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Feb 20, 2008

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Gender: Female
Status: Single
Age: 69
Sign: Virgo

City: Louisville
State: Kentucky
Country: US

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Oh NO, Mr. Bill
Current mood: shocked

Saturday night I was on my way to a friend's place.  One of my MySpace friends called from Canada on my cell phone.  I spoke to him a minute as I was sitting at a red light.  It was hard to hear as there were fire trucks coming down the road, sirens blazing, and they turned the way that I was traveling.  I didn't think much about it, finished up on the phone and took off when the road was clear.  The further I drove, the more that I knew something was horribly wrong.  There were fire trucks and emergency vehicles everywhere.  As I was just to turn, a cop came screeching up a one way street and blocked my turn.  He stopped his car, so that meant no one else was getting through.  That's when I saw the flames above a building that turned the night sky to brilliant shades of orange. 

I turned and went back the other way.  I  was going to go another route that I knew over by the Lava House.  As I turned onto that road, there was yet another fire truck.  These streets are narrow with cars parked on either side of the road too.  I turned around yet again.  So I thought I would go a little more out of the way toward my destination, when yet another fire truck stopped me.  I couldn't get out of Germantown!  LET ME OUT! 

I could see the fire rising above the trees and the roof tops.  I kept straining to catch a glimpse of what was on fire.  From my proximity and view of the orange sky at 11:00 p.m., I knew that it was VERY close to the Lava House or it was the Lava House burning.  If it wasn't the Lava, then it was too close for comfort, as there is so much stuff in the place that would burn hot like this.  I knew that was one hot fire since the flames were so large and shooting as they were.  It scared me for those that live there, and for those that have studios and work spaces rented there as well. 

moments later:

The Lava House was a warehouse with art studios, apartments, and work space for artists, mechanics, and bands had played there, as well as having cookouts in the summer.  It was a great space for get togethers and other events.  Lava stands for Louisville Assembly of Vanguard Artists, and was owned by Bart's father, Glenn.  Bart lived there, along with several others, one of which was known as Mr. Bill. 

I had met Mr. Bill only last summer.  We had a cookout one night and we sat around talking for quite awhile.  I had heard stories about this character and was a bit on guard.  I really didn't have to be.  Mr. Bill was a good man, albeit a big drinker and a bigger talker.  It was quite apparent that he just loved the company of us girls, though.  Kristin had cut her foot, and he took painstaking care of it for her.  That night as we prepared to go on about our ways, he really didn't want us to leave and only wanted our company for awhile longer.  I wish now that we had stayed longer with him.  That wasn't the last time I saw Mr. Bill though.  He was always happy to see us. 

Finally, I made it to my friend's place.  The local news was just going off.  They told the address of the fire, but I still couldn't tell where that fire was exactly by the address they gave.  I called Kristin, who had a studio at the Lava House.  She wasn't home, and so I grew more apprehensive that it was the Lava that was burning.  Finally she called me back and told me that what I feared was indeed true.  She said it's burned to the ground, and it's all over now except for Mr. Bill had gotten burned.  Scott carried him out while Chad sprayed fire extinguishers after fire extinguisher trying to clear the both of them a way out.  Then there was Stuart filling up buckets of water and pouring them on the still burning Mr. Bill.  He asked Mr. Bill where he wanted Stuart to pour the water on him.  ON MY DICK!  Mr. Bill yelled.  Oh, that's our Mr. Bill! 

So they got Mr. Bill out of the building, but he was not well to start with.  These burns caused him to resemble a burnt marshmallow or a hot dog.  Kristin went to the hospital to check on him.  Everyone else was in a state of shock and wondering what, if anything, could be salvaged and were finally reduced to just watching it all burn to the ground.  Mr. Bill's brother was there with him, and was beside himself.  I can only imagine now that his brother already knew that Mr. Bill was not going to make it.

Poor Mr. Bill died the next day around noon.  Kristin had gone back to the hospital, and his family was with him.  They had turned off the machines and Mr. Bill had passed away, but his spirit wasn't gone yet.  He had quite the spirit!  It's still around, if I do so venture to say.  I was not as close to him as a lot of people were, but still yet ... when you know a person like him, you either accept him from the beginning and love who he was, or you don't accept him PERIOD.

  Mr. Bill and Disco

The loss of the Lava House and Mr. Bill is a great loss for this community.  Some took the Lava House and maybe Mr. Bill for granted too, as if they would always be there.  Others put a lot of hard work and love into that place.  The building itself was an old warehouse that was once used to house the city's trolley cars. The building contained several hundred thousand dollars worth of art and equipment, including torches, woodworking tools, and supplies for photography and ceramics.  There were also several cars in there, as well as Mr. Bill's trailer that he lived in.  It had 35-foot-high ceilings framed by massive wooden beams.

Mr. Bill was a 65-year-old retired engineer and Navy officer turned contractor.  He did woodworking, cabinet-making, laminated the veneer on countertops and was "an artist in his own right."

These are some quotes from the local news about him: 

Mr. Bill "stuck around long enough for us to say goodbye. … He called my wife 'girlfriend,' " said Aron Conaway.  "Bill was a really gentle, very loving person with a sassy personality. I think he kind of considered the artists in the LAVA House his kids, really."

Glenn Herre, Bart Herre's father and the owner of the 13,000-square-foot building, said Bill Christie was one of his first tenants and had lived there for eight to 10 years. "He was around all the time," said Herre, 57, who lives in the Highlands. "He was always there to help everybody. He was like everybody's older father."

The fire also took a dog that everyone knew.  His name was Helvis.  Iggy, his buddy, made it out.

Gone, but not forgotten! 

5:21 PM - 2 Comments - 6 Kudos - Add Comment -

Keith (enemy combatant for peace and impeachment)

So very sad. I'm truly sorry for your loss. Words truly fail me at atime like this.

Posted by Keith (enemy combatant for peace and impeachment) on Thursday, January 31, 2008 at 11:21 PM
[Reply to this]


A compilation that says so much. RIP Bill.

Posted by Quiz on Thursday, January 31, 2008 at 11:24 PM
[Reply to this]

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