c. 1940 - Firefighter Clem Kammerer at Station 6 with 1924 Stutz 350 gpm pumper (Photo courtesy of Barbara LaReau)
HFRA Website Helps in
One Family's Research
We received the following email in late May:
"My name is Barbara LaReau and I am researching my family history. I stumbled on your website and discovered some wonderful pictures of my great-grandfather, Clement Kammerer, on your website. He died when I was very young so I have no memories of him. Didn't even know he was a fireman until I did a Google search on the internet!"
The Hamden Firefighter pictured at left is Mrs. LaReau's great-grandfather, Clement Kammerer, who joined the Hamden Fire Department on January 29, 1928 and served until his retirement on November 1, 1959.
We were happy to know that the HFRA website was helpful in Barbara LaReau's pursuit of family information and we were also very happy to provide her with more photos of her great-grandfather.
Earlier this past week, Mrs. LaReau kindly provided this wonderful photo of her great-grandfather in front of Merritt Street Station No. 6, with the 1924 Stutz 350 GPM pumper inside. The photo would have been taken sometime before April 1942, when the Stutz was retired.
Firefighter Kammerer worked with several HFRA members who were on the job in the 1950s, including Richie Lostritto, who remembers him fondly. Firefighter Kammerer passed away on June 15, 1973 at the age of 78.
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Thanks to John O'Hare for providing this scan of an early department personnel roster, which was posted in each station in case off duty personnel had to be called in for a large emergency. Joe McDermott, who joined the department in May 1953, is the least senior member on this roster.
John O'Hare noted that this was the last department roster to be issued before he joined the department in November 1953, replacing Firefighter Thomas (Tim) Cummins. Joe and John both went the distance, retiring in September and October 1991, respectively. Both of them attend meetings of the HFRA.
Note that the platoon commanders were captains. In November of the following year, the Board of Fire Commissioners summarily elevated the three captains to the new rank of battalion chief, and the three lieutenants filled the captain vacancies. The three lieutenant vacancies remained for two more years. In 1956, Firefighters Francis Leddy, Robert O'Donnell, Paul Rosadina and William Hines were then promoted to fill the three lieutenant vacancies, plus one new slot that was created in anticipation of the creation of the B/C Training Officer's position.
The telephone numbers on this roster were expressed using the old SNET alphanumeric exchange names (CHestnut, ATwater, SPruce, etc.). Today (2018) none of the telephone numbers on this roster are still valid for any of the families listed. In the original 2012 posting, some numbers were still vavlid and had to be blacked out.
Originally posted 8/3/2012
Here's an interesting photo of Station 3, taken on an early autumn day several decades ago from a plane piloted by Ed Doiron.
You have wisdom to share. Wehave children who need it. Experience Corps is recruiting people age 55+ to tutor literacy with children in Hamden elementary schools 10+ hours a week during the school year. No teaching or tutoring experience is necessary and training is provided.
Volunteers also participate in fun community events. You must have a high school diploma or GED and be able to pass a background check and literacy screening. Small stipend with tuition help for children or grandchildren available.
For more information, please visit www.experiencecorps.orgAARP Experience Corps - Greater New Haven is a program of the Agency on Aging of South Central Connecticut in partnership with United Way of Greater New Haven and HamdenPublic Schools. This project is a proud member of the AmeriCorps National Service Network.
NOTE: The HFRA website welcomes the opportunity to advertise worthy programs that help members of our Hamden community.
Reilly's Restaurant, Christmas Day 1964 - Looks like Firefighter Milner Benham with an unidentified Mt. Carmel volunteer during overhaul. (Photo by Ed Doiron, Sr.) CLICK to enlarge
Twenty-five years ago this week, we were stunned and saddened by the sudden passing of Capt. Raymond Reilly on August 12, 1987.
Ray joined the department in February 1971, was promoted to lieutenant in June 1981, and captain in October 1984. Ray was the Department's first four-year college graduate with a degree in Fire Science. An original member of the Mountain Rescue Team, Ray was a fine firefighter.
At the time of his passing, Capt. Reilly was assigned to Station 3 on Platoon 3 and was in charge of the department's SCBAs. He was survived by his wife, Suzanne, and sons Tom, Michael and Paul.
June 1978 - Ray doing the Friday thing with the Locke mower at 3s - CLICK to enlarge
Like many of his Platoon 3 colleagues, Ray was also a bit of a prankster, as can been seen in this 1978 below of Guy White cutting his 40th birthday cake at 3s.
While still a firefighter, Ray was half of a duo that installed a strip of lavender "dingle balls" along the top of the rear window of Dep. Chief Harrington's red 1968 Chrysler staff car. Chief Harrington rode around in his low-rider wannabe for two days, oblivious to the unauthorized accessories, until they were discovered and ordered removed by Chief Leddy. Such were the good times we all enjoyed with Ray.
D/C George Reutenauer, Lt. Frank Eitler, Ray, Guy White, Jeff Stoehr and Dan Murphy - CLICK to enlarge
Great late 1960s aerial view of Whitneyville, taken from over the New Haven Country Club. The old footbridge that spanned Lake Whitney had been closed to pedestrian traffic for deacdes. It was removed in 1975. The arrow points to Station 3 on Putnam Avenue, which was still open until September 1970. (From a postcard)
August 10, 2002 - Ten Years Ago Today! - Great previously published website photo taken by Bob Mordecai in front of Walmart, where Ffs. Tim O'Flynn and Augie Williams posed with a happy Walmart employee during that year's annual Local 2687 MDA drive.
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November 19, 1960
This roster was printed in the program for the Hamden Paid Firemen's Sick Benefit Association's 25th Annual Firemen's Ball.
November 19, 1960 was actually V. Paul Leddy's first day as Hamden's new fire chief. The program undoubtedly had been printed a while earlier because Raymond C. Spencer was still listed as chief, even though he had actually retired the day before.
Note that the shift commanders were still called "Battalion Chief" - that would change the following year - and there were only two company officers per platoon, one captain and one lieutenant.
Note also that this roster includes Mrs. Theodore (Letittia) Flagge, who served as secretary to the Chief and the Marshal until her retirement in 1978. Still going strong at 99, Mrs. Flagge is an Honorary member of the HFRA. (Courtesy of Chan Brainard)
Sears Provides Unique Fire Training Opportunities 40 Years Later
Sears Arrived in 1954 - Gone by 1994
The Hamden Chronicle, August 19, 1954 (Courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society) - CLICK to enlarge.
40 Years Later - Ready for demolition - SAD!
Until the mid-1950s, suburban folks in Connecticut had to go to the big city to patronize a prominent national department store. That all changed at 9 a.m. on Thursday, August 19, 1954 when the Sears Roebuck and Co. department store opened at 2301 Dixwell Avenue.
The new Hamden Sears replaced the New Haven store on lower Church Street and was the first national chain department store to be located in the bedroom community of a major Connecticut city. The Hamden Sears was also the precursor to the Hamden Plaza, the first suburban shopping plaza in Connecticut, which opened the following year.
By the 1959 opening of the Hamden Mart, the stretch of Dixwell Avenue between Skiff Street and the parkway overpass, once dominated by the Peters Farm and apple orchard, would thereafter be known as the "Magic Mile."
Hamden's Sears store lasted just under 40 years, closing on March 13, 1993, the same day the area was hit with a massive snow storm. In the year and a half that followed, the Hamden Fire Department was permitted to use the building for training purposes. We preserved many images from that time.
Saturday, October 8, 1994 - During a multi-company training session, Battalion Chief Tom Doherty and Ff. John Longo of Tower 1 posed on the roof next to one of Hamden's most recognized signs of the previous 40 years.
October 18, 1994 - Only ten days later, the wrecking crew was moving right along. (Johnson photo)
Dolores Fortuna Experienced an Epic Hamden Event in the Sears Building
For a couple of years in the late 1980s, Dolores Fortuna worked in the Sears accounting department, up on the second floor in the front of the building. Dolores is the wife of Tom Fortuna, who, many of us will recall, served as Hamden's 2nd District Councilman for several years in the 1990s.
The Sears building played a significant role in Dolores' memorable "snapshot" moment of an event that was also experienced by tens of thousands of us other Hamdenites one summer afternoon in 1989. Click on her photo for, as Paul Harvey used to say, "the rest of the story."
CLICK for the rest of the story
c. mid-1980s - At an unidentified department event in the Memorial Town Hall auditorium, Fire Commission Chairman Robert LaTorraca, at the podium, is flanked by Assistant Fire Chief Walter T. Macdowall. (Photo courtesy of Jeanine "J-9" Aceto)
ALWAYS ENGINE 3
This is a previously unpublished photo of the fairly new 1973 Maxim Telesqurt at Station 3. This pumper underwent an extensive renovation in 1985 and remained in service until the late 1990s.
Like the 1928 Maxim 750 GPM pumper, which served as Engine 3 from 1928 until 1951, the 1973 Telesqurt was always designated as Engine 3, and never assigned to another company.
The 1973 Maxim is presently privately owned and is stored in North Haven. (Photo courtesy of Chan Brainard)
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November 18, 1961
This roster was printed in the program for 26th Annual Ball, held on November 18, 1961.
This is the earliest roster listing V. Paul Leddy as Chief of the Department. Chief Leddy had been appointed the year before to replace Chief Spencer, and would serve until his retirement in April 1984.
Chief Leddy's former battalion chief's slot was filled by Capt. James Strain, Strain's captain's slot was filled by Lt. Paul Rosadina, and Rosadina's lieutenant's position was filled by Ff. George Reutenauer.
Shortly after his appointment, Chief Leddy requested that the title "Battalion Chief," held by the three shift commanders and the training officer since the rank was created in 1954, be renamed to the more appropriate designation of "Deputy Chief."
In addition to "the Deputy," as we used to call them, each platoon was staffed by one captain, one lieutenant and 18 firefighters. In December 1963, Firefighters Daniel O'Connell, Kenneth Harrington and Joseph McDermott were promoted to fill one new lieutenant's slot that was added to each platoon. (Courtesy of Chan Brainard)
The website has received two invitations for all Hamden Fire Retirees. Our brothers at Local 2687 invite all retirees to join them at the annual Local 2687 Golf Tournament on Friday, October 5th at the Laurel View Country Club. Registration and breakfast at 8 a.m., shotgun start at 9 a.m. CLICK on the poster photo below for more information.
An invitation was also received this week from the Chief's Office, inviting all retirees to a special reception next Friday, August 31st, from 10 until noon, in the 3rd floor conference room at the Hamden Government Center. The Department is honoring a couple of special ladies we have known for many years - Jeanine Aceto and Francine Monaco, who are retiring at the end of this month. Together, Jeanie and Fran have served more than fifty years as secretaries in the Hamden Fire Department.
CLICK on either image to enlarge for easier reading.
42 School Street Thursday, August 27, 1953
"Flames Flicker in Fireman's Father's Flat"
That was the headline in the following Thursday's edition of The Hamden Chronicle. The fire at 42 School Street did considerable damage to the apartment of Frank Cantarella, father of Hamden Firefighter Michael "Mickey" Cantarella. No injuries were reported and Ff. Cantarella was not on duty at the time. Volunteers from Mt. Carmel, several of whom would eventually become career department members, were playing ball in a nearby field and responded to the scene. (Photo articles courtesy of Chan Brainard)
From The Hamden Chronicle, Thursday, September 3, 1953 - CLICK to enlarge
42 School Street was razed many years ago to expand the parking area across Whitney Avenue from Eli's. But its twin is still standing at number 36.
Numbers 36 and 42 were believed to have been "company houses," owned by the Web Shop (where the parkway now crosses Whitney Avenue), and occupied by the factory's employees.
36 School Street (Vision Appraisal)
The First Roster of the 42-Hour Schedule Was Guarded Like the Manhattan Project
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October 6, 1970
Exact reproduction of original document
During the months and weeks leading up to the Department's transition to a 42-hour workweek, the contents of this roster was a closely guarded secret. Everyone on the department was going get an assignment letter, but no one, except the Chief and the Deputies, had any idea of the platoon where they'd be assigned. Rumors were flying.
Inevitably, a few guys would remain where they were already assigned, maybe even with the same officer. But the majority of personnel would be working at different stations and everyone would be working with different personnel from their previous assignments.
Men working on different platoons sometimes shared a part-time job on the outside. Guys sharing a part-time job were especially eager to know their new assignments. Being assigned to the same platoon would prevent them from sharing a part-time job on the outside. And in that era, most Hamden firefighters needed a second job in order to make ends meet.
The 42-hour workweek was a blessing to all line personnel, for the first time giving them nearly the same amount of free time as those working in the private sector. It also opened up an unprecedented number of promotional opportunities in all officer ranks below that of Chief. The new 4th Platoon would require one deputy chief, one captain, and two lieutenants, all of whom would come from the existing three platoons under Civil Service rules and testing. And those moving up into those new positions would create additional vacancies for another captain and two more lieutenants.
Civil Service rules that were revised in 1967 dictated that all future deputy chiefs could be selected only from among the department's captains. Previously, captains and lieutenants were all eligible for that position. Effective October 6, 1970, Captain Francis "Chalky" Leddy became deputy chief of the new 4th Platoon. Following civil service tests that were conducted for captain and lieutenant, Lieutenants Kenneth Harrington and Joseph McDermott were promoted to captain; and Firefighters Fiore Cubbellotti, Thomas Doherty, David Herrmann and Gilbert Spencer were promoted to lieutenant.
IFSTA manuals sold like hotcakes once again in 1984, with the creation of four new lieutenant positions and numerous officer retirements in all ranks, which resulted in a new Chief, two promotions to deputy chief (renamed "Commander"), four promotions to captain, and eight promotions to lieutenant - all before the year was out. More on that in a few weeks.
Building on last week's article about the coming of Sears to Hamden, which changed Hamden's commercial landscape forever, Gil Spencer provided this interesting photo of what was there before the Sears store was built. The Peters' Farm Market, at 2335 Dixwell Avenue, was located approximately where the Sears Automotive Service Center was built - opposite, and a little south of, the main entrance to the Hamden Mart.