Earlier I wrote about extreme danger associated with the jobs in the Vatican’s basement laundry (HERE), and a connection to the devastating inferno that burned down the Emmett Lee Dickinson Museum (formerly above the coin-op Laundromat on Dickinson Boulevard in historic Washerst, PA). Pope Francis, a frequent visitor to the Emmett Lee Dickinson, contributed to the cause of that fire with heavy loads of drying in the coin-op laundromat. In a way of atoning for his grief and guilt, he opened a laundromat for the homeless in Rome on National Laundry Day, April 15, 2017.
A similar destructive fire occurred in the mid-1800s. Known as the Great Fire of Toronto, the disaster was the first major fire in the history of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Much of the Market Block, the business core of the city, was wiped out, including the predecessor of the current St. James Cathedral.
The first there began shortly after Pope Pius IX, the longest-reigning elected pope in the history of the Catholic Church, visited St. James Cathedral and washed and dried heavy loads of papal gowns in the cathedral’s basement laundry. Because the laundry’s vents were already clogged with lint, the added lint from Pius IX’s robes contributed to the cause of the conflagration.
Emmett Lee Dickinson (Emily Dickinson’s third cousin, twice removed – at her request) was in Canada at the time, and he witness the dreadful destruction of the fire. He wrote about it in his now classic poem, “I could not put the Fire out” (below on the left). His first inspired third-cousin Emily to pen her poem, “You cannot put a Fire out” (below on the right).
Pictured at the right: The ruins of the St. James Cathedral after the Great Fire of Toronto.
By Emmett Lee Dickinson:
I could not put the Fire out –
The Thing I did ignite
And so, myself, without some Guilt –
On almost every Night –
A laundered Flood of Robes –
I put them in a Dryer--
Because the Vents were clogged with lint –
For miles you’d See the Fire
By Emily Dickinson:
You cannot put a Fire out--
A Thing that can ignite
Can go, itself, without a Fan –
Upon the slowest Night –
You cannot fold a Flood –
And put it in a Drawer –
Because the Winds would find it out –
And tell your Cedar Floor –