Kids’ Calm Courage Can Soften Even A Curmudgeon’S Heart


Proudly displaying their certificates and medals with Dave Bathke, Rose Walker, Jessica Shill, Landon Shill, Gary Hatch, (Monet Walker, Madison Shill with certificates), parents and children alike smile broadly as they are honored for their good and thoughtful deed.

Proudly displaying their certificates and medals with Dave Bathke, Rose Walker, Jessica Shill, Landon Shill, Gary Hatch, (Monet Walker, Madison Shill with certificates), parents and children alike smile broadly as they are honored for their good and thoughtful deed. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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I’m a certified curmudgeon, one of those grouchy people you cross the street to avoid. But somehow my editor keeps sending me off on articles that are supposed to melt my heart. Ha, good luck with that.

For instance, when we learned that two young people from Tonto Village were going to receive certificates of merit and medals from the Hellsgate Fire Department for being astute, alert, thoughtful young people who did something positive for a couple in the Village.

I work Saturdays. He said I should shoot it. And since everyone else was outta town, he said I should write it.

“OK, OK,” I groaned, “I’m shooting it, I might as well interview these kids. Ya never know, I may come up with a pearl of wisdom or two.”

Saturdays are an uneven mix of too many assignments or too few. This particular Saturday fell into the “too many” category. So who’s got time to actually talk to people?

Nonetheless, off to Star Valley I went.

Eleven-year-old Madison Shill turned up first, so I started asking her questions. How did she happen to be passing by Jennie Radcliff’s house? Madison took off talking faster than I could write. I asked her to slow down.

About this time, curly haired Monet Walker sauntered in and said, “Hi.”

He explained that he and Madison were taking a shortcut to his house that led past the Radcliffs’ house. Looking up, they saw this big cloud of black smoke coming out of the Radcliffs’ chimney.

Madison said Monet’s eyes got really big as the smoke turned white and flames started spewing out of the chimney. Madison and Monet saw Shawn, one of their neighbors, cleaning up his front yard. They hollered and when he saw the flaming chimney, he ran over to the Radcliffs to warn them.

Shawn also got a garden hose and tried to put the flames out. The Radcliff family called Hellsgate Fire Department and waited.

Now, the Radcliffs were actually celebrating a birthday and this incident kinda put a damper on that party. Madison and Monet hung around for awhile, watching all the fire trucks come down the narrow street in Tonto Village.

All in all, the kids’ quick, calm action may have saved a life or two — not to mention the house.

The recognition ceremony started and Hellsgate Fire Chief Gary Hatch detailed Madison’s and Monet’s actions. He then presented them with their awards and posed for pictures before everyone adjourned to the Hellsgate break room for soft drinks and cake.

What surprised me most was Madison’s and Monet’s attitude; calm, matter-of-fact and no big deal. They figured anyone with any sense would have done the same.

Oh boy, how is a grouchy guy like me going to make this sweet and mushy? I’m not. I got the shots, interviewed the kids and wrote the article.

If someone tells you it lifted my spirits about kids today — I’ll flat deny it.

After all, a guy’s got a reputation to protect.

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