Thomas Edison’s laboratory was virtually destroyed by fire in December 1914. Although the damage exceeded $2 million, the buildings were only insured for $238,000 because they were made of concrete and thought to be fireproof.
Much of Edison’s life’s work went up in spectacular flames that December night. At the height of the fire, Edison’s 24-year old son, Charles, frantically searched for his father among the smoke and debris.
He finally found him, calmly watching the scene, his face glowing in the reflection, his white hair blowing in the wind.
“My heart ached for him,” said Charles.
“He was 67 – no longer a young man – and everything was going up in flames. When he saw me, he shouted, “Charles, where’s your mother?”
When I told him I didn’t know, he said, “Find her. Bring her here. She will never see anything like this as long as she lives.”
The next morning, Edison looked at the ruins and said, “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.”
Three weeks after the fire, Edison managed to deliver his first phonograph.