In 1968, a white firefighter named William Carroll from South Boston saved the life of a black baby during a fire at the Roxbury housing development. This was a time marked by deadly racial riots across America.
Forty years later, Evangeline Harper, the baby he saved - now a grown woman, tracked down William to give him her thanks. Maria Cramer of The Boston Globe has the story:
A newspaper photograph captured their image - a white firefighter from South Boston with his lips pressed to the mouth of a black baby from the Roxbury public housing development - at a time when riots sparked by racial tensions were burning down American cities.
But despite this most intimate of introductions, they remained strangers. William Carroll won a commendation for the rescue, stayed on the job another 34 years, and retired. Evangeline Harper grew up, lost her family to drugs and illness, had six children of her own, and became a nursing and teaching assistant. And through it all someone would often tell her the story about the day she almost died and the man who would not let it happen. She always wanted to meet him and say thank you.
Yesterday, more than 40 years after the fire, she finally did.
In the neighborhood where they first met, Carroll, a slim 71-year-old, got out of his car, dressed in a navy blue uniform he had borrowed from a fellow firefighter, strode up to the 40-year-old woman, and beamed.
"You've grown a lot since the last time I saw you," he said, laughing and putting out his hand. She smiled, gently took his hand, and looked at him almost shyly.
"Thank you so much for remembering me," he told her.
Then he pulled her into a tight embrace and they held on to each other as they stood on Keegan Street, just a few yards from where he had carried her limp body decades ago.
"Thank you so much," she said softly.
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