PENNEY FIRE SPARKS MEMORIESIT'S BEEN hard for me to realize how long ago that disastrous Penney fire happened, but in trying to reminisce with others who remembered it, I was quickly made to realize is was a half a century ago! First shock was the realization that the only last Penney employee I could find was Howard Lemasters. All others we could recall were deceased. Howard remembered he was working there that evening but was having supper at Bohandy's Restaurant when he got word of the fire. He returned quickly to the store, but it was impossible to enter the building. He lost some boots and some gifts he had put aside. He and his wife were in their first year of teaching in Barnesville. Previously he had worked part-time for Peney's in Bellaire for fifty cents and hour. Learning that the Barnesville Penney's paid $1 an hour, he switched to the Barnesville location.REMEMBERING HOW the T & A Rogers Hardware store next door to Penney's was threatened, I contacted Margie Robinson, widow of Tom Robinson, owner-manager of the hardware store. She vividly remembers that awful night and the aftermath.T & A ROGERS had to be closed for nine weeks following the fire. Tom continued to pay the wages and insurance for his employees during that period. They, along with a professional firm from Pittsburgh, completely cleaned and restored the building for business. A Fire Sale of damaged items was held when the store re-opened. Margie also helped and recalls two things in particular - seeing teddy bears floating in the fire's dirty water in the basement toyland and the tremendous number of cockroaches that had invaded the store since the fire.IN THE Enterprise account of the fire, it was reported that employee, Kenny Cross, equipped with a smoke mask and a rope tied around his waist, went into the smoky store to rescue valuable record books. While inside, the phone rang and he answered it. It was Margie calling to tell her husband and son that dinner was ready. Kenny then told her of the fire. Incidentally, he salvaged the record books.BARBARA LUCAS, whose family had a long association with the Moose Lodge, was not too aware of damage to the Moose building except for smoke and water damage to the third floor. What she did remember, though, was how grateful she was that she had picked up the doll buggy and doll for her daughter that afternoon.NO LONGER the busy commercial hub in the are, Barnesville is still a vital center in many aspects - healthcare, recreation, education and social services all supported by and enhanced by the outstanding volunteerism of its citizenry. The true spirit of Christmas prevails here like it does in Dickens' A CHRISTMAS CAROL. As Scrooge said, "God Bless Us, Everyone"jeanealities is compiled by Jean Palmer Davies, lifetime Barnesville Enterprise associate. She may be reached at jeandavies@comcast.net.