The HFRA E-Board regrets to announce the passing on Wednesday of Robert J. Callahan, Jr., son of our late brother firefighter, Robert "Ace" Callahan (1925-82) and HFRA Honorary Member Nancy Callahan of Wallingford, following a three-year battle with ALS.
Our thoughts and prayers go with Nancy and the other members of Robert's family.
E-Board to explore options for becoming a non-profit corporation
CLICK to enlarge (Photo by Dan Johnson)
Standing: NHFD Ff. Douglas Wardlaw, Ralph Purificato, Jim Koutsopolos, Bob Anthony, Bill Coppola, Harold Mangler, Doug Yocher, Jim Leddy, Bob Viglione, John Poe, Bob Westervelt, Dep. Chief Gary Merwede, Don LaBanca, Chief David Berardesca, Jim Dunlop, Mark Pratt, David Strawhince, Tom Doherty, Chan Brainard, Raymond Bright, Gil Spencer, Barb Johnson and Dave Johnson. Seated: Margie Hodge, Bob Mordecai, Chick Manware, John O’Hare, Ff. Ken Jones and Dave Tyson (NHFD Ret.) Missing: Brian Forsyth, who was preparing the lunch that followed the photo.
Ff. Sam Jones
Over 30 members and guests attended the 32nd meeting of the Hamden Fire Retirees Association last Wednesday at Hamden Elks Hall.
Hamden Chief David Berardesca and Deputy Chief Gary Merwede were among several special guests on hand as the Association conducted its annual October presentation of memorial plaques honoring those members who passed during the previous twelve months.
Ken Jones, an East Point, Georgia firefighter, made the trip from the Peach State to accept the memorial plaque honoring his dad, Firefighter Samuel A. Jones, Hamden's first African-American career firefighter, who passed last October 29th, just a few days shy of his 90th birthday. Ken was accompanied by his aunt, Margie Hodge, and three friends, Raymond Bright, Dave Tyson (NHFD, Ret.) and Firefighter Douglas Wardlaw (NHFD).
Gil Spencer was Sam's shift commander at the time of his 1990 retirement. Gil presented Ken with his father's memorial plaque and remarked that Sam was a "great guy to work with." Chief Berardesca spoke, thanking the Association for the invitation, noting the importance of the occasion and the work of our retirees to stay connected.
D/C Merwede and Chief Berardesca join retired B/C Spencer for plaque presentation to Ken Jones
In accepting the memorial plaque on behalf of his step-mother, Elaine Jones of Decatur, Georgia, Ken related how his dad always told him that becoming Hamden's first black firefighter so many years ago went smoothly for him and the guys he worked with. "It was 1961, but there was never a problem."
Ken recalled some of his dad's friends from "the old days," particularly Gene Maturo and Dave Strawhince. Sam was a serious chess player and Dave was the only guy who could really pose a challenge to Sam.
Ken concluded his remarks by thanking the Association for the opportunity to be invited to accept the plaque honoring his dad's memory. Afterward, Ken was also presented with a certificate conferring HFRA Honorary Membership upon Sam's widow, Elaine.
A memorial plaque honoring Lieutenant Bob Kelo, who passed on August 19th, will be presented to his widow, Jacqueline, when she visits Connecticut from her Chesterfield, Virginia home later this month. The occasion will be covered on the website.
Another very special guest was HFRA Honorary Member Chan Brainard, whose donations of hundreds of photos and news articles about HFD apparatus, personnel, emergency incidents and various department activities over several decades have contributed enormously to the preservation of HFD history.
This being his first HFRA meeting, Chan told the members that he had been interested in the Hamden Fire Department and the department's apparatus since he was a kid and was very happy to have the opportunity to be a part of the Association.
Following the meeting Chan spoke with retired Chief Jim Leddy, whose father, Francis "Chalky" Leddy, was Chan's mentor back in the late 1950s when he was a member of Hamden's Civil Defense Fire Auxiliary, which was headed by the elder Leddy.
Bob Mordecai and Jim Dunlop, re-elected Prez and VP
In other business, President Bob Mordecai, Vice President Jim Dunlop and Secretary/Treasurer Dave Johnson were re-elected to serve another two years. Jim Leddy, whose term as one of three trustees ends on December 31, was re-elected to serve until the end of 2022. The other two trustees are Bob Viglione (2018) and Gil Spencer (2020).
The members present voted unanimously to investigate various 501(c) options for non-profit corporate status. Presently the Association pays an annual business entity tax of $250 to the State of Connecticut and is also liable for a 17% federal business income tax on all income, no matter how small. The Executive Board will report at the January breakfast meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday, January 10, 2017 at 9 a.m.
Under "Good of the Association," the members present wished John O'Hare a very happy upcoming 90th birthday on October 28th. The webpage will feature John on his birthday in two weeks.
Also, the members send belated Happy Birthday wishes to Richie Lostritto, who just celebrated his 90th birthday on September 6th. Richie and his wife Marge moved recently from Wallingford to their new home in North Haven. Sounding as good as ever, Richie reports that he and Marge are doing "just fine," and plans to be at our January meeting.
Members and guests during the meeting, which lasted a whole 27 minutes. Then it was time to socialize.
All smaller photos below may be enlarged by clicking on them
Chief Berardesca and Ff. Ken Jones
Honorary Membership for Elaine Jones
Dave Tyson (NHFD, Ret.), NHFD Ff. Douglas Wardlaw and Ken Jones
Ken with his aunt, Margie Hodge
Mark Pratt and D/C Merwede share a few memories.
Ken Jones and Harold Mangler.
D/C Merwede and Dave Strawhince
Johnny Poe, Doug Yocher, "Red" Ralph Purificato and Bobby Westervelt
Bob Viglione and Tom Doherty
Donny LaBanca and Mark Pratt
Jimmy Dunlop, Chick Manware, John O'Hare and Gil Spencer taking care of some paperwork after the meeting
John O'Hare, Chan Brainard and Vic Mitchell
Raymond Bright and Margie Hodge
T.D. & Mrs. J.
Bill Coppola and Gil Spencer
John O'Hare, Gil Spencer, Harold Mangler and Jim Koutsopolos
Don LaBanca, Chick Manware, D/C Merwede and Mark Pratt
Bob Westervelt, Bill Coppola, Bob Mordecai and Dave Strawhince
Old department records show that Hamden's 1928 Maxim 750 GPM, which spent its entire service life as Engine 3, was traded in to O.B. Maxwell in July 1952 for $500, to be applied toward the purchase department's new 1952 750 GPM Maxim.
So, whatever happened to the 1928 Maxim pumper after that? Who knows? Only 24 years of age, it seemed hardly likely that the pumper would have been junked.
Well, the answer appears to have been found recently in the negative collection of Chan Brainard, who took the photos below at the Annex Fire Department in New Haven in 1957. The negatives were accompanied by a 3x5 card with a very interesting notation.
NOTE: "Seagrave" on the card refers to the pumper in the top photo. The pumper in the lower photo is the one "still sitting in reserve," which is definitely a pre-1931 Maxim. The "Engine 3" lettering most likely pays homage to its former role in Hamden.
The Annex became a legal part of the city of New Haven the year after this photo was taken. The Annex Fire Department's Forbes Avenue fire station was replaced in 1960 by NHFD's new Woodward Avenue Station 5. The Annex Fire Department was legally dissolved by the State of Connecticut on August 20, 1961.*
*From New Haven Firefighters, Box 22 Associates (2005), Arcadia Publishing
October 17, 1956 - Four new company officers sworn in
With the creation of the shift commander's rank of "Battalion Chief" in 1954, Captains Joe Hromadka, Everett Doherty and Paul Leddy were summarily promoted to the new position. The three lieutenants, Jim Strain, Emil Strain and Dan Hume, then filled the vacant captains' slots, leaving three lieutenant positions vacant.
Two years later those lieutenant vacancies were filled by the gentlemen in the news photo below. The vast majority of today's retirees worked with at least one of these four guys during their careers. Some of us worked with all four at one time or another.
Website thanks to Sally Hines Rowe for providing this October 18, 1956 news photo from the New Haven Evening Register.
Bill Hines and Francis Leddy were the first Hamden firefighters hired after V-J Day; Hines in September 1945 and Leddy in January 1946. Paul Rosadina followed in late 1946 and Bob O'Donnell in January 1947.
In the third week of October 1956, the Hamden Board of Fire Commissioners promoted all four of these men to fill the vacancies in the lieutenant slots that had existed for nearly two years. Eight months later O'Donnell was promoted to captain to fill Capt. Daniel Hume's line vacancy when Hume was named Hamden's first Training Officer, with the rank of battalion chief.
Bob "Bubby" O'Donnell became the department's second fire marshal, succeeding Marshal Albert Purce in 1968. He retired in 1987. Bill Hines continued to serve with distinction as a company officer for another 23 years, passing away of cancer in May 1979 while still a member of the department.
Francis "Chalky" Leddy was promoted to captain in 1964 and deputy chief (shift commander) of the new Platoon 4 in 1970. He retired in 1986. Paul Rosadina was promoted to captain in 1961 and deputy chief (shift commander) of Platoon 1 in 1972. He retired in early 1985.