This podcast episode, One Fireman’s Story, discusses the deadly Golden Pheasant Fire of 1964 and it recites the letter from the Terrie Pinkerton who donated to the Dallas Firefighter’s Museum the strap pictured above which is related to that fire.
One Fireman’s Story
Ronald J. Pinkerton served on the Dallas Fire Department for 35 years. He fought many fires, but there was one fire in particular that haunted him his entire life, the Golden Pheasant restaurant fire on February 16, 1964.
Four firemen lost their lives that day and ten children lost their fathers. Jerry Henderson was one of the firemen who perished, and he was the father of five children. Ronald Pinkerton was one of the firemen who helped to bring Henderson’s body out of the rubble that day. We only know of his version of the story as it was told to his oldest granddaughter about two months before he passed away, and he wept when he told it. Pinkerton told his family many fireman stories over the years, but he never told any of them the story about Henderson’s helmt strap. We think he felt a connection to Henderson because Pinkerton himself had four young children at the time of the fire.
The item you see is the helmet strap my father, Ronald Pinkerton cut from Jerry Henderson when they removed his body from the debris of the Golden Pheasant fire. He stated he does not know why he did it, but he kept it for the rest of his life. I am guessing that he told my daughter the story knowing we would find it someday, and I did.
At the request of the Henderson family, we are honored to leave the strap in the care of the Dallas Firefighter’s Museum. We express our deep gratitude to Elaine Maddox, Dallas Fire & Rescue Chaplain, for helping us to make this happen. Captain Pinkerton shared the story with Elaine in 1995 which she told us about while planning his funeral services. He passed away on November 16, 2014.
Jerry Henderson and Ronald Pinkerton did not even know each other.
By: Terrie Pinkerton, Captain Ronald Pinkerton’s oldest daughter
I would like to add that the Dallas Firefighter’s Museum has a new display dedicated to those lost in the Golden Pheasant Fire and that display includes this shadow box. Although the museum remains closed due to Covid-19 at the time of this post (December 2020), you are invited to come see it when the museum re-opens.
Below are photographs from the scene of the fatal fire.