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1986

Fire

Muffy is just welcoming a visitor. "You'll never guess what rang my bell just this very minute," she tells us, "A heavy coat, and Cousin Mort, bundled tightly in it!" Mort is so cold, he's shivering. It has been a long, cold ride for him.

"What can I do to take care of you?"

"I'll take anything hot," says Mort, "What have you g-g-got?"

So Muffy goes to make him a cup of cocoa.

Meanwhile, in the computer room, Sam is checking out the store on TXL's monitor. He's especially alert tonight because he was talking to some firefighters earlier in the day. They told him what to look for that might cause a fire.

TXL is pleased. "When it comes to fire, you can never be too careful," she confirms.

Sam takes a look at the children's department where Jeff and Jodie are trying hard to think of an idea for a display. Jodie is fresh out of ideas and Jeff is trying to help by listing some of her previous displays.

He lists the camping display, doll houses, ". . . and don't forget the tropical island!"

"Oh, now you're getting warm!" says Jodie.

Up pop Mort and Muffy.

"Did someone say it's warm in here?" Mort asks, "That's a place worth being near."

Muffy explains that Mort has caught cold and a chill and he just can't seem to get warm. Jodie suggests they ask Sam to turn up the furnace.

"Wouldn't a fire be quicker? We could burn that wicker!" Mort says, referring to a wicker basket sitting next to Jodie.

"Uh-uh, no, Mort, you can't start a fire in the store," Jodie answers.

Mort can't imagine why not. So Jeff and Jodie explain how dangerous fires can be, burning down forests and houses and people, too, if they're not careful.

"Back where I live when there's a storm we always build fires to keep us warm."

"Oh, but even in the country, Mort, you have to be careful," Jeff says.

"That's right," agrees Jodie, "and in the city, people usually only build a fire in a fireplace." There's no fireplace in the store, but, Jodie adds, "There's nothing like a fire in a fireplace." She sings about the wonderful feeling of a fire after a day of play in the wintertime. "It's one of the coziest feelings I know," she sings, "to sit snug and warm by the fire's rosy glow." The others join in as they sing of the other benefits of fire, like barbecued hot dogs, fried onion rings, and marshmallow roasts. "But still when I think about the fire and its flames, I think about what followed all my wintry games," Jodie continues. "It's one of the coziest feelings we know, to sit snug and warm by the fire's rosy glow." As they sing, the lights dim and shadows of light flicker as if they're in front of a big fireplace.

Mort finally gives in. "If all of you say that I can't build a fire, then a new cup of cocoa is what I require."

Jodie tells Jeff it's easy to get a chill like Mort did if you're not careful. That's why, when she and her brother were outside playing in the cold, her mother would start the fireplace going.

"And then she'd call down to us and she'd say, 'Jodie! I've started a fire!' And then, she'd call to my friend Julie because she always played with me and she'd call, 'Julie, I've started a fire!'"

Sam is working on a crossword puzzle. His screen is still on the children's department, so he hears Jodie cry out, "I've started a fire!"

"Fire! Oh boy, flamin' fire alarms! This is it, TXL, there's a fire in the store." He begins frantically looking for his gear.

"Excuse me, Mr. Crenshaw, but I don't think . . ."

"Oh, yes there is, TXL, I just heard Jodie say she started a fire!" He goes rooting around below as his closets begin spinning. Things fall everywhere. Finally he pops up. He's ready. Or so he thinks. Instead of a fire hat and fire extinguisher, he has a sideways baseball cap and a hockey stick.

"All right! All right! I got it! I got it! Okay. All right TXL I'm ready. I'm off to fight the fire!"

"Mr. Crenshaw!"

"Not now, TXL, I've gotta fight a fire! Really!"

"With a hockey stick, Mr. Crenshaw, with a hockey stick?"

So Sam gets the fire hat and extinguisher, but the hat covers his eyes and he walks into a wall. At last, however, he's off to the children's department.

When he gets there, he shouts, "Okay, where's the fire?"

Jodie takes a few deep breaths. "Sam, you startled me. What are you doing?"

"Stay calm, Jodie, stay calm. I'm gonna put out that fire. There's nothing to worry about. The Crenshaw fire patrol is on the job. Fear not!"

Jeff and Jodie laugh. "We're calm, Sam, because there's no fire," says Jeff.

After some confusion, it's clear what happened. Jodie explains, "I was just telling a story, Sam."

"Well!" says Sam, "When it comes to fire you can never be too careful. Yeah, I heard the word "fire" and I was just up here in a flash, like that, and, that's the way we firefighters are, you know."

"I didn't know you were a firefighter, Sam," says Jeff.

"Oh yeah! - Well, no, I'm not exactly, but um, we visited some real ones just today and they showed me how they learn to put out real fires, you know."

"Wow, that must have been great!"

"Oh, great balls of fire, it sure was, Jeff." So he tells them about it, and as he does we can see what happened.

He had gone to visit the academy where they train firefighters to climb ladders, both on the ground and on the ladder truck, and where they set safe fires in order to train them how to put them out. Sam tells about their hoses, their protective gear, and the pumper trucks.

Next, since he's a security guard, one of the firefighters taught him how to deal with fires. First, he told him to call the fire department. Then, if the fire was small enough, he could use a fire extinguisher on it. He shows him how, using a real fire.

Meanwhile, Mort and Muffy are back in her room, doing exercises to try to warm Mort up. Mort insists that it doesn't work. Blowing on his hands doesn't seem to help either, since his breath is cold, too. He's fixated on starting a fire. Muffy suggests he put on an extra sweater instead.

When he gets back to TXL, Sam tells her about his mistake, but TXL thinks it's all right, because "when it comes to fire you can't be too careful." In line with that, Sam tells her that he has checked the whole store for fire hazards.

"Well, if you've done all that then I suppose you have time for a story."

"Oh, I do if it's about those people who always forget things, uh, you know, I like stories about them."

"The Forgetful Family . . . As a matter of fact it is."

This story is about the time the Forgetful Family went camping. Fortunately, they take along a friend named Roger Reminder who remembered everything. (The picture shows Roger as a little black boy in a Superman-type suit, except there's an "R" on his chest instead of an "S.") First, Roger has to remind them to bring their camping gear, next, he reminds them where they are going. When they reach the campsite, Freddie asks, "What do we do now?"

"Why don't we get out of the car and set up the campsite?" Roger suggests.

Of course, they've forgotten how to do that. Freddie looks befuddled in a tent. His sister Flo is trying to row a boat on dry land. Roger tries to help them out. But when Roger sees Frannie (the mom) lighting a fire in the middle of a pile of dry leaves, he tells everyone to stop everything.

"This is something you mustn't ever forget! When you start a fire, make sure there are no leaves close by because they could catch fire. (The leaves disappear from the picture). And always have a bucket of water nearby." He also tells them to have a shovel and dirt handy to smother the fire if necessary. After they've finished, he tells them to always put out the fire completely with water and dirt.

So because of Roger, the Forgetfuls have a great trip. They remember how to build and put out a fire, though they still had to be reminded to put hot dogs on the end of their sticks for their wienie roast.

When TXL finishes telling the story, Sam is amazed.

"Imagine forgetting things that quickly!" TXL says.

Sam mentions that it was a good thing that Roger was there to give them the tips on fire safety.

"That's why I wanted to tell you that story. It reminded me of you and your interest in fire safety."

"Eh, what interest in fire safety is that, TXL?"

"Oh, Mr. Crenshaw. Have you forgotten how you were checking the store for fire hazards?"

"Oh! Yeah, so I was, so I was."

"Sometimes you remind me a great deal of the Forgetful Family, Mr. Crenshaw."

"Who? - Oh! TXL you know sometimes I think you're right."

Up in the children's department, Jeff and Jodie are still brainstorming, trying to think of an idea for a display. Jodie thinks maybe the temperature is making it difficult to think. "Mort was right, it is a little chilly in here."

"Yeah. Wasn't that funny that Mort thought we could just build a fire right here in the middle of the store?"

"Yeah." Agrees Jodie. "Fire's a great thing as long as it's in its place."

"Yeah, I guess that's why they call it a fireplace."

"Mmhmm. But there are lots of other places where people can build fires." She sings, "Glass blowers heat glass so hot it will glow, and then through a long pipe they blow and they blow, and soon they've created a beautiful thing, a bottle or a vase that is fit for a king," as she sings, we see the glassblowers. Then Jeff and Jodie sing together, "Fire, fire, it's all thanks to fire. It makes so many things that we desire. It makes engines run, gives us light from the sun, there's so much we can do thanks to fire."

Next, Jodie sings about the fire that blasts a rocket off to the moon and after we've seen that, Jeff sings about the sun: "The sun is a star made of gasses and flame without it the Earth would just not be the same. For millions of years it has burned its great fire to give us the light and the heat we require . . ." Then he and Jodie sing the refrain again.

"Jeff," Jodie says, "I don't know why I am standing here singing about fire. I have gotta think about my display."

Jeff wonders what will happen if she doesn't think of an idea.

"Well, Jeff, that's what worries me. I'd probably get fired."

"Oh, now, Jodie, it can't be that bad."

"Yes it is, Jeff. If I don't do my job, I am going to get fired!"

Sam is listening in, and again, only half paying attention since he's still working on his crossword puzzle.

"Wait. FIRE! Oh boy. This time I heard it for sure, crystal clear. Jodie shouted fire!" He begins hunting for his gear again.

"Yeah, but Mr. Crenshaw, my data doesn't show any evidence -"

'I can't rely on your data right now, TXL, gotta go on a firefighter's instinct!" The closets spin and items fly, but Sam gets his gear pretty quickly and rushes off - running into the door again briefly. "Oh! I keep doin' that!" he mutters.

In the meantime, Muffy has covered Mort with blankets and all her sweaters. He has drunk all her cocoa, but he is still shivering away.

"As hostesses go, you really deliver," he says gratefully to Muffy, "But I'm sorry to say, I can't stop this sh-shiver. The only thing left as I mentioned before, is to start up a fire, right here on the floor."

"Oh! A fire is something that I've never made, and I really must say I'm a little afraid," admits Muffy.

"In the country we build a new fire every day. Just give me a match and I'll show you the way." He promises that no one else will ever know. So Muffy hands him a match.

Just then Sam has reached the children's department. "Okay, everybody stay calm, stay calm. I've got it. Just lead me to that fire and I'll have it out before you can say, 'The fearless firefighter fli- the famous fleeter flighter, the flighter fleeter flighter, Die Fledermaus, the flee - Never mind, just tell me where the fire is and I'll put it out."

Jodie and Jeff assure him once again that there is no fire. But Sam insists he heard Jodie yell fire.

"I know what it was," Jodie says calmly. "I was talking to Jeff about getting fired. Fire - Duh," she says, emphasizing the "D" sound, " . . . not fire."

"Duh." Sam repeats. "You mean there isn't any fire."

"Sorry Sam." Jeff says.

Sam assures him there's no need to be sorry. "It's a good thing there wasn't any fire."

Jodie puts an arm around him. "Yeah, but just think if there was, Sam. You would've been prepared."

"Right! Right! Right! That's the thing, Jodie. You have to be ready at all times, gotta keep your ears open, you know, in case someone should yell fire."

Then Muffy can be heard yelling, "Fire! Fire!"

"You gotta keep alert," Sam continues, "And keep your senses keen and aware. Sometimes just the smell of smoke, you know, is enough to warn you, you know what they say, you know . . ." Smoke is crawling into the door of the children's department and along the floor.

"Sam!" Jodie says.

"Sam, Sam, wait a minute!" says Jeff.

But Sam goes on, "Where there's smoke, there's . . ."

"Fire! Fire!" Muffy cries, bursting into the room. "Fire in my mousehole. Oh! Mort made a fire and it's out of control!"

Sam babbles for a few minutes as Jodie goes to call the fire department, but he finally gets himself together. "Come on, let's go!"

The fire is a small one, but the flames are already licking at Muffy's furniture.

"Oh, hurry! Please hurry, the flame's getting higher, won't somebody put out this terrible fire!" Mort shouts from in front of Muffy's place.

Jeff rushes in to see if the now contrite Mort is okay.

Sam is right behind him with the fire extinguisher and squirts out the fire before it gets very far. Sam says he doesn't think it did much damage.

"Well, that's certainly how it looks. Oh, Sam!" Muffy says, snuggling up to Sam and kissing him on the cheek. "You certainly are a hero in this mouse's books."

"Oh, gosh!" Sam says bashfully.

A bit later, Jodie comes into the children's department. The firefighters have checked Muffy's mousehole and seen that the fire is completely out. She now turns her attention to Mort and Muffy. "Now are you two all right?"

Muffy coughs. "Well, I know I'm okay. Mort what do you say?"

"Well, I finally stopped feeling chilly. Instead, I'm just feeling silly."

"Well, I hope both of you learned a lesson about playing with fire."

"What I've learned I will now explain," says Muffy solemnly. "I'll never start a fire again."

Mort says he was really the one to blame, but Jeff says what really matters is they've both learned a lesson about what can happen if you're not careful with matches.

Sam adds what he's learned: "When it comes to fire . . ." He begins. Jeff and Jodie join him for the rest of it: "You can never be too careful."

"Sam," says Jodie, "You were right there with the fire fighting equipment and you knew just what to do. You were really a hero." She puts her arm around him.

Sam is humble. "Shufflin' shoelaces, Jodie, I just did what anybody would do. Well, anybody who knows about preventing fires that is."

That reminds Jeff of his idea for Jodie's display.

"Oh, no! My display! I completely forgot about it! What's your idea, Jeff?"

"Well, I think you should do your display on fire prevention."

"That is a great idea!" Jodie exclaims.

Sam offers his fire hat and extinguisher for the display. Jodie says they can show people how to look for fire hazards in their homes, like oily rags or frayed electric wires.

"Jodie I think it could be one of your best displays yet," says Jeff.

"It sure is lucky that I came and started up that little blaze, 'cause if I hadn't come today, you wouldn't have this great display." Mort says slyly.

Jodie gapes for a second and then says with a playful scolding look, "Mort, how can you say something like that!" As she says this she pokes him in the chest repeatedly.

"Oh, please don't poke, it was only a joke!" Mort says. Then everyone breaks into laughter.


Quizzes:

  • A series of scenarios:
    • Can you see the fire hazard here? (A spilled can of paint).
    • Where's the fire hazard in this room? (Oily rags right by the furnace)
    • What about in this picture? (Frayed exposed electric wire)
    • TXL suggests we take our parents through our home to look for fire hazards and make our homes safer.
  • Which fires are good and which are bad?
    • A fire in a fireplace with the screen closed. (A good fire)
    • A candle held by an adult while the power is out. (A good fire)
    • Children playing with matches (A bad fire)
    • "Remember," TXL warns, "never play with matches or lighters!"
  • "Do you know what to do if there's a fire in your house?" TXL asks. We see a picture of a small kitchen fire with a little boy nearby. "If there are adults in the house, the first thing you should do is call them. Don't try to put the fire out yourself. Leave the house right away. Don't stop to get toys or clothes, just go. Go to a neighbor's house. Next we see a picture of an adult using a fire extinguisher on the fire and then leaving the house with a child in tow. "If the fire is still burning, call the emergency number . . . Do you know the emergency number? If you don't, find it and remember it, just in case there's a fire in your house."

Nursery Rhyme:

  • None

Notes:

  • When Jeff is listing Jodie's previous displays, he mentions the "tropical island." This is odd, since the only tropical island we've seen her build was in the basement and created especially for Muffy, and not as a display. ("Vacations").
  • Throughout the 1986 season, Bob Dermer effectively delivers amusing lines from Sam using a new comic device. An assured answer followed by a contradiction. For example, "Oh yeah! Well, no I'm not . . ." when Jeff asks Sam if he's a firefighter.
  • We found it pretty funny when Jodie said, "I don't know why I am standing here singing about fire."
  • When Sam is trying to say something about the "fearless firefighter," he gets tongue tied, and along with his other mispronunciations, he says, "Die Fledermaus." That's the name of a famous opera by Johann Strauss.
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