The members of the Hamden Fire Retirees Association held their 38th regular meeting this past week at the Hamden Elks Lodge hall. A report on the Association's tax-exempt status is still pending from the I.R.S. The summer meeting is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, July 12th, but that may change depending upon the Elks' schedule. Members will be notified well in advance.
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Standing (L-R): John Reynolds, Clark Hurlburt, Augie Williams, Paul Tavaras, John Poe, Ray Dobbs, Harold Mangler Bobby Viglione, Jim Leddy, Brian Forsyth, Paul Petrillo, Mark Pratt, Dave Johnson and Ralph Purificato.
Seated (L-R): Jack Mordecai, Bob Mordecai, Bob Slater, Chick Manware, John O'Hare and Tom Doherty.
The man who served longer than any other as a career member of the Hamden Fire Department, Fire Marshal Albert Purce, was succeeded by Captain Robert O'Donnell, who was appointed to replace Purce fifty years ago this week. The appointment would take effect with Purce's retirement in August.
Known to his friends as "Bubby," Robert O'Donnell was born on May 9, 1925. A U.S. Army World War II veteran, O'Donnell joined the Hamden Fire Department in January 1947.
In 1956, O'Donnell was promoted to lieutenant along with Bill Hines, Francis "Chalky" Leddy, and Paul Rosadina. When Daniel Hume was appointed the department's first training officer eight months later, O'Donnell was promoted again to fill Hume's captain's vacancy on Platoon 2.
Robert O'Donnell served as Hamden's second career fire marshal until his retirement in 1987. He passed away ten years ago next month, on June 15, 2008.
New Haven Register, April 16, 1968 (Courtesy of Gil Spencer)
Marshal Al Purce
Al Purce was appointed driver at Centerville Co. 4 in 1925. The following year he was assigned to the new Mt. Carmel fire station as Engine 5's first paid driver of Company 5's 1918 Stewart chemical truck and, later, the 1930 Maxim.
In 1942, Purce and Joseph Hromadka were appointed to be the department's first career captains, each commanding one of the departments two platoons. In 1944, Capt. Purce took on the added responsiblity of fire marshal, a position previously held by Hamden's first selectmen. His additional annual compensation for being fire marshal was $50. He was finally appoionted as Hamden's first fulltime fire marshal in 1949.
When Marshal Al Purce retired in the autumn of 1968, he had served a record 43 years on the department. He died on December 13, 1978 at the age of 75, one day before his colleague, former Chief Raymond C. Spencer.
Hamden Elks Donate Smoke and CO Detectors for Families in Need
On Friday, April 6, 2018, the Hamden Fire Department received a generous donation of both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors from the Hamden Elks Lodge # 2224 located at 175 School St. Hamden. The department distributes detectors to those most in need. Installation of detectors is available to those who are unable to do so on their own.
The members of the Hamden Fire Department wish to thank the Elks organization for their most generous and appreciated donation.
Left to right: Local 2687 President Ff. Kurt Vogt, Battalion Chief Gary Couture, Fire Marshal Brian Dolan, Fire Chief David Berardesca, Elks Exalted Ruler Holly Bryk, Fire Inspector Ralph DiFonzo, Lt. Rich Lennon, Fire Commissioner Jim O’Brien, Local 2687 Vice-President Ff. Dave Beaton
After a February 3, 1978 fire destroyed the Daw Packing Company at the corner of Washington Avenue and School Street (See February 2, 2018 Website Update), the New Haven Register and Hamden Chronicle both reported that the building was once Hamden's District School No. 5. Indeed, the burned-out brick structure in the news photo below, nicknamed "the Baloney Factory," certainly looked like an old school.
1914 - District School No. 5 Class Photo
However, a District School No. 5 class photo from the Hamden Historical Society, published in theChronicle at the time of the fire, casts doubt on the schoolhouse story.
Unlike Daw Packing's brick building that was destroyed by fire, the schoolhouse in the old class photo was obviously of wood-frame construction with clapboard siding. After researching some old Hamden town reports, the website came up with some answers.
In 1910, the original 53-year old District No. 5 School, located on the north side of School Street between Whitney and Washington Avenues, was replaced by a brand new four-room wood-frame building on Washington Avenue (photo below) at the corner of School Street - the same building pictured in the old class photo.
District School No. 5, Washington Ave., corner of School St.
Hamden Provision Company, 9 School St.
The schoolhouse at Washington Avenue and School School closed eight years later when the new Centerville School (now Miller Library) opened on Dixwell Avenue. During the 1920-21 fiscal year, the old schoolhouse was purchased by the Hamden Provision Company, which tore it down it to construct their new brick building (at right). Daw Packing Co. purchased the building in the 1950s, and it was destroyed by fire in February 1978.
Mystery solved: The "Baloney Shop" was never a school.
Edward Quimby's 1910 and 1914 photos are courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society.
What appears to be a nearly new Seagrave quadruple combination pumper is proudly driven by members of Darien's Noroton Fire Department in the August 1951 Connecticut State Firemen's Association Convention Parade in Stamford. Note the shiny new 1951 Cadillac following right behind the quad.