The website has been informed that veteran Hamden Fire Department officer, Lt. Gary Merwede, has been named by Mayor Scott Jackson to replace Deputy Chief Robert Surprise, who retired two months ago after 33 years of service. Merwede, who is in his 20th year with the department, is scheduled to be sworn in at 11:00 a.m. this coming Tuesday, January 21st in the rotunda of Hamden Memorial Town Hall. As Deputy Fire Chief, Merwede will be second in command of the department, which is headed by Chief David Berardesca. More details will be posted here as they become available.
The members of the HFRA wish Deputy Chief Merwede all the very best in his new assignment!
40 Years Ago
January 17, 1974 - HFD Goes Diesel
The New Haven Register, Thursday, January 17, 1974 (Courtesy of Gil Spencer)
57 Years Ago
Firefighters Saved a Classic Hamden Eatery from an Early Demise
Only those Hamden folks who are nearing or in full-blown geezerhood will remember the "Dairy Isle," a Carvel/Dairy-Queen type of "take-out" ice cream establishment that was situated on the west side of Whitney Avenue just north of Lincoln Street. But most Hamden folks today are quite familiar with the Glenwood Drive-In, which is what opened there in 1955 when the Dairy Isle went under.
The original Glenwood stood just a few feet south of the present building. In January 1965, the old building was torn down following the construction of a more modern fully-enclosed building, which has greatly expanded since. But the razing of the old building might have occured a lot sooner had it not been for a rapid response by Hamden firefighters eight years earlier.
On Wednesday, January 23, 1957, an early morning fire at the Glenwood did considerable damage to a storage room. Fortunately, Hamden firefighters intervened quickly and the Glenwood survived with little structural damage. Well known throughout Connecticut and the northeast, this Hamden treasure will celebrate its 60th anniversary next year.
The New Haven Evening Register, Wednesday, January 23, 1957 (Courtesy of Chan Brainard)
The Glenwood Drive-In Today
Having opened in 1955, the Glenwood predates Hamden's first McDonald's, which is one of the oldest in the northeast. The Glenwood Drive-in has been serving what many consider to be the best hamburgers, hotdogs, seafood, fries and rings anywhere.
The scan of a microfilm printout at left is from the January 28, 1965 edition of The Hamden Chronicle (courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society).
Despite entirely different circumstances surrounding the old Glenwood's demolition, the caption, "ANOTHER HAMDEN RESTAURANT BITES THE DUST," lumps its disappearance in with the Weather Vane and Reilly's restaurants, both of which were destroyed by fire within the previous month.
In the news photo at left, the "new" Glenwood can be seen in the background as the old building "bites the dust." The roofline of the newer building has been modified in recent years.
70 Years Ago
The New Haven Evening Register, Tuesday, January 21, 1944 (Courtesy of the James Strain family and the Hamden Historical Society)
Seventy years ago this week the Hamden Board of Selectmen named Capt. Albert Purce as Hamden's fire marshal in addition to his full time duties as shift commander of one of two platoons of Hamden career fire personnel.
It would be almost five more years before Purce would come off the line to perform his marshal duties full time.
Commissioners Al Ruwet and Tom Miller are pictured above with Chief Charles Loller next to the department's new Diamond-T 500 GPM pumper, manufactured by Woods Engineering Services of Topsfield, Massachusetts and delivered on June 13, 1939.
This pumper was assigned to Headquarters (Station 4) and designated as Engine 4 until October 1954, when it was transferred to Station 6. With the shuffling of pumpers following the 1959 delivery of the Maxim "cab-forward," the 1939 Diamond-T was assigned to Volunteer Co. 7. It was auctioned off, minus the dedication plaque, to a private buyer in February 1977 and is believed to be still around (somewhere).