September 21st The Great New England Hurricane of 1938
Centerville - Looking north on Whitney Avenue, just north of School Street - CLICK ON THE PHOTO
Probably the single greatest weather event to impact Hamden in the 20th century was the Hurricane of 1938, which occurred 75 years ago this weekend. Hundreds of trees were downed and electric and telephone service was out in many areas for days, even weeks.
In all, over 682 lives were lost, mostly in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. According to author Leslie H. Tyler, who published "The New England Hurricane" (1938), "The wind velocity was officially recorded at 186 miles per hour at the Harvard Meteorological Observatory at Blue Hill . . . on the edge of the storm."
Station 4 Fifteen Years Ago - Rescue 1 - 1998 Ford 3-D
Old Whitneyville Badge a Gift to the HFRA
Dick and Joan Kennel of Marietta, Georgia were passing through Connecticut last week on their vacation. For many decades, Mr. Kennel had been in possession of badge #48 from the Whitneyville Volunteer Fire Co. No. 3. He believes the badge may have belonged to either of his two grandfathers, both of whom lived in Whitneyville and both of whom may have belonged to the fire company.
Having learned of the Hamden Fire Retirees' Association a few months earlier, and wishing to give the badge a good home, Dick and his wife Joan stopped by the HFRA secretary's home to donate the badge to our archives.
We are presently combing through our files and those of the Hamden Historical Society to find out if records of badge numbers were kept by Co. 3, and to see if Dick Kennel's grandfathers were members. Thank you, Mr. Kennel - much appreciated!
Ray's Last Day on the Line
September 1994 - Capt. Dave Johnson, Firefighters Harold Prescher, John Longo, Mark Pratt, Ray Chase and Batt. Chief Tom Doherty. This was Ray's last day on Platoon 3 before taking the position of Asst. Supt. of Alarms & Apparatus. Ray joined the Department in July 1970 and retired on July 1, 1999.
Truck 2 in 1978
Memorable First Ride on a Fire Truck 35 Years Ago
September 26, 1978 at Station 3 began with Lt. Frank Eitler temporarily assigning a recruit firefighter to Truck 2 for the day because Training Officer D/C Ken Harrington was off duty for a doctor's appointment. About ten minutes after 8 a.m. roll call a box assignment was dispatched to 10 Eleanor Street for a kitchen fire. Engines 1 and 2 responded with Rescue 2 out of Station 2.
At Station 3, Truck 2's driver and the recruit firefighter climbed aboard the 1970 Maxim aerial. "Truck 2, 10-1." It was the recruit firefighter's first ride on a piece of fire apparatus!
With lights flashing and siren blaring, Truck 2 proceeded cautiously down a very narrow Waite Street. A small line of cars was queued up at the corner of Whitney, where a Hamden police officer was directing traffic due to an earlier traffic accident. When the cop saw the ladder truck approaching, he held up his hands to stop traffic in all directions and waved Truck 2 through the intersection.
A woman heading north on Whitney said later that she didn't see the cop's hand signal to stop, and the blind corner at Waite and Whitney prevented the driver of Truck 2 from seeing the woman's '72 LeMans approaching from the south. Her car reached the intersection at the same time as Truck 2, which slammed into her right quarter panel. The LeMans spun around scaring the hell out of all involved, especially Patrolman Vic Zygmont, who narrowly avoided being hit.
Pulling to the side of the road, Truck 2's driver yanked the microphone from the dashboard bracket, "Truck 2 to Headquarters, we've been involved in a minor accident at Waite and Whitney. You'd better send Truck 1 to Eleanor Street." Fortunately, there were no injuries and the truck came through undamaged.
The driver of Truck 2 was at a loss for words. What do you say to a new firefighter taking his first ride on a fire truck when something like this happens? What can you say? Slipping the mike back onto the bracket, the driver of Truck 2 smiled at the new recruit sitting beside him and sighed, "Have you considered maybe a career in hair dressing?"
The woman driving the LeMans was cited for failing to obey a policeman's signal and not granting the right-of-way to emergency apparatus. She also was the secretary to the president of the Board of Fire Commissioners, who managed a local bank.
In 2010, the recruit firefighter completed thirty-two years with the department, retiring as a battalion chief. The driver of Truck 2 spent another twenty-plus years with the department and, in retirement, has chronicled stories such as these as your webmaster. The kitchen fire on Eleanor Street turned out to be very minor, which was good news to the recruit. It was his wife's parents' house. (You just can't make this stuff up!)
A Little Hamden History
As the driver of Truck 2 spent the rest of September 26, 1978 at the watch desk completing his accident report for Chief Leddy, a noontime news program on Channel 8 featured an interview with some members of the Branford Electric Railway Association. They were observing the 30th anniversary of the last trolley run in Connecticut, on September 26, 1948. Hmmm! The only other time a Hamden truck company was involved in an accident was in 1941 - with a trolley.
Hamden Chronicle, September 23, 1948 (Courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society)
Hamden Chronicle - September 23, 1948
1934 - A Connecticut Co. trolley at Dixwell & Pershing (William Watts photo)
1941 - Dixwell and Mather - Hamden Ladder Truck vs. Trolley