Local fire hero staying strong
MARYBOROUGH'S Alexander Casperson cuddled his great great nephew, Jake, yesterday as he relived the fire that almost wiped out him and his siblings 84 years ago.
The Chronicle's 150 Years of History page revealed the amazing story on Wednesday and a family member phoned us to say Alex was still living in Maryborough.
Alex, now nearly 97, was one of the first local child heroes of early last century and he's outlived brothers Brian and Bill and his sister, Gloria, the kids he rescued from their Granville house fire in 1927.
The children had gone to bed in one room of their home while their parents had been visiting neighbours a quarter of a mile away.
Though his hearing needs an aid and he's lost sight in one eye his memory is as clear as a bell.
“I could hear our little dog Foxie scratching at the door and then I smelled the smoke and I realized the curtains had caught fire from the kero lamp. I woke Brian, 4, and Bill, 7, and Gloria, 10, and grabbed their hands.
“I put Brian over my shoulder and dragged the others out and well away from the flames.
“Then I remembered my mother's port and I went back in to get it because it had all our papers and some money in it.”
“Then we all went to the house where my parents were with their friends. They were shocked at what had happened, but I told my mum I'd got the kids safe and had the dog and the port.”
A local policeman said Alexander was a hero and the Burrum Council through the state government decided to give him a bravery medal at a ceremony at the Granville Hall. He's still got it and a scroll from the Royal Humane Society which was under the patronage of the King. The puppy, Foxie, was given a personal collar.
The Caspersons came from Norway, says Alexander, after their great ancestor sailor, Martin Casperson, jumped ship here.
The close knit family is extremely proud of their heritage and their story was revealed last week in the Chronicle's popular history series.
When Alexander turned 15 he went to work for Wilson Hart, pioneer saw millers and was a miller all his working life.
“They wanted me to stay on when I turned 65, but I reckoned a lifetime in one job was enough.
“No one ever knew at the job that I'd got these awards as a kid and I wasn't one to tell them.
“It's only come out in the last few years, although the family has always been very proud and very close.”
It was at the award ceremony that a young girl named Lottie first set eyes on the young hero and it took another 15 years before they met at a tennis club.
They fell in love and were wed for 45 years.
“We didn't have children,” says Alex.
But the kin of the brothers and sister he saved from death in the fire have always been close and caring. Now Alexander is looking forward to a telegram from the Queen/King when he hits the 100 mark.