While taking a little stroll one night I happened to take a look in the old fire hall on Cambridge St. N., and much to my delight I saw the old,( but beautifully refurbished) La France Fire Truck and the Ladder truck sitting side-by-side. Gee they look great and immediately my mind went back to the days when I used to visit the Fire Hall with my uncle, Ernie Riley, who was one of Lindsay's Volunteer Firemen.
Fire Chief Herb McCallum and his assistant "Tights" McArthur, who always drove the big truck, were the only two permanent firemen but they had a group of men such as Jack Graham (who drove the ladder truck if it was needed), "Nanny" Metherall, Cliff Campbell, who was later to succeed Herb as Fire Chief, Sam Howe, George Myers, Maurice Jones and a few others whose names have slipped my mind, were great volunteers.
Back in those days the town paid for the telephones for these men and when a call came in to the telephone central office summonsing the fire department the operator would notify the chief, and then proceed to call the volunteers on a list at the operator's hand advising them where the fire was. The fire bell in the fire bell tower would toll and away the truck would go. As for the volunteers, they would try to catch the truck if it was heading their way or hail anyone with a car to get them to the scene of the fire. By the way, the telephone number for the fire hall was easy to remember - 100!
Sometime after Cliff Campbell took over as Chief, there was a call informing the department that a house on Lindsay St. N. was burning. It so happened that the house had been condemned by the town. Following the fire the Chief told the owner that it was difficult to extinguish the fire because the place was just like a match box and there was just no stopping it. "That's okay, Campbell", the owner said, "You and your men did the only thing they were capable of doing, you saved the lot".
Many were the nights when the volunteers would report to the chief for the purpose of hanging the hose from the bell tower or roll hose in preparation for future calls. Afterwards many a wild game of euchre was held in the basement of the fire hall. One could also have a great game of pool as well. I remember the big "Skunk Board" hanging on the wall downstairs. If you were "skunked" playing euchre, your name went on the board and your wallet was opened up and a $1 bill was extracted and placed in a fund for a year-end party. Sometimes one could be darned sure that signals were being used in the game but never did you dare complain.
Thanks Lindsay for retrieving the old truck. It looks fantastic.