FORT MILL -- Without Dorothy Ingram, some of you would never read these words. For six years, the 49-year-old mother of three has spent the dark hours after midnight delivering The Herald. Not one route, but two, for a little extra money.
If people such as Ingram don't work the graveyard shift and deliver the news, I am broke and unemployed. I love Dorothy Ingram. And Friday morning, she delivered more than papers -- she may have saved two people's lives.
Around 3 a.m. Friday, Ingram was delivering papers on Nims Street in Fort Mill. She smelled smoke.
"I rode slow, up and down, to find out where it was coming from," she said.
She saw the fire in a garage behind the home of Emory and Helen Wynn at 407 Nims St. She pulled her van close to the house, called 911, "and I started blowing the horn. I kept blowing it."
The horn woke the neighbors next door, Julie Faile and her husband, David.
David was born and raised on this street. He said he thought, "Who is blowing their darn horn?" and got up to maybe throw some choice words out the door when he saw orange outside his bedroom window. He opened the blinds, and flames shot up from the garage not 20 yards from his face.
Didn't hurt, at that point, that David is Capt. David Faile, volunteer, Fort Mill Fire Department.
"I'm 40 years old, all my life I've known Helen and Emory Wynn," he said. "My kids call them Mawmaw and Pawpaw."
David jumped into his fire boots kept by the door as his pager went off saying there was a fire. No kidding, he's looking at it burn the shop and melt the siding on the house where the Wynns are asleep. He grabbed his radio and blurted, "I'm on scene" and he and his wife bounded out the door. By this time, Ingram the paper carrier was pounding on the front door. Julie Faile started pounding on the side door.
Emory and Helen Wynn woke up and scrambled out of the house. The occupants David Faile knows and loves like family were safe, so he could worry about the buildings. With 23 years of firefighting under his belt, he ran to the back to start watering down the house to keep the fire from spreading as the first fire truck arrived from the station just two blocks away.
The dispatchers and firefighters were wondering aloud on the radio, "How'd he get there so fast?" and Faile didn't have time to say what he was thinking: "I just about rolled out of bed and got to this fire."
The trucks arrived, and firefighters kept the fire from spreading to the house.
Julie Faile said the fire proves there are good people in this world, and we all need to look out for each other. She wrote to me: "The paper carrier could have kept delivering her papers and not bothered to stop. But she did stop, and I will always believe that the Lord sent an angel down our street at just the right time. I feel she saved Helen and Emory's lives by honking her horn, calling 911 and getting the firemen headed that way, and for banging on the front door while I banged on the side door."
David Faile put it bluntly: "The old Fort Mill still exists. People came out of their houses to help all down the street."
Dorothy Ingram said about the stopping, honking and banging: "I sure hope if I ever need it, in my house, somebody would do the same for me."
The fire is believed to have started with mechanical failure of a stove in the shop, Fort Mill Fire Chief Ken Kerber said.
"People read and see what happens in big cities, people walk right by, but not here," Kerber said. "It was the neighborly thing to do, the right thing to do."
Emory Wynn said in what might be the most important statement ever uttered in his 40 years living on Nims Street: "Good neighbors and great people around here."
Get this: Both Julie and David Faile went to work Friday morning after both were up all night with the fire.
And Dorothy Ingram? She left 407 Nims St. Friday morning after the fire trucks got there. She delivered all her papers on both her routes. Then, she came back by Nims Street and asked Emory Wynn if he was all right and if he needed anything. He said he was fine, that she had given him what he needed: her help.
Then, she finished her night's work. Ingram gave Wynn his newspaper and went home.