Something for everyone this week, thanks to Chan Brainard!
This week's website update features several previously unpublished photos by Honorary HFRA Member and longtime friend of the Hamden Fire Department, Chandler Brainard. Chan grew up in Hamden and has preserved many department activities through his collection of remarkable photographs taken over the past 60-plus years, many of which are already a part of this website (and many more have yet to be published).
Chan now lives in Signal Hill, Califiornia and is still avidly interested in department activities. He visits the Hamden area every now and then. The next time Chan's in town we'll bring him around to meet the troops.
Photo by Chan Brainard
c. 1964 - A first glance, it looks like Lt. Joe McDermott is marching alone between two files of Hamden fire apparatus, while Firefighter Howie Hurlburt, Sr. watches from the running board of the 1958 Maxim aerial ladder truck. Actually, the apparatus was staging on Dixwell Avenue near the corner of Scott Street in preparation for Hamden's annual parade of fire apparatus at the start of Fire Prevention Week. Joe was the company officer of Engine 3, the 1954 Maxim right behind him, and he was apparently walking on ahead, perhaps to impart or receive some last minute instructions before heading out with the procession.
Each year on the first Sunday of October, Hamden’s fire apparatus convoyed up Dixwell to Whitney, then north to the Cheshire line. Kids of all ages would line the route to watch Hamden’s engines, rescues and ladder truck pass by.
Joe McDermott joined the department in 1953, made Lieutenant in late 1963, Captain in 1970, and Deputy Chief (now B/C) in 1973. Considered by his men to be a firefighter’s firefighter, Joe retired in 1991 and now lives in Branford with his wife, Helen. He has attended several HFRA meetings.
This October 1961 newspaper photo shows Hamden's apparatus ready to roll for the annual Fire Prevention Week apparatus parade. Note the brand new 1961 Ford deputy chiefs' car in the middle. The '56 black Pontiac, driven by Chief V. Paul Leddy, was a holdover from Chief Spencer. It would be replaced in early '62 by a new Rambler sedan. The red and white 1957 Ford was assigned to the Marshal. (Article courtesy of Chan Brainard)
This August 2001 photo by Chan Brainard shows the crew of Tower 1 going through the paces on its first day on. Firefighter John Longo is at the controls with two unidentified firefighters in the bucket. At the time of this photo, this Tower 1 was at the halfway point in its service to Hamden. Costing more than $500K when new in 1991, it was sold last year to an out of state fire department when the new Smeal Tower 1 was placed in service.
And now, for something completely different . . .
For the "sparks" among us: In February 1989, Chan Brainard snapped this photo of a 1919 American-LaFrance Type 31 aerial ladder truck with a rear steer feature, originally in service at Danville, Illinois. The rig was on display at the Hall of Flame Museum of fire apparatus in Phoenix, Arizona.
Straight-frame tiller trucks were fairly rare. Coordination between the front and rear drivers was an absolute must. The last ones were manufactured in the early 1930s. New Haven had a couple of these trucks, but a 1937 accident injured several firefighters responding to a call when the tillerman on Truck 4 inadvertently steered the entire rig out of control and it flipped over.
Tractor-trailer tiller aerial trucks, still manufactured, cannot be steered off course by the tillerman, but the direction of a straight-frame rig could be controlled by the operator of either the front or the rear steering wheel.
Brock-Hall Dairy, 1204 Whitney Avenue - Then and Now
CLICK to enlarge either photo.
July 11, 1978 - Brock-Hall Dairy, 1204 Whitney Avenue
Identical view 34 years later - ALL GONE!
The old Brock-Hall Dairy building at 1204 Whitney Avenue appears to be boarded up in this July 11, 1978 photo that was shot at the same time as the photo of the Whitney Theater that was posted last week. The same view 34 years later is devoid of any buildings, just trees. A five-story condominium building was constructed further back off Whitney Avenue at the same address in 1985.
Messrs. Brock and Hall were influential members of the Whitneyville Volunteer Fire Association from its inception in 1910. While the new Putnam Avenue firehouse was under construction from October 1926 until May of 1927, Co. 3's apparatus was housed at the home of H.F. Hall at 116 Putnam Avenue. From the Station 3 Log Book (1926-1947): "We moved our [1910 Locomobile and 1915 Maxim] from the old Fire house to H.F. Hall's garage on Thursday Nov. 18, 1926. Was moved back to New quaters (sic) Saturday May 15, 1927." Ironically, during that same period of time, on April 24, 1927, a fire did $33,500 in damages to the dairy's garage.
The gasoline shortage during World War II required the dairy to employ horse drawn milk wagons once again for home deliveries in the Whitneyville area, a practice that remained in effect for a couple of years after the war. The Brock-Hall dairy ceased operations in the late 1970s and the building was razed shortly thereafter.