Whitneyville Co. 3's Memorial Day March 75 Years Ago
Before Congress moved Memorial Day to the last Monday of May, the observance once known as "Decoration Day" was always on May 30th. On Saturday, May 30, 1942, the first Memorial Day after Pearl Harbor, members of Whitneyville Co. 3 had a modest marching contingent in a parade somewhere, but was it Hamden?
Ben Onofrio's Badge
These two photos were donated by Elizabeth Onofrio Smith, whose dad was "Ben the Barber," who is pictured last in line in the upper photo, smiling at the photgrapher. Ben's barber shop was just a few doors away from the Putnam Avenue fire station and every kid who grew up in Whitneyville went to Ben's. According to Mrs. Smith, her dad joined the fire company in 1927. Several years ago, she donated here father's Co. 3 badge to the HFRA.
It appears that the line of marching passed the same location twice, first going one way and then returning. Where in Hamden might these photos have been taken? We don't know. Do you?
Thanks to a senior Hamdenite and HFRA member, the mystery surrounding the location of these 1942 "parade rest" photos has been solved. The white house still stands today, but no longer at that location. The darker house with all those windows was razed around 1948 to make way for a new street. Any ideas?
Hamden's 1926 Maxim ladder truck is parked on Putnam Avenue near Whitneyville Station 3 in this May 1939 photo from the collection of the late G. Donald Steele. The open bay door in the background would have been for Engine 3, a 1928 Maxim 750 g.p.m. pumper that was in service there until 1952.
1939 - Hamden's 1926 Maxim city service ladder truck (Click to enlarge) - Courtesy of the late G. Donald Steele
The large booster tank between the seats and the single bank of ground ladders replaced a chemical tank that came with the truck when it was delivered in March 1926. A 150 g.p.m. pump and that large booster tank were installed sometime thereafter.
Two years after this photo was taken, the ladder truck was was totaled when it was flipped over by a trolley car at Dixwell and Mather while responding to a call at the Peter's home, where the Hamden Mart is located today. Driver David F. Howe, was uninjured.
Thursday, June 20, 1963 - Fire at the Rite Box Company, 2317 Whitney Avenue.
The firefighter with the "5" on his helmet appears to be Mt. Carmel volunteer Russell Smith. The firefighter directly behind Smith in the soft hat has been identified as Mike Paulson, a volunteer for North Haven's West Ridge Co.
Russ Smith joined the paid department five months later in November 1963.
The Rite Box Company was down a long driveway off the east side of Whitney Avenue, a few hundred feet south of Dixwell. It was among several other small industrial and commercial buildings that were located approximately where the Hamden Center One is today.
June 20, 1963 - Photo by Bill Brainard, courtesy of Chan Brainard
Rite Box, June 20, 1963 - Firefighters Burt Hillocks (foreground) and Dave Howe overhauling with booster lines. Dave served from January 2, 1948 until his retirement in June 1984. He passed away in 1989. Burt served from September 11, 1950 until retiring in February 1981 at the rank of captain. Burt passed away last September at the age of 91.
Originally posted 6/21/13
1965 aerial view of Centerville - East side of Whitney Avenue, south of Dixwell. Nos. 2305 and 2313 are still standing. Nos. 2311, 2315 and 2317 and the other buildings near them were razed in the early-1980s to make way for the two Hamden Center highrises and the parking garage.
Then-Lieut. Walt Macdowall was the weekly contributor to the March 17, 1977 "Fire Line" column, a weekly Hamden Chronicle feature that highlighted the department's various activities. This article provides an interesting snapshot of where the department's EMS was at the time, compared with 19 years earlier, when the department had 64 EMS (AKA "oxygen") calls for the entire year. But the comparison between the article's projected 1,700 EMS runs for 1977 and the over 7,500 EMS calls last year is just as eye-opening.
Hamden Chronicle March 17, 1977 (Courtesy of Gil Spencer)
Walt Macdowall went on to become the department's first EMS Officer in 1983, a position he retained for several years after he was appointed Asst. Chief a year later. In 1989, Lieut. Charles Esposito took over as EMS Officer. The position was left vacant for six years after Esposito retired in 1993. When the training officer's position was resurrected in 1999 after being vacant for nine years, the EMS position was incorporated into the specs for training officer.