my buff years

jbendick

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                                          My Early Buff Years.

My early buff years were spent going to fires in Yonkers N.Y. It all started for me when I was  old enough to join the Civil Defense. In Yonkers we had a Civil Defense Rescue Squad, organized during the 1950?s. This was at the height of the cold war. There were squads all over the country, mostly manned by members of Veteran Posts.
    My father was named chief of the Yonkers Unit because of his experience as a fireman during the 2nd World War. His job was to fight fires during and after bombing raids. At one incident he was blown off the engine when an ammo dump exploded. It was also for his close association with the Yonkers Fire Department. As a child during the depression, he was always doing things with the fire dept. Being  from a large family, 11 children, food was pretty scarce. He started as a young boy running errands for the firemen at Headquarters.  Eventually they became like godfathers.
In the late fifty?s, besides training and going to large scale drills, they started going to multiple alarm fires and emergences. We converted a work truck into a searchlight truck and also assisted in setting up fire lines. We would watch to see if anyone needed assistance. We weren?t there to do fire duty. It was forbidden to operate a line or even touch a hook.
When I entered Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx at age thirteen, I was allowed to go to fires with the stipulation that I had to go to school the next day. In 4 years I never missed a day.
Being that the two rescue trucks were stored in the quarters of Engine 9 in Yonkers, I was aware that we were guest in their house.  I treated everyone with the upmost respect. I never left the apparatus floor unless I was invited.  My father reminded me of whatever I saw or heard there, stays there.
By going to fires I started to realize who the real hero?s in life were. It started me on a journey to where I wanted to become a Yonkers Fireman. I got to see some great firemen in a great department.  I was amazed on how much fire a 3 man engine co could put out, in a short time.
My real buff days lasted until I went into the Army. Prior to being discharged from the service, I took the test for the FDNY. Having  a high number on the list, I also was able to take the agility test. Thank God I was in the best shape of my life. Being only  5?6?, my toughest event was the  8? wall.  By shear desire and the grace of God, I was successful in going over the wall.
After getting out of the service on August 8th, 1968 I got the notice that I would be hired by the FDNY. My first official day on the job was Sept.14th 1968. Hard to imagine that one month after leaving the Army at age twenty one I was on the job.  On this date 34 years later, my son Thomas was also appointed to the FDNY.  It?s true when they say it?s in the blood all 3 of my sons were on the job.
I thank my parents for their love and guidance. I also thank my wife Madeline and my children for their support during my career.  Because of my love for the job and the FDNY, I was able to give my family a good life. Finally I thank God because without Him none of this would be possible.






 

nfd2004

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Jun 22, 2007
Messages
6,338
John, I think that is a GREAT Story. I've known you personally for many years since I first became a member of this site. You were the FIRST one to invite both myself and my wife to a great dinner at a local Yonkers restaurant. Talking to you I learned how you had been a FDNY War Years firefighter working in some of the busiest fire companies throughout NYC. I remember you telling me of your sons on the fire dept as well. There are also things I read here that I never knew.

John, you and I both were fire buffs. But not all fire buffs became firefighters. Some became dispatchers, doctors (as my long time friend, Dr Tim Day, in Philadelphia), Bankers, Stock Brokers, Supervisors, Insurance Company owners, High ranking Military Members, Medics, etc.

Buffs come from all walks of life. Buffs respect those who fight fires and respond to citizens in their most desperate times of need.

John, I think now that you took the time to tell your story of how you got interested in the fire dept., I hope others will too. I hope to get to tell mine as well.

Basically, "EVERYBODY" here has their own story to tell. We all have the same interest if we are on here. We ALL got started somehow. But NOT everybody on here is a Firefighter, volunteer or city paid. But no matter what your job is/was, we couldn't make it without you.
 

mack

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Messages
8,842
John - Thanks for sharing your story.  You are a credit to FDNY, the US Army and everything you are associated with.  You and Madeline have a terrific family.  You are a first-rate firefighter, officer, father, husband, grandfather and friend.
 

fdce54

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Messages
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That was great John. Now we wait for Uncle Wilfred's.
 

mack

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Messages
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fdce54 said:
That was great John. Now we wait for Uncle Wilfred's.

Willy D is still in his early buff years.  He never grew up.
 

nfd2004

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Jun 22, 2007
Messages
6,338
fdce54 said:
That was great John. Now we wait for Uncle Wilfred's.

My father was my Role Model. He was a firefighter in Bridgeport, Ct and at a very young age, he would bring me to the firehouse with him to pick up his pay check. As a kid, that was the thing I liked doing the most.

A few years later, I would chase the fires on my bicycle. Sometimes I'd see my father at the job and I was sure proud of him. I would even tell the on lookers that my father is here fighting this fire.

Later I was working part time as a clerk in a neighborhood drug store. A guy came in and for some reason, I just started talking to him. I told him that I wanted to get on the fire dept and as it turned out, he was a FDNY firefighter assigned to Engine 210 on Carlton Ave and they shared quarters with Rescue 2. He invited me down to spend the day at the firehouse.

I couldn't believe it and for me, this was the Major Leagues. This was in 1968 and the FDNY War Years were just beginning. Then Lt Hamilton invited me down to spend some Saturday night with them. He also asked me if I had any friend, bring him too. As it turned out, I would bring my 13 year old brother and the two of us were both "hooked". We had been introduced to the busiest fire dept in the world.

Crystal Radios just started coming out and we could hear the FDNY in Bridgeport coming in load and clear. We listened and tried to follow where the busiest places were. I remember going to Harlem because those companies were busy and those numbered streets were pretty easy to follow.

A little more time goes by and the book "Report from Engine Co 82" comes out, so we get a map and find our way there. When we got there other buffs were already hanging out so we hooked up with them.

From then on we were like drug addicts. The more we got the more we wanted. Meantime Bridgeport's work also started to pick up. We were chasing fires every night. 

My brother and I also became volunteer firefighters in the adjoining town (Fairfield). It was a combination department and we all got along great. Many of the members, including at that time "johnd248" were all into it.

I knew I really wanted to be a firefighter even though I had a good job as a letter carrier at the time. I took a few test and things just weren't working out for me. My buddy tells me about Norwich, Ct giving a test. I didn't even know where the place was. But as it turned out, I got the job on May 25, 1975. Everything ended up working perfect for me.

It still allowed me to chase fires in NYC and Bridgeport. I was also introduced to Providence, RI where they too were catching their share. Of course I made a few trips to Boston, Newark, Jersey City, etc. But buffing the FDNY was the place I liked the most. I saw fires in these cities every time I went there.

I could NOT have planned it any better myself. For any guy who was into the fire dept starting from a little kid visiting the firehouse with his dad, the timing in my life was perfect and I wouldn't change a thing.

Today of course no more of those cold nights or hot summer streets for me. Running down those streets with camera and scanner in hand. I guess looking at it from around age 4 until now, I guess over 60 years of buffing is a pretty good estimate for me, maybe more.

I was blessed with a wife who understood my interest. I was so proud of my father who once was awarded the Bridgeport Fire Depts Highest Medal - "The Gold Star" for the rescue of a squatter who I actually met years later in that city of 150,000 people. The fire trucks were going by and he told me those guys saved his life. I asked him about it and he told me it was a fire on Fulton St. I couldn't believe it. He was referring to my father.

I had a great job where every once in awhile, we had a few buffs watch us work too. Today the guys that I used to watch fight fires back then have retired or passed on. Many of the guys I didn't know then but I do now. However, in a much quieter setting today I sure enjoy talking to them about my buffing days. 
 

mack

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Joined
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Messages
8,842
nfd2004 said:
fdce54 said:
That was great John. Now we wait for Uncle Wilfred's.

My father was my Role Model. He was a firefighter in Bridgeport, Ct and at a very young age, he would bring me to the firehouse with him to pick up his pay check. As a kid, that was the thing I liked doing the most.

A few years later, I would chase the fires on my bicycle. Sometimes I'd see my father at the job and I was sure proud of him. I would even tell the on lookers that my father is here fighting this fire.

Later I was working part time as a clerk in a neighborhood drug store. A guy came in and for some reason, I just started talking to him. I told him that I wanted to get on the fire dept and as it turned out, he was a FDNY firefighter assigned to Engine 210 on Carlton Ave and they shared quarters with Rescue 2. He invited me down to spend the day at the firehouse.

I couldn't believe it and for me, this was the Major Leagues. This was in 1968 and the FDNY War Years were just beginning. Then Lt Hamilton invited me down to spend some Saturday night with them. He also asked me if I had any friend, bring him too. As it turned out, I would bring my 13 year old brother and the two of us were both "hooked". We had been introduced to the busiest fire dept in the world.

Crystal Radios just started coming out and we could hear the FDNY in Bridgeport coming in load and clear. We listened and tried to follow where the busiest places were. I remember going to Harlem because those companies were busy and those numbered streets were pretty easy to follow.

A little more time goes by and the book "Report from Engine Co 82" comes out, so we get a map and find our way there. When we got there other buffs were already hanging out so we hooked up with them.

From then on we were like drug addicts. The more we got the more we wanted. Meantime Bridgeport's work also started to pick up. We were chasing fires every night. 

My brother and I also became volunteer firefighters in the adjoining town (Fairfield). It was a combination department and we all got along great. Many of the members, including at that time "johnd248" were all into it.

I knew I really wanted to be a firefighter even though I had a good job as a letter carrier at the time. I took a few test and things just weren't working out for me. My buddy tells me about Norwich, Ct giving a test. I didn't even know where the place was. But as it turned out, I got the job on May 25, 1975. Everything ended up working perfect for me.

It still allowed me to chase fires in NYC and Bridgeport. I was also introduced to Providence, RI where they too were catching their share. Of course I made a few trips to Boston, Newark, Jersey City, etc. But buffing the FDNY was the place I liked the most. I saw fires in these cities every time I went there.

I could NOT have planned it any better myself. For any guy who was into the fire dept starting from a little kid visiting the firehouse with his dad, the timing in my life was perfect and I wouldn't change a thing.

Today of course no more of those cold nights or hot summer streets for me. Running down those streets with camera and scanner in hand. I guess looking at it from around age 4 until now, I guess over 60 years of buffing is a pretty good estimate for me, maybe more.

I was blessed with a wife who understood my interest. I was so proud of my father who once was awarded the Bridgeport Fire Depts Highest Medal - "The Gold Star" for the rescue of a squatter who I actually met years later in that city of 150,000 people. The fire trucks were going by and he told me those guys saved his life. I asked him about it and he told me it was a fire on Fulton St. I couldn't believe it. He was referring to my father.

I had a great job where every once in awhile, we had a few buffs watch us work too. Today the guys that I used to watch fight fires back then have retired or passed on. Many of the guys I didn't know then but I do now. However, in a much quieter setting today I sure enjoy talking to them about my buffing days.


Young Willy D buffing:


 

fdce54

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Joined
Dec 26, 2007
Messages
1,080
nfd2004 said:
fdce54 said:
That was great John. Now we wait for Uncle Wilfred's.

My father was my Role Model. He was a firefighter in Bridgeport, Ct and at a very young age, he would bring me to the firehouse with him to pick up his pay check. As a kid, that was the thing I liked doing the most.

A few years later, I would chase the fires on my bicycle. Sometimes I'd see my father at the job and I was sure proud of him. I would even tell the on lookers that my father is here fighting this fire.

Later I was working part time as a clerk in a neighborhood drug store. A guy came in and for some reason, I just started talking to him. I told him that I wanted to get on the fire dept and as it turned out, he was a FDNY firefighter assigned to Engine 210 on Carlton Ave and they shared quarters with Rescue 2. He invited me down to spend the day at the firehouse.

I couldn't believe it and for me, this was the Major Leagues. This was in 1968 and the FDNY War Years were just beginning. Then Lt Hamilton invited me down to spend some Saturday night with them. He also asked me if I had any friend, bring him too. As it turned out, I would bring my 13 year old brother and the two of us were both "hooked". We had been introduced to the busiest fire dept in the world.

Crystal Radios just started coming out and we could hear the FDNY in Bridgeport coming in load and clear. We listened and tried to follow where the busiest places were. I remember going to Harlem because those companies were busy and those numbered streets were pretty easy to follow.

A little more time goes by and the book "Report from Engine Co 82" comes out, so we get a map and find our way there. When we got there other buffs were already hanging out so we hooked up with them.

From then on we were like drug addicts. The more we got the more we wanted. Meantime Bridgeport's work also started to pick up. We were chasing fires every night. 

My brother and I also became volunteer firefighters in the adjoining town (Fairfield). It was a combination department and we all got along great. Many of the members, including at that time "johnd248" were all into it.

I knew I really wanted to be a firefighter even though I had a good job as a letter carrier at the time. I took a few test and things just weren't working out for me. My buddy tells me about Norwich, Ct giving a test. I didn't even know where the place was. But as it turned out, I got the job on May 25, 1975. Everything ended up working perfect for me.

It still allowed me to chase fires in NYC and Bridgeport. I was also introduced to Providence, RI where they too were catching their share. Of course I made a few trips to Boston, Newark, Jersey City, etc. But buffing the FDNY was the place I liked the most. I saw fires in these cities every time I went there.

I could NOT have planned it any better myself. For any guy who was into the fire dept starting from a little kid visiting the firehouse with his dad, the timing in my life was perfect and I wouldn't change a thing.

Today of course no more of those cold nights or hot summer streets for me. Running down those streets with camera and scanner in hand. I guess looking at it from around age 4 until now, I guess over 60 years of buffing is a pretty good estimate for me, maybe more.

I was blessed with a wife who understood my interest. I was so proud of my father who once was awarded the Bridgeport Fire Depts Highest Medal - "The Gold Star" for the rescue of a squatter who I actually met years later in that city of 150,000 people. The fire trucks were going by and he told me those guys saved his life. I asked him about it and he told me it was a fire on Fulton St. I couldn't believe it. He was referring to my father.

I had a great job where every once in awhile, we had a few buffs watch us work too. Today the guys that I used to watch fight fires back then have retired or passed on. Many of the guys I didn't know then but I do now. However, in a much quieter setting today I sure enjoy talking to them about my buffing days.
Well said Uncle Wilfred. Thank you.
 

manhattan

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Joined
Dec 7, 2007
Messages
1,883
John and Bill,

Thank you both for sharing these histories.  Everything aside, you're two gentlemen - among many others on this site - whose lives have been, and continue to be, dedicated to the ultimate calling of service to others.  No more can be asked of anyone and no one deserves better accolades.  Bravo Zulu, gentlemen!
 

nfd2004

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Jun 22, 2007
Messages
6,338
There are so many GREAT Stories out there from guys on this site. I only know part of them. Guys here with AMAZING Lives who somehow got interested in the fire dept. Whether it be chasing fires, taking rig shots, the history of rigs or various departments. We all have the same interest.

I enjoyed telling you my story. I think John enjoyed telling his as well.

I wish that I had the right to tell some stories about so many other members on here. It doesn't matter what they did for a living. You would be amazed at some of the stories I know of. Right from our own members here. I like to be able to call them my friends. Some of them I haven't even met but I know what they've done.

Just like my father was to me, if there's any Role Models out there today for the younger people, believe me, "this site has got them".

I guess we all have our purpose in life. When those FDNY War Years Firefighters were talking to me about the job, or they let me watch them work, little did either of us know then, that they would have such a profound effect on me in my later years. Or how they would have an effect on a group of about 60 other firefighters in a small city about 100 or so miles away.

So I hope that John and I are NOT the only one's to tell their stories. And it's not only from firefighters.
 

CFDMarshal

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Joined
Feb 27, 2010
Messages
1,068
Stories like these are what makes this such a great site! Great people and great stories and great friendships! I will write the Evolution of the redneck firefighter very soon!
 

fdce54

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Dec 26, 2007
Messages
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CFDMarshal said:
Stories like these are what makes this such a great site! Great people and great stories and great friendships! I will write the Evolution of the redneck firefighter very soon!
I can't wait for this one ;D.
 

1261Truckie

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Messages
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Captain B and Bill,
As others have said, thanks for sharing your stories
Jim (aka 1261truckie)
 

69 METS

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jbendick said:
                                          My Early Buff Years.

My early buff years were spent going to fires in Yonkers N.Y. It all started for me when I was  old enough to join the Civil Defense. In Yonkers we had a Civil Defense Rescue Squad, organized during the 1950?s. This was at the height of the cold war. There were squads all over the country, mostly manned by members of Veteran Posts.
    My father was named chief of the Yonkers Unit because of his experience as a fireman during the 2nd World War. His job was to fight fires during and after bombing raids. At one incident he was blown off the engine when an ammo dump exploded. It was also for his close association with the Yonkers Fire Department. As a child during the depression, he was always doing things with the fire dept. Being  from a large family, 11 children, food was pretty scarce. He started as a young boy running errands for the firemen at Headquarters.  Eventually they became like godfathers.
In the late fifty?s, besides training and going to large scale drills, they started going to multiple alarm fires and emergences. We converted a work truck into a searchlight truck and also assisted in setting up fire lines. We would watch to see if anyone needed assistance. We weren?t there to do fire duty. It was forbidden to operate a line or even touch a hook.
When I entered Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx at age thirteen, I was allowed to go to fires with the stipulation that I had to go to school the next day. In 4 years I never missed a day.
Being that the two rescue trucks were stored in the quarters of Engine 9 in Yonkers, I was aware that we were guest in their house.  I treated everyone with the upmost respect. I never left the apparatus floor unless I was invited.  My father reminded me of whatever I saw or heard there, stays there.
By going to fires I started to realize who the real hero?s in life were. It started me on a journey to where I wanted to become a Yonkers Fireman. I got to see some great firemen in a great department.  I was amazed on how much fire a 3 man engine co could put out, in a short time.
My real buff days lasted until I went into the Army. Prior to being discharged from the service, I took the test for the FDNY. Having  a high number on the list, I also was able to take the agility test. Thank God I was in the best shape of my life. Being only  5?6?, my toughest event was the  8? wall.  By shear desire and the grace of God, I was successful in going over the wall.
After getting out of the service on August 8th, 1968 I got the notice that I would be hired by the FDNY. My first official day on the job was Sept.14th 1968. Hard to imagine that one month after leaving the Army at age twenty one I was on the job.  On this date 34 years later, my son Thomas was also appointed to the FDNY.  It?s true when they say it?s in the blood all 3 of my sons were on the job.
I thank my parents for their love and guidance. I also thank my wife Madeline and my children for their support during my career.  Because of my love for the job and the FDNY, I was able to give my family a good life. Finally I thank God because without Him none of this would be possible.

Great story John. I'm privileged to have worked with you when we were assigned to the Animal House. Many great memories (fire duty, ball breaking and brotherhood.). You are well respected in the FDNY as an honorable, knowledgeable and experienced fire officer. I'm proud to call you my brother and my friend.
 

johnd248

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Messages
4,273
Like Willy D, my father was to blame.  He was an early member of the Fire Bell Club and we had a Hallicrafters tunable radio that received FDNY activity, when it didn't stray off frequency.  I got interested in FDNY and rode my bike to the closest firehouse, E 248 at 2261 Church Avenue.  The men on watch always chased me away because they had a chief in quarters.  That made me go to E 281/L 147 where I was welcomed.  Used to go to the store for them and they would give me a soda.  Later, I worked in a bank on the corner of Flatbush and Church Avenues.  The brothers at E 248 had a problem cashing pay checks because the bank required each fireman to come in with his own check.  I knew most of them by then from going to jobs in the neighborhood.  Knowing that the on-duty crew could not come to the bank, I broke the rules and told others I would cash up to five checks per visit.  This worked, no one ever missed their money, and I got a free lunch in the firehouse every pay day.  I used to help pick up lines after a fire and was once invited to ride the back step back to the firehouse to get a cup of coffee.  In 1964, I was invited by the company captain, Bob Lindgren (father of 69 Mets on this site) to sign some papers, receive some training, and ride the rig any time I wanted.
Fifty four years later I am still responding to calls but let the younger ones do the firefighting.  My nine years at E 248 were an awesome experience: got to work with great officers and men, saw a lot, did a lot, and went where I wasn't supposed to go a lot.  I also became the "aide to the aide" for Battalion 41, rode with them occasionally, and worked typing fire reports.  As they say, the rest is history.
 

fdce54

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Joined
Dec 26, 2007
Messages
1,080
mack said:
nfd2004 said:
fdce54 said:
That was great John. Now we wait for Uncle Wilfred's.

My father was my Role Model. He was a firefighter in Bridgeport, Ct and at a very young age, he would bring me to the firehouse with him to pick up his pay check. As a kid, that was the thing I liked doing the most.

A few years later, I would chase the fires on my bicycle. Sometimes I'd see my father at the job and I was sure proud of him. I would even tell the on lookers that my father is here fighting this fire.

Later I was working part time as a clerk in a neighborhood drug store. A guy came in and for some reason, I just started talking to him. I told him that I wanted to get on the fire dept and as it turned out, he was a FDNY firefighter assigned to Engine 210 on Carlton Ave and they shared quarters with Rescue 2. He invited me down to spend the day at the firehouse.

I couldn't believe it and for me, this was the Major Leagues. This was in 1968 and the FDNY War Years were just beginning. Then Lt Hamilton invited me down to spend some Saturday night with them. He also asked me if I had any friend, bring him too. As it turned out, I would bring my 13 year old brother and the two of us were both "hooked". We had been introduced to the busiest fire dept in the world.

Crystal Radios just started coming out and we could hear the FDNY in Bridgeport coming in load and clear. We listened and tried to follow where the busiest places were. I remember going to Harlem because those companies were busy and those numbered streets were pretty easy to follow.

A little more time goes by and the book "Report from Engine Co 82" comes out, so we get a map and find our way there. When we got there other buffs were already hanging out so we hooked up with them.

From then on we were like drug addicts. The more we got the more we wanted. Meantime Bridgeport's work also started to pick up. We were chasing fires every night. 

My brother and I also became volunteer firefighters in the adjoining town (Fairfield). It was a combination department and we all got along great. Many of the members, including at that time "johnd248" were all into it.

I knew I really wanted to be a firefighter even though I had a good job as a letter carrier at the time. I took a few test and things just weren't working out for me. My buddy tells me about Norwich, Ct giving a test. I didn't even know where the place was. But as it turned out, I got the job on May 25, 1975. Everything ended up working perfect for me.

It still allowed me to chase fires in NYC and Bridgeport. I was also introduced to Providence, RI where they too were catching their share. Of course I made a few trips to Boston, Newark, Jersey City, etc. But buffing the FDNY was the place I liked the most. I saw fires in these cities every time I went there.

I could NOT have planned it any better myself. For any guy who was into the fire dept starting from a little kid visiting the firehouse with his dad, the timing in my life was perfect and I wouldn't change a thing.

Today of course no more of those cold nights or hot summer streets for me. Running down those streets with camera and scanner in hand. I guess looking at it from around age 4 until now, I guess over 60 years of buffing is a pretty good estimate for me, maybe more.

I was blessed with a wife who understood my interest. I was so proud of my father who once was awarded the Bridgeport Fire Depts Highest Medal - "The Gold Star" for the rescue of a squatter who I actually met years later in that city of 150,000 people. The fire trucks were going by and he told me those guys saved his life. I asked him about it and he told me it was a fire on Fulton St. I couldn't believe it. He was referring to my father.

I had a great job where every once in awhile, we had a few buffs watch us work too. Today the guys that I used to watch fight fires back then have retired or passed on. Many of the guys I didn't know then but I do now. However, in a much quieter setting today I sure enjoy talking to them about my buffing days.


Young Willy D buffing:

Young Willie D in his father's car:

 

raybrag

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Joined
Apr 1, 2007
Messages
2,771
Now, now, Frank.  You shouldn't disparage Mr, Doody like that.  I was able to find a long lost photo of Uncle Wilmern and his Dad that shows him in his Sunday best just before heading to church . . .

699552-mortimer_snerd.gif


 

nfd2004

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Jun 22, 2007
Messages
6,338
I guess maybe there is some resemblance to Mr Doody.

Also what I would like to say related to the Buff thread is a few years ago through this site member and good friend, Retired Chief Jack K ?68jk09?, contacted that firefighter that I had met about 50 years ago from Engine Co 210 and  let him know how things had played out for my brother and I during that time frame.

How both my brother and I continued with our interest in the FDNY, and best of all, that firefighter Tony T had remembered us.

For myself and my brother the FDNY interest all started with a brief conversation between my self, a 17/18 year old kid working as a part time clerk in a neighborhood drug store and this firefighter.
 
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