Five Honored at Local 2687 Annual Retirement Dinner
Approximately twenty-five Hamden Fire Department retirees, many accompanied by their wives, attended Local 2687's Annual Retirement Dinner last Saturday night at the popular Country House in Foxon. Five retirees representing 120 years of service were honored at the dinner. The members of the HFRA wish Marshal Dennis Harrison, Supt. Don Buchele, Lt. Dave Proux, Lt. Brian Bird and Ff. Ron Mikolinski each a long, happy and healthy retirement.
Fifteen-year veteran Hamden Firefighter Ralph Difonzo, Jr. was joined by many of his colleagues in the rotunda of Hamden's Memorial Town Hall last Friday to witness the swearing-in of his son, Ralph III, as Hamden's newest firefighter. The HFRA wishes Probationary Ff. Ralph Difonzo III a long, productive and safe career with the HFD!
Deputy Chief Gary Merwede, Firefighters Ralph DiFonzo, Sr. and Ralph DiFonzo, Jr. and Chief David Berardesca
(Photo by Ff. Kevin Shields)
40 Years Ago
Station 5 Annex Groundbreaking Ceremony
Before the annex
On Sunday, March 16, 1975, a couple of dozen members of the Mt. Carmel Volunteer Fire Company were joined by Chief V. Paul Leddy and Hamden Mayor Lucien DiMeo to break ground on an annex to the fifty-year old fire station.
By 1975, the largest and newest Hamden fire apparatus that would fit inside the original station was the 1954 Maxim. The proposed building annex, constructed on a concrete slab, would be capable of housing the largest fire apparatus available at the time, providing Mt. Carmel with a fire station for many years to come.
Plans for the annex, begun the previous summer, hinged on a land swap with Hamden's Board of Education. In order to widen the property frontage sufficiently to accommodate the new annex, the fire company traded a large parcel of land at the rear of their lot for a ten foot strip of the old Mt. Carmel School parking lot.
Sunday, March 16, 1975 (Photo by William Olesen)
In the center of the photo, Mayor Lucien DiMeo (in dark coat) and Chief V. Paul Leddy are flanked by over twenty regular and auxiliary members of the Mt. Carmel Volunteer Fire company, some of whom were also regular members of the career department. The fellow in the red Co. 5 jacket is Firefighter Fred Fletcher, who joined the department in 1946 and served at Station 5 for many years on "old" Platoon 2 and "new" Platoon 4.
The older gentleman holding what appears to be the shovel handle is Co. 5 President Raymond K. Spencer, who was then in his 50th year as a Co. 5 member, and in whose name the annex was re-dedicated in 2011 during the company's centennial observance. The Station 5 annex was completed during the spring and summer and dedicated on September 4th.
To this day, Station 5's Raymond K. Spencer Memorial Annex remains the most recent new construction to accommodate Hamden career fire apparatus. The newest free-standing fire station is Station 3, at Ridge and Hartford Turnpike, dedicated November 1, 1970.
Sunday, March 16, 1975
Groundbreaking in the morning - Parade in the afternoon!
HFD contingent joins in a classic and wonderful New Haven tradition.
Former Co. 5 Capt. Don Steele and Hamden Mayor Lucien DiMeo
New Haven's 1975 St. Patrick's Day Parade
Parade photographs by Patricia Doiron, courtesy of Ed Doiron Jr.
CLICK on either photo to enlarge.
Eddy & Tony last Saturday night
About two hours after the groundbreaking ceremony, Mayor Lucien DiMeo accompanied Co. 5 members marching in New Haven's Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade, pictured above.
The women guarding the colors and holding the company banner were members of the company's ladies' auxiliary.
The two flags bearers were career firefighters Eddy Doiron and Tony "Moonman" Melillo, who were also members of the fire company. Nicknamed by his fellow firefighters, Tony was and still is an avid amateur astronomer. He was often observed at night behind his telescope viewing the heavens in the rear yard of Station 5, where he and Eddy were both assigned on Platoon 2.
(This brings to mind some old stories of other firehouses where folks supposedly employed visual magnification devices to observe objects from afar. But those heavenly bodies were a lot closer to the ground.)
Retired since 1996, Tony now lives high atop a mountain in northern New Hampshire, where his view of the universe is relatively unobstructed.
100 Years Ago - March 18, 1915
Mother association of the North Hamden Volunteer Fire Company
initiates protest meeting over proposed Hamden telephone exchange
As mentioned in last week's article on HFD telephone numbers, Hamden's first telephone exchange was established in 1915. Previously, all Hamden telephone subscribers were served by the New Haven exchange, where calls to and from Hamden, Woodbridge, North Haven or Bethany were toll-free. In the newly proposed Hamden telephone exhange, however, all out-of-town calls into and out of Hamden would cost callers five cents each.
"Do you think this is fair to our town?"
Members of the North Hamden Improvement Society, which organized a second Mt. Carmel volunteer fire company up near Sleeping Giant, distributed a leaflet dated March 12, 1915 announcing a March 18th protest meeting at the town hall.
"Do you know [the New Haven grocer] can call a gardener who lives in North Haven, Woodbridge or Bethany, without extra charge? Do you think he will pay to call you or will call where he can get the same results without extra charge?"
One hundred years ago, a home telephone was an extravagance few could afford. But a telephone was really a necessity if you owned a business. Five-cent calls to and from neighboring communities represented a substantial hike and would certainly discourage out-of-town customers from calling Hamden businesses.
Check out the leaflet by CLICKing on the image. They made some good points.
CLICK to enlarge (Courtesy of Mary Jane McGaffin)
Courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society
On March 18, 1915, the meeting to protest the proposed Hamden telephone exchange was held in Hamden's old town hall, which was erected in 1888. Over the years the building began to settle and walls began to crack. It was finally razed in 1924 for construction of the present Memorial Town Hall.
Brooksvale Park 1962 - Here's a nice shot of the first Rescue 2, a 1960 International Travel-al, in service at Station 4 from February 9, 1960 until November 4, 1971. Rescue 1, a virtually identical 1958 model, was stationed at Whitneyville.
Before officers were assigned to Mt. Carmel and West Woods, when Engine 5 or Engine 9 was dispatched on a still alarm the rescue at Station 4 would also respond with the Co. 4 officer as the rider.
The second Rescue 2, with a modular body on a 1975 Ford chassis, was placed in service at Station 2 in April 1976.
107 Harrison Drive last Wednesday morning. No one was hurt.