Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Firehouse

Today was the firehouse hoagie sale. One Saturday every June our firemen drive up and down the streets of Stone Harbor in their engines shouting "Hoagies! Hoagies!" to the myriad vacationers running, walking, jogging, blading, or biking (like me) up Second Avenue.

By the time I got back from my ride, showered, and headed over to the firehouse, the hoagies were all gone. 2000 hoagies sold in two hours. Pretty good little fundraiser. Stone Harbor's firehouse is impressive for a town that's only 3 square miles. I remember when they built it; the year after the big fire at Hoy's 5 & 10.

It must have been the summer of 1968 or '69...and we were all fast asleep in my parents' yellow house on 100th Street. Because my aunt, uncle and cousins were visiting, along with the requisite babysitter, my cousin Laura and I were sleeping on cots in the upstairs living area, with a funny folding divider propped at the foot of the beds to give us "privacy". The windows were all open looking for relief from a heat wave, that had suddenly whipped itself into the wild wind that accompanies extreme weather changes.

The fire siren of our little one truck station began to wail. The only other time we ever heard the siren was when the daily noon "whistle" blew. The town is so small, the siren's sound can be heard from one end to the other. That night it was relentless. Can you picture five sleepy children rubbing their eyes and crying, a teenaged babysitter mortified to be seen in her pjs, three bewildered parents trying to wake the police cars with loudspeakers crawled down each of the three avenues alerting homeowners to hose down their roofs. It was quite a sight. Our beloved 5 & 10 was burning, along with several other shops on 96th Street, generally referred to just as "downtown". While Hoy's was only four blocks north and one block west of the house, the wind was carrying huge embers to our roof and beyond.

My dad, always a deep sleeper was the last one to rouse. He and Uncle Curt took turns trying to reach the roof with the spray of our garden hose. It was a long, loud, sleepless night.

The next day, I remember us walking into town to see the devastation. The paperback book rack stood inside the glassless front window of Hoys. It was hard to tell what had caused the most damage, the fire or the water. But, one thing was for sure, it was the worst thing that had ever happened in this family resort town.

When we arrived the following summer to find a 6-bay firehouse, it was the first of many times I've seen tragedy lead to overkill. Hoy's was rebuilt as well, along with a whole string of shops, some old, some new, and they all still stand today. I have to admit, I was glad. Knowing that this town still looks much the way it did when my mom was my age, and that it has a good chance of looking the same when my daughter is too, has a certain comfort. So maybe it's not the worst thing that the town has a bigger firehouse than most towns ten times it's size.

Last January the volunteer department fought a huge fire on 94th Street , and a few weeks later, after two vicious storms hit the East Coast back-to-back knocking out power for several days, the guys evacuated many of the seniors that live here year-round. They also showed up the summer we opened our front door to the smell of gas. Every Monday evening the town hosts Family Night at the firehouse, and for years they have shared their space with our local kids' theatre group, Seven Mile Island Stars.

It's hard to be anything but thankful for our men in uniform; I just wish I hadn't missed the hoagies...


  1. Ohhhh firemen!!! lol...sorry you missed those hoagies too!!

    Just wanted to say hi!

    Have a great rest of your weekend!!

  2. Hi and thanks for stopping by. I do love the firemen too. I am glad they are here. Sorry you missed the hoagies. They are so good.

  3. Family night at the firehouse is such a cool idea! You have a great little town there. Sorry you missed those hoagies, though.....but glad they sold out!

  4. Wow! That is some childhood memory.

  5. I feel I'm being many little eyes spying to see if I will make some spelling mistakes perhaps LOL.


    I really enjoyed your post. These types of events that happen in childhood mark us. I remember living in the country for a whole summer. I had this toy bunny that I slept with and sometimes shopped with. One day my mom took me to the general store and I forgot my bunny there. During the night the store burned down (bunny included). That was my first loss. I was devastated. Still remember like it was yesterday. Sorry for the hoagies. I hope the firemen were cute at least LOL

  6. You're so right...we do need to honor our men in uniform!!! Thanks for being my newest follower...and I'm yours!!!
    Love, love, love your little owlies!!!

  7. Hi Gretchen- thanks for stopping by my blog today. Are you from NJ or Colorado?

  8. Great tribute to our men in uniform!
    Thanks for stopping by my place and leaving some comment luv. I believe I'll hold off on joining the MidChix group. No reason other than I belong to too many groups already. But, thanks for asking.

    Have a Great week!!
    I'm your newest follower.

  9. I love reading childhood stories : ) I live in Dillon/Keystone and that restaurant was El Toredor (I think)-- anyway it is in Frisco. It was just okay. Not great. I am going to check out your website now. Oh, and I can't follow b/c the video is blocking. I think you can go into the code for that video and change the last two dimensions to smaller numbers to make it small-- at least that is what I do. Have a great day.

  10. I would love to see your little town one day. A slice of Americana for sure. Great writing on your posts. Consider me a new follower!

  11. Thanks for stopping by my blog today, and for the kind comments!

    I loved this post and now I'm off to read more!

  12. Olá boa tarde e prazer.

    Parabens, adorei seu blog - bem organizado

    Obrigado pela visita e volte sempre

    Boa semana a todos e mais sucesso.

    Fte abraço

  13. Thanks for stopping by!

    Love the memory... and dang, now you've got me hungry for a hoagie! :)

  14. That is fantastic....2000 gone in that short period of time....I love doing fun things like this to raise money;) enjoy the rest of your Sunday friend(:

  15. Thanks for stopping by The Pumpkin Patch! My hubby just finished his fire fighter training last week. Now he is official! We're proud of him and all men and women who work so hard to keep us safe. A hoagie fund raiser sounds like a GREAT idea. I'll have to pass it on. :)

  16. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I signed up for midchix, but I don't really know what to do... how do I enter a recipe? I would love to.

  17. Thanks for stopping by, I am now following you. I will be getting back into the blogging groove this week, so I hope you stop by again!

  18. i knew that was stone harbor as soon as i saw the 5 and 10, then to be sure i squinted at the fire co, and sure enough it was.

    thanks so much for stopping by the cape on the corner, and for becoming my newest follower. i truly truly appreciate it. i am so glad you liked my bird art redo. wait til you see the end result, i think you will like it!

    i'm off to poke around here some more!

  19. Thanks for stopping by my blog during the Friday 40 and Over blog hop. I'm following you and look forward to getting to know you better through your blog! :)

    P.S. I remember the first time I heard someone call a sandwich a "hoagie" ... we call them sub sandwiches here in Ontario, and I had NO idea what the person was talking about when they said they were craving a "hoagie"!!! :D

  20. I know! Hoagie is such a great word tho...better than sub or hero or sandwich :)