Wednesday, July 13, 2016

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday ~ Dad's Pet Goat

I love this photo of my dad as a young boy in his wagon with his pet goat pulling the wagon.

This one is even better; it's always great to see such a happy smile!

And here is his mother, Libby, in a photograph dated 1929. My dad turned five years old that June.


My dad did not have the happiest of early childhoods. His parents were not very happy together and divorced in 1933 when Dad was nine years old. When I asked him about any memories of his early childhood, the only one he shared was that he had a pet goat that he adored.

When he was six years old, the family's barn was hit by lightning in a storm which caused a fire and the pet goat died in the fire. Dad was devastated.

Recently, I thought I would see if I could find any newspaper confirmation of this story. Thanks to, I found it!

The Bernardsville (NJ) News, Thursday, July 3, 1930, front page. (Dad would have just turned six years old about two weeks earlier.)

At the top of column 2 was this brief story:

Shower Breaks Heat Wave
   A heavy shower accompanied by small hail stones struck Bernardsville shortly after 1 o'clock Tuesday afternoon and the rain continued until nearly 5 o'clock.
   During the storm the Bernardsville Fire Company was called out to a fire on the McAlpin Pyle Farm in Morris County.
   The heavy rain broke a heat wave of several days' duration. No damage was reported done by the storm in this community but Morristown and other sections were hit hard by hail stones as large as moth balls.

Below the fold in column 5 was this more-detailed story:

Firemen Called to Morris Blaze
   The Bernardsville fire company was called out to a blaze at the McAlpin Pyle estate in Mt. Kemble avenue, Morris county, Tuesday afternoon where a barn struck by lightning during the severe electrical storm was partially destroyed.
   The four trucks of the local company turned out in record time and the Bernardsville, New Vernon, Morris Township and Morristown fireman were in considerable danger in fighting the flames as dynamite and caps had been stored in the structure burned and these were removed by a man in the nick of time.
   Two upper stories of the building, an old coach barn, were burned, but the lower floor as well as adjoining structures were saved by the firemen.


It appears that these newspaper stories confirm the barn being hit by lightning. I can see how this event would have been seared into Dad's memory. No mention of the pet goat, however.


  1. Your dad and the goat are both so cute, but the goat's demise was very sad. How terrible for him to lose the little critter in a fire.

    1. Very sad - I think that powerful emotion (and these old family photos) is why Dad remembered the pet goat of his youth.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    2. Gosh - where's mom when you need her. I do remember similar photos and I think both Mac Pyle and David Pyle, as well as Gordon, lived either on or nearby, down the road. It was, indeed, a closely knit family. In remembering our visit to the place, do you think it was up where the garage was when we saw it? Oh so many lost memories!

    3. Yes, all these families lived very near each other. I will send you an email with an image of where I think this house was.

  2. What great photos! I agree that the one of your dad smiling and having the time of his life is precious.

  3. Replies
    1. I especially love the one with my dad smiling. Thanks for the comment!