Tom Doherty and Dave Johnson paid a visit to brother retiree John O'Hare today at his home in Orange. Having retired at the maximum age in October 1991, John is our second oldest retiree. Richie Lostritto is six weeks older. At 94, they both are the last two living retirees born before 1930. But you'd never know it because they are both still very sharp and possess the same great sense of humor they had when they were on the job.
John acknowledges that he has "slowed a bit" due to some back issues that have plagued him lately, but he still gets out and about.
John and Tom reminisced about their days working part-time at the golf course for the Parks & Rec Dept. And of course there were a few Fred Fletcher stories from John's days working with Fred at Station 5 some fifty years ago, when it was a little less politically correct than it is today (try "a lot" less . . . ).
But the high point of the visit was remembering the legendary Art Heriot, a master of dialects, a true comic genius, and an outstanding firefighter. The statute of limitations having been up decades ago, the three listened to a CD containing Art's classic off-duty crank phone call to Leonard Pipe. Employing a perfect Italian dialect with the hapless manager, Art tries to get an estimate to fill his son-in-law's in-ground swimming pool with "con-creek, to make it safe for the kids." (It goes downhill from there.)
Then it was Art's call to apply for a job as truck driver. Using a flawless Irish brogue, Art convinced the guy on the other end of the phone, himself a genuine son of the Auld Sod, that he would make a fine employee despite just getting out of jail.
To suggest that Art's conversation with the poor fellow bordered on the ridiculous would be an understatement. But the guy was buying the whole thing. Finally, when asked his name, without missing a beat Art replied, "John O'Hare." That was Art.
Anyway, what was to have been a twenty-minute stop to say "hi" turned out to be more like 90 minutes. Thanks, John, for letting your fellow retirees know that you're doing just fine and for sharing a lot of great stories and a few laughs. We need to do that a lot more these days.
This 1953 item about a now-legendary Hamden fireman (before he was a Hamden fireman) appeared in Chronicle editor Francis "Bud" O'Connor's weekly column, "The Melting Pot." (The photo is ours.)
For several years The Hamden Chronicle was voted the best weekly in New England.