Sunday, June 29, 2008

Fire Station #2

I would spend every other week working nights at Fire Station #2 and during the days I could always get out of the house and do some kind of work. I hate to admit this but I think I might have used the church rebuilding as an excuse to get out. I give Hazel all of the credit for how our children turned out. I think that since we were unable to afford vacations, other than camping, we were closer as a family as compared to some other families. When we went camping we would always leave home before daylight on Monday and would come home after dark on Saturday night so we would never miss church on Sunday which has always been an important part of our lives. Being a fireman I had to work every other Sunday during the day. On the Sunday I had to work, I would go with the family to training union and evening services.

I consider the time I spent at Fire Station #2 as some of the best years of my life. Fire Station 2 was Charlotte's first "annexation" station. It was built to protect the first suburb - Dilworth. I had the opportunity to be of service to the people of Charlotte and being a fireman was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Riding Ladder Two was a choice that I did not have to make; I was assigned to this job from the beginning. If I had a choice that is what I would have selected. People always ask me, “How high is that one hundred foot ladder?" I would reply, “From the ground looking up it was one hundred feet to the top but on the top looking down it was five hundred feet to the ground!” Pictured is the Charlotte Fire Training Tower where men were trained to climb buildings. When the fire alarm sounded you never knew what was on the other end; sometimes we would just turn around to return to the station and other times we would be out for hours. Sometimes we would have as many as six to ten runs a night and sometimes not a single run. One thing that kept us busy was the old rock hole that was right off South Tryon Street. Being the cook for our shift, I often made my famous rock hole slum, it was a stew that when you ate it would swell up inside and you could go all night without getting hungry. Ingredients in rock hole slum: hamburger, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, pork 'n beans, tomatoes sauce, and anything else that you have in the kitchen. It seemed that no matter what else was added it would still turn out great! Sometimes we would have to stay at that old rock hole for days and nights, at a time so we could pour water on the smoldering fires.
While on the Fire Department, I would cut the firemen's hair. If a station was short a man, other stations would send an extra man. When our station had to send someone I would volunteer to go so I could give haircuts to many of the men at the other stations. They would give me fifty cents for each cut which was a way that I could make a little extra money.

Many calls and assignments seemed like a waste of time but when you were told to go, you went and did your best. There was one exception for me, not long after I became a fireman. We went on a call where there was a high voltage wire down and it was laying next to the road. It was hanging down the power pole. I was standing there with a fire ax in hand when Chief Hinson told me to go to the wire and chop it into at the pole. I did not think I could cut it into in one chop and I told him that I did not think that would be a good idea to have me do this. He said that he had chopped many wire but when I ask him to show me how I should chop it, he said he was too old to chop live wires. I surprised myself when I told him that I was too young. John Black came to my rescue! He took the ax and took a good swing at the wire. It did not cut the wire in two and ended up ruining a good fire ax. We waited for the power company to come and cut off the power. A few days later, Chief Hinson told me that since there were no lives in danger that we should not have tried to cut the power line. Listen to me tell this story.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Trip to Rochester, Minnesota

In the Spring of 1956 Hazel wanted to visit her sister Helen and her husband Carl that lived in Rochester, Minnesota. She wanted to take her Mother, Father, and younger sister Glenda to see them. Hazel, Pam, Glenn, and I made up the seven people making this long road trip. We packed the car full of about everything we had which included plenty of food since we were going to cook our meals on the way up.

We started out in the wee hours of the morning. When we reached West Virginia, we stopped at a roadside picnic table to have our breakfast. When we stopped and got out of the car, it was not long before we felt that we were about to freeze! We found that the water was not fit to drink and it tasted awfully bad. We hurried and when we finished our meal it felt so good to get back into the warm car and be back on the road. After twelve hours we arrived in Rochester and had no problems finding Helen and Carl’s house. This picture of Hazel's parents was taken at one of our stops on the way to Rochester.

On the way up I drove as fast as I could and the first morning that we were there I discovered that I had blown a head gasket on the 1952 Rambler. I took it to a dealer and got it fixed so it was back in top condition and only cost $14.00. This was the only trouble that I ever had with that car.

Carl was still in the army and his job was recruiting so after work he was able to come home for the evenings. We had a great four-day visit. We all agreed that the trip home was much better that the one going up. Part of that was knowing that we were going to be home and would be able to sleep in our own bed that night after the long trip.

We enjoyed making the trip in the 52 Rambler, later on I sold it to Fred Jr. and bought a brand new1959 Rambler station wagon which cost me $2400.00; I drove until 1968. Listen as I tell this story.