The occasion was Ff. Sam Jones' birthday. Ff. Roger Sullivan, still working on his piece of cake, is sitting at left. Nestled together snuggly on the "love seat," Lt. Dave Strawhince, Ff. Harold Mangler and Lt. Eddie Badamo hammed it up for photographer Shirley Mangler while they eagerly awaited the arrival of the night shift.
We have good reason to believe that Sam is probably the guy whose legs are stretched out at the right. Great photo!
CLICK to enlarge
65 Years Ago
Shirley Mangler took this great photo of Lieut. Howie Hurlburt, Jr. as Platoon 3 was picking up following a house fire on Hepburn Road in May 1991. Behind Howie is Ff. Ernie Braun.
Shirley took about a dozen other photos of this incident, which will be posted in the future.
Howie was on the job from July 1970 until he retired in the mid-1990s. He passed away in Arkansas last November at age 65.
The practice of appointing "substitute firemen" began in the 1930s, perhaps earlier, and continued until the early 1960s. Subs could be called to fill in whenever there was a shortage of regular personnel in the days when there was no overtime hiring due to personnel shortages. Many of the substitutes went on to become regular members of the career department.
This brief article appeared in the November 23, 1950 edition of The Hamden Chronicle. The Hamden Board of Fire Commissioners had just appointed fourteen substitutes, six of whom went on to become members of the career department. These included Michael "Mickey" Cantarella (1951-69), Joseph T. Collins (1951-57), Joseph McDermott (1953-1991), Frederick Knudsen (1951-86), Fiore "Frank" Cubbellotti (1951-1979), and John O'Hare (1953-1991).
A familiar HFD surname can be seen among this list of subs. Daniel C. Mordecai was the uncle of retired Lieutenants Jack and Bob Mordecai, great-uncle of active Firefighter Mike Mordecai. Bob Mordecai was not aware that his uncle had ever been a fire department substitute. He noted that his uncle pursued a career with the postal department as a mail carrier. Sadly, Daniel Mordecai died very young, in 1954.
The Dextone Company
1335 Dixwell Avenue
Thursday, August 25, 1932
82 years ago this week a massive fire struck the Dextone Cement Comany, located at 1335 Dixwell Avenue. The blaze, of unknown origin, resulted in an estimated $150,000 in damages (over $2.5 million in today's dollars). The business was located on the east side of Dixwell Avenue, between Newton and Collins Streets.
The fire was apparently first noticed by personnel at the Acme Wire Company, located just south of Dextone, because they began sounding their factory whistle. This caught the attention of two Dextone night watchmen who investigated and found the rear of their building already well involved.
At 10:45 p.m. someone pulled Box 47 at the corner of Dixwell and Putnam. According to the HFD logbook of responses (1931-40), seventy-nine members of seven volunteer fire companies responded. All fire apparatus cleared by 4:30 the following morning. Several firefighter injuries were reported, one requiring hospitalization.
An August 28, 1952 Hamden Chronicle article commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Dextone blaze (see below) provides additional details of that conflagration, as well as other notable Hamden fires of the first half of the 20th century.
CLICK ON ARTICLE BELOW TO ENLARGE FOR EASIER READING
CLICK to enlarge for easier reading (Courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society)
Entry in the Hamden Fire Department Response Logbook - August 1932 (CLICK to enlarge)
NOTE: To maintain the accuracy of historical information for future researchers, the above image of the 1952 Chronicle article has been modified to correct several factual errors.
Furthermore, in the article's second paragraph, the dollar loss in a July 1923 fire in a smelting plant off State Street was cited as $250,000, Hamden's worst dollar loss in a fire. However, a 1934 account of Hamden's worst fires (image below), authored by three prominent Hamden fire officials, gave the estimated loss in the 1923 fire as $25,000.
More research is needed, of course, but if the $25,000 loss amount for the 1923 fire is correct, then the Dextone fire loss of $160,500 ($2,560,000.00+ in today's dollars) is, in fact, the heaviest financial loss in any Hamden fire to date.
From the June 10, 1934 program for the Second Annual Hamden Firemen's Memorial Service
1337 Dixwell Avenue today (Vision Appraisal)
1934 - Site of Dextone Co. two years after the fire (CLICK to enlarge) - From the State of Connecticut Digital Collection