By Bonnie Culverhouse
Most adults have memories of the home where they grew up. But it isn’t often you find a family whose childhood is forever etched in stone (or concrete) in a place where many would give their eye teeth to live.
The five Mourad children – Kalani, Renee, Kathy, Kip and Kim can go to the site where the old fire station once stood on Pearl Street and see their names, as well as the date: ‘67.
“We moved in when I was in third grade,” Renee Mourad Stewart said. “There was this spot on a little wedge of grass. When I was in seventh grade – for some reason – the city decided to concrete that and have it as pull-in parking for the firemen.”
The grass was removed, concrete poured and Minden Fire Capt. George Mourad made sure his children’s names and the year were immortalized in the area.
Stewart said the children were most happy they didn’t have to mow in the front yard after that. It provided around five parking spaces, but she said the problem was the fire hydrant in front.
“Sometimes it became a problem because the firemen would back into it all the time,” she said.
Before the family moved to the Pearl Street location, the upstairs was home to Minden City Hall and City Court. When city hall was built downtown, that portion of the fire station was converted to living space.
Stewart said the Mourads were the second family to live there.
“The room where they held city court was our playroom,” she said. “It was huge. We used to roller skate in that room.”
Kip Mourad, now serving as Minden’s fire chief, said he was 6 when the family moved into the fire station.
“The top floor of the fire station – all the way across the top floor was one big room,” he said. “It had wood floors … no air conditioners. It had those roll up blinds. That was my room when we first moved in there, so with no air conditioner, I had to have windows up. For the first couple of nights, I didn’t even go to sleep because those blinds would blow. I was scared to death.”
As the only boy, Kip had his own room, while the four girls bunked together. But Stewart said there was plenty of room. Just one problem: five children, two parents and one bathroom.
“There was a bathroom downstairs for the firemen, but it had to be an emergency before we would go down there,” Stewart said.
Mourad said he remembers a gold fish pond with a weeping willow tree in the backyard and being able to ride his bicycle downtown.
“We lived on our bicycles,” he said.
And what child wouldn’t want to live in a place where you climbed stairs to get to your home and then slid down a fire pole to do it all over again.
Stewart remembers the fire alarm in the old clock on Main Street, in front of Holland-Crawford Insurance, now Under Dawgs.
“When there was a fire, Daddy would push the button at the fire station, and the alarm would sound on Main Street,” she said. “Sometimes, if the firemen didn’t get to the station on time, Daddy would pick them up on Main Street.”
Kathy Mourad Newer, who was five when the family moved there, remembers that alarm, as well.
“One of my favorite memories is the time the fire alarm kept going off,” she said. “It kept blowing over and over. We couldn’t figure out why. We found out Kim, who was little at the time, had crawled over and kept pushing the button.”
The family moved to the new fire station in the early 70’s in a property swap between the city and the Sentell family. Now Sheppard Street, the address was Dennis Street, at that time.
Capt. George Mourad retired in 1985 and he and wife, Chris moved to the family home on Todd. Christine Mourad died in 2009 and George followed in 2013.
“I guess I understand why they tore it down, but I wish they hadn’t,” all of the children said, of their original fire station home.
“It would’ve made a great museum,” Stewart added.