfather's first days as a fireman, and it was fascinating.
Then towards the end of the little book, his grandfather started pouring out his confusion, his shame, and his pain. He loved his wife, but he'd met a girl and he'd fallen in love. Her name was Linda.
Edward Jacobs' last entry read: "I'm walking away from Linda. I have to. I made a vow to my wife."
From between the pages of the moleskin, a photo and a piece of paper fluttered down. The photo was of a sunny-faced young woman with long black hair. The paper read: "Linda Thompson" and it had an address that was just a few blçcks away from the firehouse.
Drake wanted to talk to this woman who had known his grandfather as a young man. Maybe she could tell him new stories. He decided he would go and visit her the next day.
Drake found the address easily and knocked on the door. An older woman with a sweet smile opened the door. "Are you Linda Thompson?" he asked.
"I used to be!" the woman said. "But that was before I married almost fifty years ago!"
"Did you know Edward Jacobs?" Drake asked, and the woman stared at him as if she has seen a ghost. Just then, screams erupted from the house next door and a thick column of smoke started pouring out of a window.
"FIRE!" someone screamed, and Drake leaped into action. He ran in through the open door to where the fire was burning in the kitchen and grabbed a thick blanket from the sofa on the way.
He threw the blanket over the burning stove where an oil-filled pot was in flames, and within minutes, the fire was out. Before long, the fire department was there and they dowsed the area just to be sure.
"Hey!" the man said. "I know you! You're Ed Jacobs's grandson! I thought you were going to be a fireman."
"I never got the chance," Drake said shyly.
"Well, you have the instincts!" the fireman said. "I'm the captain at the firehouse now, and I'm looking to recruit some rookies, so why don't you come down and enroll?"
Drake walked out of the house grinning happily and found Linda Thompson waiting for him. "You're Ed's grandson?" she asked. "Come with me. There is someone I want you to meet."
Linda led Drake back into her house and introduced him to a pretty woman in her early fifties who looked hauntingly familiar. "Drake," Linda said. "This is your aunt, my daughter, Melissa."
Drake couldn't believe it! He has a family! Melissa had five children, and they were married and had children... He had a BIG family. Drake just couldn't stop smiling. All his dreams were coming true!
Linda smiled at him with tears in her eyes. "I loved your grandfather, Drake, and I never told him about Melissa. I knew he'd be torn apart. But now that he's gone, maybe I can give you the family you deserve."
What can we learn from this story?
- Dreams do come true, and usually in the most unexpected way. Drake's brave act in putting out the fire led to him becoming what he'd always dreamed of: a fireman.
- Family is the greatest of all treasures. Drake lost his grandfather, but he found an aunt and dozens of cousins who welcomed him with open arms.
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If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a young boy who learns the true meaning of honor and victory from his seriously ill grandfather.
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