Author Topic: GLORY DAYS  (Read 156364 times)

Online 68jk09

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #300 on: December 02, 2019, 04:25:59 PM »
^^^^ Thanks Turk that's the photo...Vinny Dunn also pointed out that the LT Danny Maher was running to get the guys on the Multiversal who were in danger & may not have been aware......he also said if i remember correctly that the wall collapse was caused by sloping hip rafters at the end of a bow string heavy timber truss roof.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2019, 04:41:12 PM by 68jk09 »

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #300 on: December 02, 2019, 04:25:59 PM »

Offline JohnnyGage

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #301 on: Today at 08:05:56 PM »
WELCOME TO BELMONT AVENUE!

Just before graduation, one afternoon during proby school, a few officers from 54 Truck came down to the Rock looking to “recruit” a couple of probies for their company. It sounded interesting to me so I called Uncle Jack that evening when I got home from Proby School and told him that 54 Truck was seeking probies, and what did he think of the company? Up to that moment, I did not know that Jack had “plans” for me...he said to forget about 54 and “that I was coming with him”. As I understood at the time, Uncle Jack was a Lieutenant at Engine 45. However in our brief phone call he did not mention that his new home was at L 38, transferring from E 45 a few weeks ago. So as the final weeks of proby school began to wane I was under the impression that I was going to E 45, and that was real cool for me as I buffed there many times,  knew the house and some of the guys, I was sitting pretty...

Finally department order number 131, September 16, 1982 came out...a couple of copies are being passed around the cafeteria tables and I grab hold of a copy and start looking it over with my squad members...the order starts off with probies assigned to an engine company, names are next to the engine company number. The company numbers run in numerical order from low numbers to high and are in two columns on the front and back page... a guy from my class is going to E 45, but it ain’t me...looking further at the front page of the order I then spot my name,  and next to my name is 88, to my surprise I’ve been assigned to Engine Company 88....Engine 88? A quick thought ran through my coconut, must have been a mix up somewhere...The only time I ever heard of E 88 was from reading a small blurb from “Report From Engine Co. 82” where E 88 was casually mentioned stretching a line in Dennis Smith's book.

I remembered during proby school, one instructor was wearing a covering officer E 88 insert and spoke to him in the cafeteria near the coffee machine... Engine 88? Where is that?...The first thing the officer asked me, “who did I know?” which confused me more, then he began to fill me in, ending our conversation his mouth spread wide with a grin and the first of many to come...“Wait to you meet Captain Tough Timmy!”.  As soon as I got home I had two missions, the first, dig out some of my old WNYF magazines and look up the Runs and Workers. I was grateful to note Engine 88 was right in the top engine companies, that was cool...My second was to give  Jack a call thinking there might have been a mix up, but that’s when he told me that he had recently transferred to L 38, in the same quarters with E 88 and didn't realize he forgot to inform me...followed by a chuckle he went on to tell me I would be working with “Tough Timmy!”...again with “Tough Timmy”, who is this guy?



During proby school I was carpooling with my three buddies in Chicky’s new compact Chevy chevette. When I left DCFD I was driving a Black 1955 Chevy I bought from another firefighter that he had rebuilt, it was in fine condition and ran well,  it was a fun car to drive and with a 327 cubic inch motor in it, it was quick. Since the car was sitting at home during the day my younger brother asked to borrow it, and of course he did what all younger brothers do, he rear ended another car along the Long Island Expressway service road, and then he in turn was rear ended. Good by 55. Lucky for me, while in proby school I received my pension check from DCFD, not much of course, but I was able to buy a sleek looking 1977 Silver Mercury Cougar from a used car lot. The car handled like a limousine with all the extra features that I never had before in any of my cars.



Driving the first day to Engine 88 I remember how comfortable the plush car seats felt, sitting back gliding over some of the rough Bronx Streets and riding in style with FM radio! I made sure to arrive extra early at the firehouse, turning right from 182nd Street onto Belmont Avenue I noticed the three story firehouse ahead of me in the middle of the block of row frame detached homes, my heart started thumping quicker as I cruised closer.... I slowly drove passed the firehouse toward the ten parking spots along the street reserved for fire department vehicles, I noticed the Engine Bay door open with an American LaFrance engine standing at the ready, two white 8’s on the front cab...there was a senior-looking fireman leaning against the open apparatus door frame with his arms crossed nonchalantly passing the time. After I parked the car, I grabbed the two cakes I bought at my local bakery (you hear repeatedly at proby school, do not go your firehouse “empty handed”, but  “knock with your elbows”) and started my way to the firehouse. I was greeted by the fireman standing by the door, upon seeing me he had a welcoming smile, “Hello Kid!...Welcome to 88, I’m Ralph, the nicest guy in this firehouse!” as he laughed out loud. (NOTE: I so loved that line I kept it for myself during my career and used it every time a new face came into my firehouse). And his statement was true, Ralph was certainly a nice guy, too!...the senior man and one of the four ECCs of 88.



Engine 88 is quartered with Ladder 38 in the Belmont section of the Bronx, both companies were organized in 1908. Geographically, the firehouse is further North from E 82 / L 31’s quarters by about thirteen blocks. During the later years when I buffed with Jack at L 31 their response area was almost burnt out and decimated, rumors circulating among firefighters was the next neighborhood “hotspot” that would become victim of fire and arson would be Belmont and partially that was true. Although most of the Belmont area did see widespread devastation along the southern and west area of coverage, spared was  the immediate area surrounding Arthur Avenue and 187 Street, known as “Little Italy”.

Even today, this area is well known as “The Little Italy” of the Bronx, and compared to the Manhattan “Little Italy” a real challenge for notoriety. Arthur Avenue is the backbone of the community was, and still is a thriving shopping mecca. Flourishing businesses owned by Italian merchants line Arthur Avenue with exceptional restaurants, cafe’s, markets with fresh produce, live poultry, fresh fish and the finest Italian bread and pastry shops you could ever find in this country!  Along 187th Street there are more phenomenal  restaurants, fresh pasta and ravioli shops, meat and cheese markets are mixed with specialty shops and religious artifact businesses. When companies head out to procure the meal, it is not uncommon to see a half dozen rigs parked along the street while the firefighters gather meal provisions.
 
It was known that “Dion and the Belmonts” a local leading American vocal group of the 1950’s  originated their sound on the corners of this neighborhood. The group called themselves the “Belmonts” since two of the four members of the group lived on Belmont Avenue, the other two nearby.

Surrounding the Belmont area to the east is the Bronx Zoo off of Southern Blvd. The Bronx Zoo is one of the largest zoos in America with over four thousand animals and more than two million visitors a year. Engine 88’s motto is “First Due At The Zoo”. (The Zoo is part of E 88’s “Administrative” District, part of our responsibility is to make sure the hydrants work on property, I’ve done that a couple of times, it was always interesting to spend a morning at the Zoo flushing out hydrants while tigers and gorillas eyeball you). One of the members from 88 had unique collar brass made up, instead of E88, we had a “ZOO”  pin that we wore on our dress uniform shirt collar for company identification.

North of the Bronx Zoo and directly opposite on Fordham Road is the “Bronx Botanical Gardens”, a 250 acre landscape that supports over one million living plants. One block west of the Botanical Gardens is Fordham University campus, Fordham University's ranking in the latest edition of Best Colleges is #74.

Since I had already stopped by the firehouse a few days earlier during our last day of proby school to drop off my equipment, I was assigned to one of twenty five groups and given a locker for my work duty uniforms. I was assigned to group fourteen, one group away from thirteen which was “Captain Tough Timmy’s” group, and of course the warnings about working with him continued to en masse from the members (At that time, Captain Tim Gallagher was on medical leave recovering from serious burns he received in the performance of rescuing a person with disabilities).



After greeting “the nicest guy in the firehouse”, Ralph, I proceeded quietly up the stairs to the third floor passing the dark second floor bunk room where the members were still in the racks. I was eager, excited and anxious all at the same time as I fumbled around with my lock and dressed into my work duty jeans, blue tee shirt with the misaligned Florian Cross and black work boots. I noticed the hallways and locker room was very neat and tidy, there are about twenty dark oak wooden wall lockers that are inserted into both walls, and about a dozen metal lockers placed together at the far end of the third floor, that’s where my locker was. The wooden lockers were for senior men, they were a good size, about six feet deep and four feet wide, a wood bar to hang your uniform and a small dresser inside.

Quietly I tip-toed back downstairs...Grabbed my new rubber coat off the rack, it was hard to miss since it was the only one with bright yellow stripes. Our “sized” helmets did not arrive before graduation so we were told to take the ugly round pot lids to your assignment and use them until your official helmet was delivered. I had no intention of wearing that odd shaped ridiculous chapeau, so I repainted my DCFD leather helmet back to black from yellow. The DCFD insert was the same style of FDNY and so I just replaced the 21 with the orange “pumpkin” proby insert. When my helmet did arrive, it was too freakin’ tight on my head. I resorted to different techniques attempting to stretch it slightly larger for comfort. Remember, in proby school we all had very short hair, but once we graduated, most of us let our hair grow out, and that little extra hair made all the difference. Anyway, I did get it to fit more comfortable, but it was still tight. 

Now downstairs in the quiet firehouse and in the kitchen I started immediately to clean the sink and began meeting new colleagues. The Belmont firehouse was considered a “Senior House”, most of the firefighters I would work alongside were War Year Officers and Veterans, but the last few years 88 was beginning to receive a bunch of us young bucks from the latest test. I would meet and work alongside two newfound special friends in E 88 when we shared the back step during our budding career…(Retired B2 Commander) Ed Kearon and Fireman Marty O'neill...all three of us served as young firefighters under the tutelage of Tough Timmy Gallagher. Even today we continue to enjoy each others company and friendship, in fact we often have lunch together and recall the good ol’ Glory Days.

As a recycled proby I was fortunate I already had a heads up proby experience with the DCFD and completely understood what a proby should be doing... I wouldn’t need a learning curve. My first couple of months I was not allowed to do mutuals or work twenty-fours, just straight tours. My philosophy was simple enough, if anyone did not like whatever menial task had to be done, that was my que to step up. First in the sink and last out, last to sit at the dinner table and first to get back into the sink, throw out the garbage.. Last into the bunk, get up during the night to cover the watch when the Truck went out, be the first up in the morning to clean the kitchen and get the first pot of coffee brewing, throw out the garbage, strip the beds during committee work, wash, dry, fold sheets and put away, throw out the garbage, do change of tour inspection of self- contained breathing apparatus , throw out garbage, sweep, mop,  polish brass fittings and poles, keep moving...did I mention throw out the garbage?

E 88 has been a distinguished and highly respected company, we were also in the top ten “Runs” category for Engine Companies for many years. As I recall, the busiest night tour I had on-the-job was with 88; in addition to our usual adv fires and emergencies, we responded to thirty runs (Prior to EMS calls) before midnight due to a disgruntled person of the community who was riding a motorcycle and pulling boxes in the neighborhood. Recently I met up with the covering officer at a retirement party who worked that night in E 88, Lieutenant Jon, he confirmed my recollection and even added that we caught a good first due job later that tour, too!.


Forever good buddies to the end! FF Martin O'neill and BC Ed Kearon!

I remained with E 88 for four years until I made first grade. I am humbled and honored to have worked alongside some of the most respected and admired firefighters and officers of the FDNY. But, now I have transferred across the floor to Ladder 38 (Department Order 115 dated September 5, 1986); the “Flagship of the Bronx”;  L 38 is a well greased, skillful and experienced ladder company loaded with “Senior Members” and Uncle Jack, er, make that Lieutenant Mayne.

(FOR ADDITIONAL E 88 STORIES REFER TO PAGE 1 OF "GLORY DAYS"

NEXT: "YULE LOG", Remembrances...

Thanks for reading, Hope you enjoyed!     KMG-365
« Last Edit: Today at 08:19:53 PM by JohnnyGage »

Online 68jk09

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Re: GLORY DAYS
« Reply #302 on: Today at 08:20:46 PM »
^^^^^ Very interesting & well written as always..... PS shirts are almost sold out..... https://www.ebay.com/c/24022394222?iid=132635678012

 

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