Hamden Fire Department and HFRA chaplain, Rev. Owen ("the Rev") Sanderson will receive a special recognition award from the Knights of St. Patrick at their 41st annual Public Safety Dinner TONIGHT, October 28th at the Grand Hall of the Knights of St. Patrick, 1533 State Street from 6 until 9 p.m. $40 - Buffet - Open Bar. Tickets may be purchased at the door. (See poster below)
The website wishes Hamden fire retiree John O'Hare a happy 90th birthday today. John served on the department from November 1953 until October 1991, when he reached the mandatory retirement age. He has been an active member of the HFRA since it was organized and has conributed numerous photos and memorabilia to the archives.
During his thirty-eight years on the job, John led numerous off-duty department activities. From the 1950s until the early 1980s, John was coach of one of the department's softball teams, in later years as either catcher or pitcher. In the early 1960s, he chaired several annual balls. In the 1970s, John was the toastmaster at all the annual dinners before Mark Pratt took over the job.
October 1991 - Station 9 - Last day on the job
John recently commented on his first day on the job. Walking into Station 2 that first day in 1953, recruit firefighter O'Hare didn't know anyone and no one knew him. Firefighter Art Smith was sitting at the watch desk. Smith looked up. "May I help you, sir?"
O'Hare told Smith he was the new fireman. "You want Lieutenant Hume," barked Smith as he pointed toward the kitchen. "He's in there." Reflecting on that snapshot moment, John chuckled and said that it was the only time in his 38 years on the department that anyone called him "sir."
Any memorable moments? Too many to count. John's good friend was Art Heriot, truly one-of-a-kind. John and Art worked together at old Station 3 on Putnam Avenue. One day for a change of pace, John strolled from the fire station up to the little luncheonette a few doors away to get something for lunch. There were no portable radios in those days, but if there was an alarm he'd hear the siren signalling him to rush back.
While staring down at the array of meats in the deli case, John heard a familar voice from over the counter. "Can I help you?" John looked up. Behind the deli counter wearing an apron was none other than Art Heriot.
"What the hell are you doing here?" asked John.
Art replied, "I always help out here during lunchtime." That was Art.
John loves to tell the story of the annoying guy - not a firemen - he knew from his part time job. We'll call him "Bob." Bob enjoyed pestering John to find out where he lived, something John was not about to reveal.
One day, Bob called the firehouse. John was on vacation. He got Art Heriot instead.
A few days later Bob ran into O'Hare at his part time job. "Aha," he declared, "I called the firehouse, John. Now I know where you live!"
John just stared nervously at the guy. "Really?"
"I know for a fact," Bob continued, "that you live on the first floor of the Mary Wade Home."
O'Hare just shook his head laughing, "I know who you've been talking to."
This late-1950s benefit softball game between Hamdenfire and police. L-R: O'Hare and B/C Everett Doherty from the HFD. Dan Liston, Chief Bob Thatcher and Jack Sarracco from the HPD.
Hamden's 1952 Maxim was the HFD entry in the 1953 Connecticut State Firemen's Association Convention Parade at Plainville. This photo by Chan Brainard shows the pumper leaving the staging area as it prepares for the start of the parade.
April 1988 - Firefighter Donnie Buechele is shown here checking "the box" on Hamden's newest Rescue 1, on a 1988 GMC chassis, which was just placed in service. The Superior Shoe Repair building in the background on the east side of Whitney Avenue (formerly Berman's Cleaners) was torn down several years ago. (Photo by Ed Doiron, Jr.) CLICK to enlarge
1974 - Behind Station 5, Training Officer, D/C Kenneth Harrington, observes [what appears to be] Ff. Carmen Amarante, as he prepares to force open the driver's door on another firefighter's donated 1963 Ford Fairlane. Before the days of the Hurst Tool, the department used a hand-pumped hydraulic tool. The firefighters in the background are Dennis Cosgrove, Tom Mikolinski and Bob Viglione. (Photo by Ed Doiron, Sr.) CLICK to enlarge
1924 - Whitney and Dixwell (Photo courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society)
Trolley tracks, gas street lamps and on street parking were all in full view as the cameraman shot this 1924 photo at Whitney and Dixwell Avenues. Hamden's new Memorial Town Hall at left is still under construction, as evidenced by the scaffolding. It opened in February 1925.
The original town hall, completed in 1888, was only 36 years old when it was torn down to make way for the much larger edifice that took its place. The small Centerville fire station, constructed in 1907, was also razed for the project.
The Malovolti Building, the former Sackett Hotel, (far right) opposite the town hall on the northeast corner of Whitney and Dixwell, was razed after being gutted by fire in February 1941. The site remained vacant until the Brown Stone House Restaurant was built in 1949. Note the ancient gas lit street lamp on the corner. The trolley tracks disappeared in 1937 when Whitney Avenue was repaved in concrete.
The building immediately north of the town hall was finally razed in April 2013, but the brick building right across the street and the wood frame building just north of it still stand.
At the recent HFRA meeting, retirees Mark Pratt donated to the Association archives several items from his personal collection of fire service memorabilia. Included was this medal, produced in 1993 "to commemorate Benjamin Franklin's contributions to the American Fire Service and to recognize the achievements and needs of America's fire services."
Struck at the Philadelphia mint, the Franklin medal was issued in both proof and uncirculated varieties. This coin is the proof version.
The medal is slightly larger than a commemorative silver dollar at 1.598 inches in diameter vs. 1.50 inches. Each medal contains one full troy ounce of silver (0.999 fine) vs. a standard U.S. silver dollar which contains 0.77345 ounces of silver (0.900 fine).