Years ago, Chan Brainard sent us several photos of a 1948 incident at the corner of Whitney and Santa Fe Avenues. The photos contained the Squad, Engines 3 and 4, and the ladder truck. One of the photos even had Chief Spencer's 1946 Pontiac in the background. When the 70th anniversary approached we wanted to know more about this incident.
Engine 4 in the driveway at #1763 Whitney Avenue, corner of Santa Fe Avenue
Unfortunately, when he sent the photos years ago, Chan could not recall anything specific about the call or its exact location. But he thought it occurred in 1948.
We needed more information. What was the name of the family? What was the address?
Since scorching is clearly visible on the outside of the house, it was undoubtedly a structure fire that would have been reported in the Hamden Chronicle, which covered anything that was deemed newsworthy. (If someone blew his nose at the town hall on Monday, you could be sure it would be in the Chronicle the following Thursday.)
When we received Chan's photos years ago, we could find nothing about a Spring Glen fire in 1948 because we didn't have a name and we didn't have an address. But when we recently discovered the envelope containing the original photo negatives, "Dr. A. Gamm - 1948" was printed on it.
Aha, now we had a name! Flipping through the 1948 city directory, there it was: Alexander Gamm was listed at 1763 Whitney Avenue, corner of Santa Fe.
We're almost there!
This photo of the ladder truck shows Firefighter Danny O'Connell replacing a hook in preparation for leaving the scene. The rear of Engine 3, the 1928 Maxim 750 GPM pumper, can be seen at the extreme righthand side of the photo.
In the previously-unpublished photo above, Whitneyville's mascot, Belle, a beautiful Dalmation, is seen perched in her special seat on Engine 3.
"You're getting warmer!"
Now that we had the homeowner's name and the exact address, we thought it would be a cinch to find out what happened that day 70 years ago. So we scoured every 1948 issue of the Hamden Chronicle to find the story about a fire in the Spring Glen residence of Dr. Alexander Gamm.
We checked and double-checked. Nothing! Absolutely nothing. How can that be?
Then, earlier this week, a vital clue was discovered in one of the photos that proved we were barking up a wrong tree. We thought we had all the information we needed to find the article about this fire, but one bit of crucial information was wrong. Look closely. Did any of my fellow "gearheads" notice it too?