As the East Coast braces for a possible visit from Hurricane Joachin,
the website takes another look at the aftermath of Hurricane Gloria,
thirty years ago this past week.
30 Years Ago - AFTERMATH!
Hurricane Gloria did pack a punch, although it could have been a lot worse. The Hamden Chronicle reported that the fire department handled 97 calls during the twelve hours of the storm, none of them serious. Things got more serious the next day, however, when candles used for illumination sparked a working house fire on Lakeview Avenue.
One aspect of the hurricane most of us recall was that once the "eye" of the storm passed over the area, there was no more storm. This came as a relief to all because the real punch of a hurricane usually occurs oncethe eye passes over and the wind shifts to the opposite direction.
Dep. Chief Walt Macdowall gave the storm an "8" on a scale of 10, but Housing Commissioner Charles Aitro said that the storm was a "creampuff" compared with the legendary Hurricane of 1938. The fact is, history seems to confirm that while the 1938 hurricane was the most damaging and deadly weather event for New England, it was the hurricane of November 1950 that did more damage in the Town of Hamden.
The Hamden Chronicle, Wednesday, October 2, 1985 (Miller Library Microfilm Collection)
The naming of hurricanes began in 1954, sixteen years after the most devastating hurricane to hit New England in the 20th century. Another hurricane actually did more damage to Hamden in 1950, although the 1950 storm was not nearly as devastating overall as the '38 storm. The last official hurricane to hit Hamden with significant damage was Gloria, in 1985.
New England Hurricane of 1938
Damage in Hamden
but much worse east of the area
Hurricane of November 1950
Hamden hit as bad as,
or worse than '38
Dixwell Avenue near Skiff - CLICK to view more Hamden photos of the '38 Hurricane
Whitney Avenue where Whitney Manor Convalescent Home stands today - CLICK to view Hamden photos of the '50 Hurricane
This is the earliest known news photo of the department welcoming new firefighters, seven in all. Two new company officers, Lt. Emil Strain and Lt. Dan Hume, were also reported.
Two of 1950's newest firefighters are still with us sixty-five years later. One of them, Richie Lostritto, retired thirty years ago as the deparrtment's Supt. of Alarms & Apparatus. He is an active member of the HFRA. The other is Bill Bossoli (96), who served on the departmenrt for about six years before going into private industry. Richie and Bill both attended the Centennial Reunion of the Mt. Carmel Volunteer Fire Co. in 2011.
This may be the last time the department conducted its annual Fire Prevention Week parade. Most of the department's apparatus is pictured here staged in the parking area of the Stop & Shop-Bradlees warehouse adjacent to St. Ann's Church at Dixwell and Arch.
To call attention to Fire Prevention Week each year, the apparatus formed a convoy in the south end of Hamden. Parading north on Dixwell Avenue to the Town Hall, the convoy of apparatus would turn left on Whitney Avenue, then proceed north to the Cheshire line. Local news photographer I.A. Sneiderman shot this photo, which is dated October 4, 1965.
October 4, 1965 - CLICK to enlarge (Photo by I.A. Sneiderman)
A good enlargement of this photo and a powerful magnifying glass permitted the identification of all the career personnel, who are all wearing their dress blues. CLICK on the photo for a larger view.
There are twelve HFD vehicles in this photo. Left to right: 1952 Dodge utility truck (Repair Shop), 1938 Diamond-T (Vol. Co. 9), 1958 Maxim 75' "Junior" Aerial (Ladder 1), 1939 Diamond-T (Vol. Co. 7), 1935 Dodge Bros. brush truck (Vol. Co. 7), 1958 International Travel-al (Rescue 1), 1959 Maxim (Engine 2), 1952 Maxim (Engine 5), 1951 Maxim (Engine 6), 1960 International Travel-al (Rescue 2), 1965 Mack (Engine 4) and 1954 Maxim (Engine 3).
Fire apparatus missing from the photo are the 1938 Seagrave (Engine 1 - spare), the 1942 Diamond-T 500 GPM (Vol. Co. 8), and the 1942 Diamond-T 600 GPM (Spare), as well as all staff vehicles.
October 4, 1965 - CLICK to enlarge (Photo by I.A. Sneiderman)
Taken on the same day as the photo above, department officers acknowledge Hamden youngsters who, it appears, may have won some sort of Fire Prevention poster contest. Left to right are Lt. Bill Hines, Deputy Chief Everett Doherty, Lt. Dan O'Connell, Chief V. Paul Leddy and Deputy Chief Dan Hume.
In the background in the white shirt, between Lt. O'Connell and Chief Leddy, is Co. 7's Erwin "Jim" Wetmore, who remains active in Co. 7 to this day. Somewhat obscured by the poster in Hume's hands is Jim's brother and future chief of the department, Ff. Paul Wetmore, Sr. Others to the right of Hume are Firefighters Frank Cubbellotti, Art Heriot and Joe Rahl.
Missing from these photos are Capt. Bob "Bubby" O'Donnell and Firefighters Johnny Hoffman, John O'Hare, Fred Fletcher and Charlie Esposito, the remaining members of Platoon 2 in 1965. They were undoubtedly manning spare engines at Station 2 and Headquarters.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 4th at the Irish-American Community Center, East Haven
Helping Allison Stratton and her family with strong local fire service ties . . .
Hamden Fire Marshal Brian Dolan contacted us recently. "I am looking for help for a family member and hopeful that members of Hamden FD can help out. My cousin, Allison Stratton, was afflicted by a severe heart and nervous system virus last October. She was literally healthy one day, Life-Stared to the hospital the next, and on life-support for over a week.
Allison was able to fight through the virus and survived. She is now paralyzed, with a spinal cord injury, and is wheelchair bound as a result of the illness. She is married with two young children."
Brian noted that Allison was born and raised in Hamden. Her father, Phil Stratton, is a retired New Haven firefighter. Brian is trying to raise as much money as possible for Allison and her family, which has growing financial concerns as a result of her illness and physical limitations.
"The family suddenly went from two incomes to one. Their house now requires many renovations to make it handicap accessible."
Donations can be made payable to the “Allison Stratton-Peterson Fund.”