We deeply regret to announce the passing of our brother retiree and HFRA member Sam Jones on Thursday, October 29th, in Knoxville, Tennessse, with his wife, Elaine, and son, Ken, by his side. Sam's 90th birthday would have been two days ago, on November 4th.
Samuel Augustus Jones joined the Hamden Fire Department in May 1961, the department's first African-American career member. Following his appointment, Sam was assigned on old Platoon 3. When the 42-hour work-week was adopted in 1970, Sam was assigned to Platoon 4 until his retirement twenty-five years ago this month. Sam will be remembered as a fine firefighter - and an amazing chess player.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Sam's wife, Elaine, his son, East Point [Georgia] Firefighter Ken Jones, and the rest of Sam's family.
Sam's funeral, scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday), is in the care of the Unity Mortuary of Knoxville, TN.
The appointment of Samuel Augustus Jones to the Hamden Fire Department in May 1961 was a very big deal (see the news article below). Not only was Jones one of Hamden's first college educated career firefighters, he also was Hamden's first African-American to serve on the Hamden Fire Department.
Compared with today, and in the context of civil rights progress, 1961 was eons ago. Yet Jones' son, Ken, an East Point, Georgia career firefighter, recently noted that, like all new guys on the job, his dad was unconditionally accepted by his fellow firefighters. He told his son that he never experienced any harrasment or animosity.
Sam Jones served from May 8, 1961 until his retirement on November 30, 1990. He passed away just over a week ago, on October 29th, only six days shy of his 90th birthday.
Sam's son, Ken, is an East Point [GA] career firefighter.
Sam Jones remained Hamden's sole minority career firefighter until the 1978 appointment of Firefighter Wayne Lowry. Now, fifty-four years after Jones joined the Hamden Fire Department, minority personnel comprise approximately 14% of Hamden's line firefighting forces.
The New Haven Register, May 9, 1961 (Courtesy of Jones and Trower Families)
When the lights went out all over the northeast on November 9, 1965, the event became one of life's "snapshot" moments that is so memorable that you will never forget what you were doing when it happened. Platoon 2 was just about to end the day shift when the lights began to flicker. At around 5:20 in the afternoon the entire electrical grid in the northeastern U.S. and part of Canada went dark, although the were some rare exceptions (like the city of New Haven).
According to The Hamden Chronicle (see below), the loss of power caused a fire alarm malfunction at Sacred Heart Academy on Benham Street, resulting in the dispatch of Engine 4 and Rescue 2 out of Station 4. That was apparently the only fire department incident recorded during the outage, which only lasted about two hours in Hamden, but as long as thirteen hours in the New York City area.
CLICK ON THE NEWS ARTICLE TO ENLARGE
The above article notes, "Though unable to serve hot food, the Friendly Store nearby [in the Hamden Mart] plied a number of customers with ice cream and cold orders." If you were looking for some great hot food that night you could have gone to the Glenwood, as did the author and his brother. They were open during the blackout, preparing their famous dogs and burgers on their gas fed grille for scores of customers.
Less than two years later another Friendly's would open directly across from "the 'wood," but it closed on March 26, 2000. The Glenwood is still going strong after 60 years in business.
Here is a "new" photo of the Humphrey company's new ladder wagon, purchased in 1908. What makes this photo especially significant is that the wagon is parked in front of the barn that was the Humphrey Athletic Club, their first quarters.
Photo from the archives of the Humphrey Volunteer Fire Association, courtesy of D/C Gary Merwede
From the minutes of regular meeting of the Hunphrey Hook & Ladder Fire Association held on July 10, 1908, "Mr. Flight reported the order for the wagon had been placed with Mr. Lewis. Wagon to be grey with gold lettering, 2 brass lanterns, 1 - 24 ft., 2 - 12 ft., and 1 9 ft. ladders, brass railing run all around the wagon. $75 was ordered paid as 25% of the payment of the wagon."
The $300.00 wagon was delivered on November 27, 1908. It is configured to be horse drawn (note the driver's perch), but anecdotal accounts from oldtimers indicate that all non-motorized Hamden fire apparatus were hand-drawn.
The fourth of seven images from the mid-1960s Maxim fire apparatus catalog is an "open" version of the S model Maxim pumper featured on the website three weeks ago. This pumper has the same "nose" as Hamden's two 1968 S Models, but with a somewhat longer wheelbase.