HFRA member Rev. Owen Sandersen provided us with this fascinating memoir by Verna Schulze Nedovich, as told to local historian Audrey Linke.
Mrs. Nedovich recalls the formation of the Mix District Volunteer Fire Co. 7, of which her father was the first president, as well as the members of the Pillars of Fire Sunday School, which met at the firehouse from its earliest days until a tragic and notorious crime occurred there in April 1931.
Mix District Firehouse Sunday School
by Verna Schulze Nedovich as told to Audrey Linke
The summer I was nine years old, two women came from New Haven to try to start a Sunday School is our rural area of Hamden.They went door to door at first, then had the good fortune to meet Mrs. Gainer at her home on Shepard Avenue.Mrs. Gainer was instrumental in obtaining the use of the Mix District Volunteer Firehouse for the Sunday sessions, and was probably influential in getting the neighborhood children to attend the new Sunday School, as well. During the winter I went to a Baptist Sunday school, but beginning in the summer of 1929 I became part of the newly formed nondenominational Pillars of Fire Sunday School, along with many other neighborhood children. The firehouse was still quite new, having been started by neighbors who saw a need for fire protection.That was in 1924.In September 1925, a subscription paper was started to raise money for the project.In September 1927, the town engineers laid out the lines for the building, and in January of 1928, the fire truck was housed in the new quarters. The firehouse was built in 1927 by George Wilson, who built a home for himself at the corner of Shepard Avenue and Eramo Terrace at about the same time.My father, Albert O. Schulze, was one of those promoting the building of the firehouse and he became the first president of the new organization.He and others worked for many years to fund the building, forming at the same time a tight social bond among the residents.The Mix District Volunteer Fire Company No. 7 is still an active organization, contributing to the safety of the neighborhood and to its social activities, as well.
1929 - Pillars of Fire Sunday School class in front of Station 7
[In April 1931], a tragedy occurred and the Pillars of Fire Sunday School was no more.During or after a Saturday night dance at the firehouse, a daughter of Charles Kirk was murdered behind the firehouse.Soon after the murder, the girlís boyfriend was found shot to death behind his familyís barn.A rifle was nearby.There was also a note confessing he was guilty and therefore was taking his own life.I donít think anyone believed the boy committed suicide and the deaths of the two young people have gone unsolved all these many years.Details of the investigation were published in the Bridgeport Herald and covered two entire pages of that paper.A copy of that issue can be found at the Hamden Historical Society on the third floor of the Miller Library in Hamden. In this 1929 picture of the Pillars of Fire Sunday School class, the teachers are wearing black dresses. In the front row are Edward McLean, Ralph McLean, a Wilson girl, George McLean, the next two children unknown, and George Wilson. In the middle row, Phil Nedovich is next to the teacher.Next to Phil is Rose Leuenberger and next to Rose is me, Verna Schulze.Phil Nedovich and I were married in 1941.Peeking out from behind me is Alan McLean; he and Rose were married when they grew up, too.We four knew each other from the time we were in Kindergarten and remained lifelong friends.Alan and Phil are now gone. The tall girl behind me is my sister, Eleanor Schulze Warner.Other children are Myrtle Wilson, Buella Wilson and the teacher, Miss Verdi. Five McLean brothers served in the military during World War II; all came home safely.