Role Model

nfd2004

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I'd like to share with you a little story about a "Role Model" I had most of my life. I nicknamed him "Smokey" or "Smoke" for short. He was my father and he really didn't mind that I called him "Smoke". The reason I called him that was because he smoked a lot of cigars, and was a Firefighter in Bridgeport, Ct. The name just kind of fit him.

  I went to Catholic Grammer School and the Nuns always wanted us to be a priest, a doctor, or a lawyer. I wasn't doing very good in school, so my father and I had to met with the Nun, while my mother stayed home to take care of my brothers and sister. The Nun asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up. I said; "Be a Fireman". It really wasn't what I think she wanted to hear. And I think my father was actually a little embarrassed over my response. I was probadly about 9 or 10 years old and in those days firemen worked long hours for low pay. I think they worked Seven Days, with Two Off, then Seven Nights with Two Off.

  I remember "Smoke" and his friend, who was also on the job, studying for promotion exams at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and of course "Smoke" would have his cigar. I would be sitting nearby as they asked each other questions. And then every once in a while they would talk about the "Big Job" they had. I sure used to like listening.

  To be Continued ..........

 
 

nfd2004

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(Continued). Later both got promoted to Lt. One day while walking home from school there was a Big Job in a Six Family House. As I watched the fire, I heard the Chief say over the fire radio, "Send me Truck 5". That was the rig "Smoke" was on as Lt and he was working that day. I told everybody in the crowd watching the fire; "they just called for Truck 5 and my father is coming". I don"t think they really cared, but "I" sure did. As the open cab Tiller Ladder pulled up, my father waved and then they put the ladder to the roof. I watched the entire fire until just about everybody was gone. Then I ran home to tell my mother that I saw "Smoke" at a fire.

  Later while he was still a Lt on Truck 5 a job came in on Fulton St. It was reported as a Vacant House Fire. Smoke went around the back to the second floor. He had a light with him and for some reason an axe too. Apparently he had to force his way in. (they didn"t have what we know today as a forcible entry team). Through the smoke and fire, he found a guy, unconscious in the bathtub and he dragged him out. At that time the only truck to carry oxygen was their Rescue, called Squad 5, and they couldn"t get the compartment door open. It was just too close to a parked car and they were blocked in. So "Smoke" gave mouth to mouth rescusiation on this guy. The guy took a deep breathe and started breathing again. Later I remember "Smoke" telling me he was wearing a "Brown Coat" and the hospital had to give this guy a permanet stoma. "Smoke" received the "Highest Medal" in the Bridgeport Fire Dept for his actions that night. In his 30 plus years only about 10 to 12 guys ever received this Medal called "The Gold Star".
                                  .............Continued..........


 

nfd2004

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(Continued).  About a year later I was waiting for a bus to go home. A homeless guy came up to me and asked if I could spare any change for a coffee. I wouldn"t give him any money but I bought him a coffee at the diner across the street. I had one too. I was about 16 years old at the time. While drinking the coffee the fire engines went by. Then the Homeless guy said to me, "Those guys saved my life". I said; "What do you mean" ? He then told me he was rescued from a fire on Fulton St, and started telling me the story. Then I looked and the guy was wearing a "Brown Coat" as "Smoke" had described, and then I noticed the "Stoma" in his neck. I asked him if his name was Ed Martin (I remembered the name from the newspaper), and he said "Yes". I couldn"t wait to tell Smoke.

  "Smoke" retired as Captain in 1978 about the same time my brother went on the job. Prior to going on the Fire Dept., "Smoke" was a Combat Medic in WWII. Sadly Smoke passed away in 2007. He never became famous. He was just my father, and a fireman, doing his job to support his wife and four kids.
                      ..........The End.......
 

Eugene Daly

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Great story and your pride and respect for your father is very admirable!!  I know the feeling!!
 

mack

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NFD2004 - What a great story.  I can understand why you were so proud of your dad.  The fact that you were able to find someone who was saved by his actions years earlier is remarkable.  Thank you and thanks to your dad.
 

nfd2004

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"Happy Birthday, Smoke". From Red, Taylor, Bucky, Mary Ann, and your grand kids. We have Not Forgotten you. You represent what "The Greatest Generation" is all about. You grew up during the Great Depression, Was a Combat Medic during World War II, and as a Bridgeport, Ct firefighter saved the life of a homeless civilian named Eddie Martin, at a fire in a vacant frame building on Fulton St. You broke down the bathroom door and found him lying in the bathtub. You got him out of that second floor burning apartment, and then giving him your own breathes, using mouth to mouth, you were able to save his life.
  You raised four kids, and Never missed paying a bill. "Happy 85th Birthday Smoke". We sure do miss you.
 
 
B

Bigandy

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Great story NFD! Reminds me of my old man and grandfather.



 

Bxboro

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Nice story nfd...........The (Big) Apple doesn't fall far from the tree!!!
 

nfd2004

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For those that read the above about "Smoke", let me tell you a little bit more. But in this case it isn't only about my father, as there's a few others on here that can relate to what I have to say.
  If you were one of the lucky ones to have your father on the fire dept while you were a kid, I don't think any of us would trade that for anything. Whether we called him Dad, Pops, or "Smoke", it was really great to have a father that you could look up to as a Role Model. Oh yeah, there were Birthdays, Christmas Holidays, and Fourth of July picnics that you missed. And while everybody else was going to the beach on those hot weekends, you stayed at home. We Never owned a New car, and the Treat for the WEEK was an ice cream cone, and watch the airplanes take off and land. A trip to "Freedom Land Amusement Park" (now home to Co-Op City in th Bronx) was our summer vacation.
  But going to the firehouse on pay day (before Direct Deposit) was one of the biggest treats. Sitting in the rigs with a helmet on was almost as good as Christmas Day. Sometimes the guys would let me help them wash the trucks or sweep the floor. When my father came home from work with a brown paper bag full of wet, dirty clothes, meant he caught a good job.
  I guess its really kind of hard to try and explain to anybody how great it was to have a father that fought fires for a living. We grew up in a low income household, and sure missed a few of those holidays. But I bet if you asked, "none of us" would trade that for anything.
 

anesti

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nfd2004 said:
I'd like to share with you a little story about a "Role Model" I had most of my life. I nicknamed him "Smokey" or "Smoke" for short. He was my father and he really didn't mind that I called him "Smoke". The reason I called him that was because he smoked a lot of cigars, and was a Firefighter in Bridgeport, Ct. The name just kind of fit him.

  I went to Catholic Grammer School and the Nuns always wanted us to be a priest, a doctor, or a lawyer. I wasn't doing very good in school, so my father and I had to met with the Nun, while my mother stayed home to take care of my brothers and sister. The Nun asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up. I said; "Be a Fireman". It really wasn't what I think she wanted to hear. And I think my father was actually a little embarrassed over my response. I was probadly about 9 or 10 years old and in those days firemen worked long hours for low pay. I think they worked Seven Days, with Two Off, then Seven Nights with Two Off.

  I remember "Smoke" and his friend, who was also on the job, studying for promotion exams at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and of course "Smoke" would have his cigar. I would be sitting nearby as they asked each other questions. And then every once in a while they would talk about the "Big Job" they had. I sure used to like listening.

   To be Continued ..........

   

Hearing you say that story bill never gets old,i enjoy it more and more everytime i hear it, also i remember kfd274 saying you should tell the nyn you wanted to become a fire department Chaplin.
 

nfd2004

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I went to Catholic Grammer School and the Nuns always wanted us to be a priest, a doctor, or a lawyer. I wasn't doing very good in school, so my father and I had to met with the Nun, while my mother stayed home to take care of my brothers and sister. The Nun asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up. I said; "Be a Fireman". It really wasn't what I think she wanted to hear. And I think my father was actually a little embarrassed over my response. I was probadly about 9 or 10 years old and in those days firemen worked long hours for low pay. I think they worked Seven Days, with Two Off, then Seven Nights with Two Off. ...


Yeah "Anesti", Kevin (kfd274) had a good call that night. I should have told that Nun that I wanted to be the Fire Dept Chaplain instead of a fireman. If only I had thought about that 50 or so years ago. Maybe I wouldn't have been in so much trouble if I said that.
 

68jk09

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nfd...in regards to your reply # 9 above.......i could not agree more.
 

nfd2004

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68jk09 said:
nfd...in regards to your reply # 9 above.......i could not agree more.
  Over the last few months, I've been lucky enough to meet some of the members on here, or else talk to a few on the phone. With a few, I've found out that I wasn't the only one to grow up with a father who made a living as a firefighter. Those that did, I found out that we all had a lot in common. We were all very Proud of our fathers. They were all Role Models and they were all good providers for our families. We all Loved going to the firehouse with our dads, and some even told me how they would ride the rigs in those days along with their father. I was told by one member on this site how he was on the job, and his son would have his bags packed on a Friday nights to ride with his father on that busy rig. Today, his father is retired from the job, and he has three son's on the fire dept.
  And when everybody else was working, it was our fathers that were always willing to help. I remember one time when the "FIRST Astronaut was taking off". I was in the Seventh or Eighth Grade. It was "Smoke", and another Off Duty Firefighter that climbed onto that peaked roof of that Three and a Half Story School, to set up a TV Antenna (long, long before Cable TV), so we could all watch that Historic Launch. We were some lucky kids that day to see that.
  That's just one of those many stories of what it was like to have a father who risked his life fighting fires part of his life, and when not doing that, were just the Greatest Dads anybody could ask for.
 

rdm258

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Willy D, Great story and your father sounded like a GREAT man. Thank you for the post. RD
 

nfd2004

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Rob, I'm sure you can relate very closely to the story. I'm sure having a father as a New York City Police Officer is very similiar. Not having "Dad" or "Pops" around on those Fourth of July's, or Christmas Mornings, was part of it. But I'm sure when your father came home after working those busy Brooklyn Streets, both of you were very glad to see each other.
 Rob, you and I had fathers that went to work, and we just hoped that everything was okay. Of course as a young child, we just figured that "Dad" had left to go to work. I'm sure it wasn't that easy for our mothers to deal with. It sure takes a special kind of woman to deal with something like that, espically with raising young ones. They too had to give up the holidays as their husbands went to work.
 One thing for sure, they were all good fathers and good providers. I guess it was just in their nature. We were all pretty lucky.
 Some of those lucky guys besides myself and Rob that I know of were:  "69mets", his father was on the job in Brooklyn. He rode with him as a kid, and later "69mets" went on the job and is now retired. Another lucky guy was "Mack" who also had his father on the job in Brooklyn and now proudly has a son on the Boston Fire Dept in a busy company there. On the FDNYRANT site, "68jk09" (retired FDNY Chief) has a photo of his father when he graduated from the FDNY. Tommy Bendick, the site owner and FDNY member, had a father (retired FDNY Captain John Bendick) on the job too, besides his two brothers. And finally, "Smoke" had two sons on the job in Connecticut. My brother and myself, now retired and wishing that we could do it all over again.
  And I'm willing to bet there's more out there.    
 

nfd2004

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nfd2004 said:
  I was probadly about 9 or 10 years old and in those days firemen worked long hours for low pay. I think they worked Seven Days, with Two Off, then Seven Nights with Two Off.
  When "Smoke" was on the job in Bridgeport, each firefighter was required to live in the City (Bridgeport). In addition, if any of them left the city, they would have to call in and leave a phone number where they could be reached in case of a big job. If my father went to visit his mother just two towns away in Milford, he was required to call in. Then call back again when he got back home. The housewatch man was required to keep this info all in the company journal. Of course if he did get called in it was considered an Emergency and there was No Pay for that. No wonder in those days nobody wanted to be a Fireman. Maybe those Nuns that tried to discourage me about a job with the F.D. were actually smarter than I thought.
  But Smoke was a pretty smart guy when it came to electronics. He used to repair TV sets on his few days off. He was able to get hold of an old police radio from another city and hooked it up in his car to recieve the Bridgeport Fire Dept. Of course hearing those calls as a young kid, was music to my ears. But the real reason for it was that now "Smoke" was able to leave the city without calling in. We had a little more freedom as a family and could travel about 25 miles outside the city. Pretty soon, Smoke had a new part time job. Installing fire radios for the guys he worked with. But no money ever exchanged hands. It was paid back bartering. Painting, car repairs, carpentry, plumbing etc, etc. Those guys knew how to do everything and Everybody took care of each other.
 

nfd2004

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In the previous post, I told the story of my father who I called "Smoke". As stated, he was a Medic in WWII, and a firefighter in Bridgeport, Ct. He was a part of the Greatest Generation, who grew up in the Great Depression, fought in WWII and went on to become a firefighter.

  So many members on here have similiar stories. Their fathers also grew up in the Great Depression, and had nothing. Then they went on to fight for America in WWII and Korea. Many of those Greats have passed on. There are many members on this site whose fathers had similiar stories. Their fathers might have went on the FDNY, NYPD. Some also followed in their fathers foot steps going into the military, or becoming firefighters or police officers. They were great individuals.

  I think there's a need for Role Models today and you too may have a story to tell us. They did a lot for us and we can do this for them. 
 

nfd2004

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Ten Years have gone by since posting on this thread. But in reading a recent post in "MY Younger Buff Years" by Joe Materia, aka "mack", page 91 reply 1813, Joe posted a couple of pictures of my father, I used to call; "Smoke".

In one of those pictures he posted a book titled; "Warriors of the 106th", of which "Smoke" was a combat medic assigned to.

First of all, THANK YOU VERY MUCH JOE for doing that. I know that you too, like so many other guys here, are also very proud of your father too for their service to our country and for the careers they chose in risking their lives for others. They SURE DID Represent "THE GREATEST GENERATION".

I checked into buying that book, "Warriors of the 106th" and along with that there are other books written, related to that topic as well.

One book that caught my eye was titled: "St Vith - Lion in the Way". Why is that ?

What I never mentioned here was that my father suffered from what he referred to as; "The St Vith Dance". I never knew what that was. But it caused him to have a nervous, uncontrolled twitch, that would cause him to react by moving his right arm for no reason. He never really complained about it but now I realize that I guess the "St Vith Dance", was probably a nervous reaction from his days as a medic during combat. Apparently at the time there was no pills to control it.

I wanted to add that to his story. But this is just One Story of those WWII guys. There are so many others and sadly, there are NOT too many of those WWll members left.

THANK YOU to ALL the Members of The GREATEST GENERATION.
 
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