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March 26th, 2014

My tweets


Bobbing For Fire


            After three decades as a volunteer firefighter, I … hurt. A lot, especially when it’s cold. Recently I’ve been seen wearing a sling, to let my arm heal after I bent an elbow the wrong way. (I don’t really need the sling—it’s to keep me from reaching for stuff with my bad arm.)

            Bob Beckley was already an old timer (or so my 18-year-old self thought) when I joined. He just hit his 40th year.

            Bob Brownell was just given his fifty year pin.

            Fifty years.

            And that was because they missed the actual anniversary: He’s been a firefighter for 53 years. He was already doing the job for two decades before I walked into the firehouse for the first time, sucking on a bottle and wetting my pants. (Just kidding … I wasn’t sucking on a bottle. I left it in the car.)

            Now, what else happened around 53 years ago? Hm. Well, 52 years ago, although I don’t actually remember it …

            Holy cow. Bob Brownell has been fighting fires since before I was born.

            And the rest of us still have to fight him for the friggin’ fire nozzle.

            Maybe it’s a Bob thing. Maybe being a Bob gives you more energy somehow; maybe it’s one of those mystical names that keeps you young even longer than sleeping under a pyramid, or marrying Playboy bunnies.

            Brownell would have started around 1961 or so. Kennedy was President. In Albion, our newest truck was a 1952 fire engine, the first engine I rode to a fire almost two decades later. It had a manual transmission with about 42 speeds on it.

            And I’m tired?
          Now, Brownell is a transfer, which means he didn’t start with our department. What happened was, he started on a different fire department, wore all of them out, then moved to another one. Then all the young guys on that department got tired of him making them look bad, so he left there and came to us. You know those stories about immortal people who moved every few decades so people wouldn’t notice they aren’t aging? That’s Brownell.Collapse )

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