Company in 1903. That same year marked another milestone in the Uptegrove story. On Thanksgiving Day of that year (1903), word came by telephone in the late afternoon that the Mill was afire. My father, Uncle Jerome, Edgar and I, started at once for the scene. The trip by trolley, ferry and horse car took two hours, because the fire had closed the ferry from Greenpoint to East 10th St., New York, necessitating our use of the ferry to 23rd St., and also because horse car lines from 23rd St. downtown were either discontinued or detoured because of the fire. It was a bitter cold day, and when we reached there the buildings were sheathed in ice with huge icicles like Stalactites hanging from every ledge as the result of the streams of water played upon the buildings. It was evident from the first glance that the fight was hopeless, and in less than five minutes my father said to his brother, "There's nothing we can do here, Jerome. We'd better go home and do some figuring." I remember my disappointment at that, for it seemed to me that if we had to have a fire we at least ought to have the fun of seeing it. Running to fires had been a standard form of amusement in boyhood days when one occurred near enough to run to.
The Fire Chief of that time was the son or brother (I don't remember which) of the famous and infamous Richard Croker of Tamany Hall, but he was rated highly as a Fire Chief. He stated that this fire was the toughest he had ever had to fight. The Mill and the Warehouses were, of course, filled with dry lumber and Veneers. Next to the Warehouse was a large lumber yard. Adjoining the Mill on the rear was a Standard Oil storage depot for filled barrels of kerosene oil. Across the street were three gas tanks of the Consolidated Gas Co., and their dock was loaded with 400 tons of coal. In addition to all this, the temperature was way below freezing, causing the water to freeze on the outside of buildings and in the streets. The oil in the building caught fire, escaped into the street, and in some way set fire to the coal on the dock. Every type of fire apparatus, including fire boats, with many of each, were called out on five alarms, and the last piece of equipment did not leave the scene day or night until the tenth day.
The final result of the partners figuring was that the business was divided. My father wanted to drop Mahogany as a "busted" proposition and continue only with Cigar Box Lumber. My uncle did not agree that Mahogany in New York was done for, and he had never had much liking for the cigar box lumber end of the business. So it was agreed that a small building for office and veneer warehouse purposes would be erected in New York, and the Mahogany business carried on there by my uncle and John
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