Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Fire Department

I have previously mentioned the firehouse, but this section looks at the firemen themselves. These were the fellows who took care of the firehouse, the fire trucks, and actually headed out to extinguish any fires that managed to get started in town. It was very rare, during my era, to have anything burn other than some woods, a vacant field, or just untamed brush that lined the streets of town, River Vale Road in particular. People who travelled through town, especially on weekends, would occasionally throw cigarette butts out of their car windows and in short order we would have a brush fire somewhere in town. The big noisy horn on top of the firehouse would blast out the coded signal as to the location of the fire. This could be heard from one end of town to the other end. All the kids in town (about 8-10 of us) would immediately jump on our bikes and head for the fire. Some of us would get to the fire before or about the same time as the fire department.

The first thing we would look for as we approached the fire trucks would be to see who was left at the truck to be on duty there. We would hope that it would be our good friend Nick Dobroslovich. Good-natured Nick would always be willing to give us equipment to assist in putting out the fire, such as a broom or on a real good day he would give us portable "Indian Tanks" which were water spraying tanks that went on your back. This was total delight, to be able to play with water and fire at the same time. We could get into the fire and help the couple of firemen put out this pesky brush fire. Most of the firemen didn't seem to care if we were there or not, but one fellow in particular would attempt to scold Nick for giving us this equipment. Nick would, in his nice way, laugh and pay no attention to this fellow, who would go away grumbling. Which is what he did about most things anyway.

I remember one other scrap drive also in the early days of the war. This was a paper drive that the town organized and someone's personal dump truck was used to pick up the paper. While the truck was traveling along Westwood Avenue, it decided to dump it's load of papers and teenage boys onto the hard Westwood Avenue pavement. There was lots of paper and kids lying all over the place for awhile, but everyone and everything got picked up and all it cost anyone was several yards of bandage, and, I imagine, a good supply of Vaseline and a bit of iodine. The paper drive continued... No yelling, no lawsuits. Things were different back then!

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