Very Busy Day
I had to change my plans for today once I heard of the Catfish Friday event and found myself unable to get up unusually early to attend all three events today, because I didn't get to sleep until quite late (as usual). So I didn't get to the Maplewood/South Orange Artists Studio Tour this year. I did, however, get to the Fire Muster and Parade and to the Catfish Friday reception. Then on the way home, I took updated progress pix of the construction of a new school in Vailsburg, and some fotos of other things in that area. I then walked back toward my car thru the Park, spotted someone I had spoken to months before in the same park, and chatted with him awhile before heading home. He gave me some info about the new school and the private school on Lincoln Park that I saw while visiting Brick City Urban Farms.
I didn't know about the 42nd Annual Fire Muster and Parade until I chanced across it in doing a Google search on something else, in mid- or late May. When I ran across a webpage about it on the Newark Museum site, I wrote to the webmaster to ask if that page related to an event this year, in that many webpages stay up long after an event has passed and I couldn't be sure of the year because that bit of information was not on the webpage.
This foto shows the glass-walled, ground-floor addition to 1 Washington Park for the Rutgers Business School, still under construction.
The excuse that the Newark Museum updates its website regularly and is not responsible for other websites' failure to do that, is no excuse at all for not supplying the year in dates. The Newark Museum's website is not the only one on the 'net, and people are accustomed to the practices of websites all OVER the Internet. Why the militant insistence in NOT putting the year in dates? Why would anyone FITE for the RIGHT not to put the year in dates? There's a rude word I'm trying not to say about that attitude. I'll let you supply your own. To strengthen my point, I went to the NuMu page about this fire muster, on Tuesday, June 9th, and it was still online — AFTER the event was over. According to the webmaster's logic, the June 7th date shown there should apply to next June 7th, which would be 2010! The June 7th shown on the website is a Sunday, but you'd have to check a 2010 calendar to see if June 7th, 2010 will fall on a Sunday. Memo to NuMu webmaster: Just show the friggin' year for all events!
In any case, the Fire Muster is a wonderful event I did not know about before, despite having lived in Newark for almost nine years and belonging to the Newark Museum for a significant portion of that time. I know that the Newark Museum has a Fire Museum in the former Ward carriage house on the Museum's premises, adjoining the sculpture garden. I have, indeed, showed pix of it, outside on various occasions and inside on April 2nd, 2008.
I fotograffed this next engine mainly to show the "Loving Memory" dedication. Firefiters are strong men but not tufguys afraid to show affection.
"Where is Murrayville?" We responded that it was near the Bahamas, or next to Margaritaville, but our favorite answer was "it is anywhere you want it to be."I would add that it's in New Jersey, which is where I want it to be.
The Fire Muster is a street fair of sorts, with food, on Washington Street and Washington Place, and in Washington Park.
Here's a wide view of the southwest corner of the Park.
I got there very late, shortly before the official closing time of 3pm. Some equipment may already have left, since there was this big gap between the bulk of rigs and the last few.
Equipment and some personnel from a number of places other than Newark were on display, some quite old. (Equipment more than personnel, but yes, some older personnel as well.) I asked some guys from Wayne about one of their rigs, and they said it dated to 1944. I remarked, "That's the year I was born. It looks even more antique than I do."
I looked at all the "apparatus" on display, but took closeup fotos mainly of trucks from localities with some connection to me or my family. For instance, I was delited to see these two rigs right next to each other, from Leonia and Leonardo.
Had my family stayed in Palisades Park, I would have gone to Leonia High, because Palisades Park was then a sending district for Leonia. As kids, we used to rollerskate (with clip-on metal skates) up the sidewalks all the way into Leonia. And one brother, both sisters, and I walked thru Leonia and Fort Lee to the middle of the George Washington Bridge once.
But we moved to Leonardo while I was still in elementary school. I wasn't familiar with Brevent Park, but I spoke with the two guys from that truck, and they told me it is down Center Avenue (our house was at Center and Appleton) toward Atlantic Highlands. (Leonardo, by the way, is not named for Da Vinci but, according to the WPA Federal Writers Program placename project in May 1945, for "Henry and James Leonard, first ironmasters in N. J.") Leonia was "Coined from Fort Lee". (New readers of this blog should note that there are links throughout this post where you can find more information about some of the organizations represented at the Fire Muster.)
Then I saw a couple of trucks from Little Falls ("Lesser falls of Passaic River"). I wonder if there is still a waterfall there. International Falls, Minnesota (the place with frigid temperatures often reported in weather reports) has no falls anymore. A dam raised the water level and obliterated the falls. Nice little town tho, with a giant Smoky the Bear statue. I have shown many pix of the Great Falls at Paterson, and have to check for the Little Falls. I wasn't sure if Little Falls was the town my older sister and I went to, to sing in a choir. I took this picture to play safe.
This little kid sat behind the wheel of one of Little Falls's participating trucks. I'm puzzled about "Enterprise" on the truck. I see no reference to, for instance, an Enterprise section of Little Falls Township on Wikipedia.
Then I saw "Little Ferry" ("Colonial ferry"), and thought THAT might be the town where the (then) Bergen County Junior Choir met. There was a guy sitting on the steps of the truck and I asked him if Little Ferry is in Bergen County. It is. How about Little Falls? Passaic County. So it was Ferry, not Falls. Now I know.
It may not be relevant here, but when I was in the L's of the placenames website, I saw "Little Silver" (Monmouth County), where we lived for the year I was in eighth grade: "Payment to Indians, or appearance of quiet water". (Little Silver is largely a peninsula surrounded by the Shrewsbury River.)
This floodlite truck, intended to assist at nite fires, was in the Fire Museum when I fotograffed it for my post of April 2nd, 2008.
I now live near Silver Street in Vailsburg. I wonder if that has anything to do with a payment to Indians. There is, as far as I know, no publication that tells the origin of Newark street names. I have a book about Manhattan street names, and many of ours are the same as theirs (even if occasionally spelled differently, e.g., Blee(c)ker Street), but certainly not all. Is there a book about the origin of Newark street names? Anyone? There should be — book or website. Hey, history instructors in Newark colleges: how about suggesting such an explanatory list or website as a term-paper or class project for your students?
This firetruck is armored against fallen trees far from city streets. It is (or was) part of the New Jersey Forest Fire Service.
I arrived toward the very end of a bagpipe number by the Newark Firefighters Pipe Band, a group I mentioned here November 9th, 2007. For some reason, their website, which includes sample music, wasn't working for me today, even after I rebooted because another website was also not working. No music plays. They should fix that.
I approached the kilted guy in the foto above to ask if they would be performing another number. He wasn't sure, but thought that maybe they would just before or after the award ceremony for trophies (note the group of trophies on the wooden platform to the left). I stayed around. Besides, I wanted to take a group foto of the trophy winners.
Some of the equipment is now privately owned. You can't read it at this size, but the sign in the window of the vehicle above reads "MOTOR ANTQ. PRIVATE". Other equipment may retain a tie to the institution noted on it. I don't know to which category this truck affiliated with "The Burn Center at Saint Barnabas serving New Jersey since 1977") belongs.
Bogota (below) is the town in Bergen County where my parents met. They lived one house apart. So my mother married the boy next door but one. "Bogota", by the way, is not named for the capital city of Colombia, but for "Bogart family, early settlers". That seems a tad odd, but explains why it is pronounced ba.góe.ta, not boe.ga.tóq (where Q is silent, the only silent letter in my phonetic spelling system, here "cuing" that a vowel in final position is short, which is unusual in English).
I found striking the number of gauges on this control panel. Firemen have to have something on the ball mentally. They aren't just dalmatians jumping and yipping at a firebell. (I know that the politically correct term nowadays is "firefiters" (however spelled), but the great preponderance of fire"fiters" are men, so to hell with political correctness. If a firewoman distinguishes (extinguishes?) herself, I'll give credit where credit is due.)
On this next truck, the gauges are on the front of the rig. I don't know if it's a tanker truck or a pumper that boosts the water pressure available from the hydrant.
Here's a view up the extended ladder shown in other pix. I hope never to see it from the top.
Ladders and I are not the best of friends (I'm partly crippled for having fallen off a ladder / jumped off a falling ladder at a time I did not have health insurance, so could not get corrective surgery for over a year. Let's hope the Obama Administration heads off Teddy Kennedy's half-assed public-private universal healthcare boondoggle and demands the single-payer system we desperately need.
Ever notice how glad the Republicans are to brag about how the United States is the richest country in the history of the world? — until it comes time to pay for things that benefit people other than the rich, such as universal healthcare, whereupon they jump to say we can't afford that! Make up your mind. Are we rich, or are we poor? Republicans can't have it both ways.
One of the booths / tables at the street-fair portion of the Muster was for a proposed memorial to honor firemen who died in the service of their fellow citizens. I pass over the grammatical / punctuation mistake on the banner on the pavilion.
That memorial is planned for a fire museum at Allaire State Park. Why? I have been to Allaire, and it is out in the middle of nowhere. Who's going to go to a fire museum there? The Allaire Fire Museum does not yet exist, and should not be built. New Jersey already has a Fire Museum, in Newark.
Perhaps it should have larger quarters. Fine, agreed. And more attention. But those quarters should be in the state's largest and most important city: Newark. If the Newark Museum would do as it should do, and move to a great new building between Newark Penn Station and the Prudential Center, the Fire Museum and Memorial can take over a larger part of the present Museum complex. In any case, a memorial to fallen firefiters should be here, where more people will attend and pay their respects.
New Jersey is a geographically small state, and Newark is the nexus of an intense network of transportation, public and private, that makes a Newark location ideal for any memorial to fallen New Jerseyans. I mean no disrespect to Allaire, but a Memorial to New Jersey's Fallen Firefiters belongs in Newark. We do minimal honor to the fallen in hiding a memorial in a semi-wilderness where no one will see it. I've been to Allaire, and as Gertrude Stein once famously said (tho of Oakland, CA, not Allaire State Park, NJ), "there is no there there." Let Allaire have its 19th Century ironworks. A memorial to fallen New Jersey firefiters belongs where many can pay them honor: Newark.
I gave my card to this next guy, Mark Mecca, of the Metropolitan Miniature Fire Apparatus Association, when he told me the Association used to have a website but no longer does. He thought it was due to lack of funds, but I find that it was on AOL Hometown, and AOL closed out all subscriber webpages and online file storage (which is why well over a thousand fotos in earlier posts in this blog have disappeared).
So what may really be at issue is that the webmaster of the AOL site did not find another free webhost to move the AOL Hometown webpage to. There are still some good free webhosts out there (tho Yahoo is closing GeoCities this summer), so small groups without a lot of cash can have a web presence. In any case, Mecca said he could send me some info, but none has, as yet, arrived.
Tables and chairs were set up in Washington Place, as above. There was a food competition of the various cooks at Newark firehouses. Firehouse chefs have a good reputation for hearty food, and the Fire Muster honored them with a number of awards. I didn't get to taste any, for having arrived late, but some of the food on offer was pretty fancy-sounding (salmon with champagne sauce!), not just firehouse chili, tho one cook's chili did win an award.
Probably my favorite piece of "apparatus" on display was the odd old truck above from Wayne (where my younger / less old sister lived for a few years). I don't know what the shiny metal globe served as, but it is striking.
I think it won a trophy, but am not sure. One intended category, People's Choice, didn't come off, because the organizers forgot to put out a ballot box! Next year. Instead, they awarded a "Judges' Choice" trophy. Maybe it won that. Or not. Even the emcee had trouble figuring out the list of awards, and skipped one or more until asked about them. This Wayne rig had a dazzling array of britely polished hose connections and gauges. Gorgeous.
There was one important piece of Newark fire apparatus that did not participate, emblazoned here on a sweatshirt from ClemcoGTI of Kearny.
I didn't know that Newark had a fireboat, but the sweatshirt salesman assured me there is indeed an active-duty fireboat in the NFD, and I found a video on YouTube that shows it in action. "Homeland Security" is on its side, which makes sense if you consider that Port Newark is a major East Coast facility right near NYC. So perhaps we have that fireboat due to a grant from the Feds. Nice to get something back from the Federal Government, isn't it? NJ is one of those rich states that sends far more to Washington than comes back. Much of our Blue money goes to Red States. And they appreciate it so much, don't they? They just love their Blue State benefactors.
The master of ceremonies was a hefty guy named John Sicignano. I really appreciated his making specific mention of the fact that this was a great day, 'nobody got mugged, everybody was safe'. He went on to urge people who attended and had a great time, to tell their friends that the 'horror stories' they have heard about Newark are just plain wrong. Sometimes people have to be reminded of the obvious, and nudged to mention not just this great event but also its location: beautiful Downtown Newark. When Gary Owens on Laugh-In in 1968 intoned "Beautiful Downtown Burbank", he was being ironic. "Beautiful Downtown Newark" is not the slitest ironic. Not everything in Newark is stunning, nor even lovely, but there is so much that is so good that it's amazing we aren't tripping over tourists everywhere we step Downtown.
In the foto above, a Bell and Siren Club truck stands before Ballantine House, the mansion of the alemaking family that is now part of the Newark Museum. In this next foto, a firetruck stands in front of a historic former church and a refined former insurance-company HQ building.
And here, the extended ladder rises visually above the actually much taller spire of Saint Patrick's Pro Cathedral, Newark's Roman Catholic cathedral before the magnificent Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart was completed. Also in that foto is a fireman's nitemare, a hugely fat person. Sorry, but as far as I'm concerned, if someone weighs more than 300 pounds and is overcome by smoke inhalation, no single firefiter should even try to rescue them. They're going to die relatively young anyway.
Further, consider the shaded, leafy pathway in the park (below) as against the sun-beaten glare of the typical street fair. Could a vendor ask for more? Larger crowds, yes, but they should come as word gets out how wonderful the Newark Fire Muster is.
Among the items on offer was a series of paperback books that set out an oral history of Newark firefiters.
Other books about firefiters were also available.
Here, the awardwinners pose for pictures. Unfortunately, the field was a bit wider than my camera accommodates, so a couple of people on the left were partly cut out.
At the end of the awards ceremony, the emcee turned the microfone over to a woman representative of the Newark Bears organization, who mentioned that there would be a baseball game a few blocks away starting around 4pm (that is, very shortly thereafter) and that on Tuesday, June 23rd, the Bears will host the Atlantic League All Star Game — and that before that game, Newark's own Queen Latifah will lead off a "celebrity softball showdown". I don't know what celebrities will be participating, but lots of celebrities have a Newark connection. Wouldn't it be great it Whitney Houston, who is set to release a new album in September, were among them? Shaq. Jason Alexander (and bring Jerry Seinfeld). Comedy legend Jerry Lewis.
Queen Latifah might someday be able to get most Newark-linked celebrities to an annual "Newark Reunion" (and perhaps art show and/or music festival) to benefit a scholarship fund for Newark kids, or other worthy cause, a different one each year. An invite from Queen Latifah and Shaq would mean more even than an invitation from Mayor Booker. Or even, believe it or not, from me.
The annual Fire Muster and Parade is now officially one of my very most favorite Newark events. Next year I intend to get up early enuf to see the parade part of the proceedings, when the "apparatus" rolls down the street and the Pipe Band plays its bagpipes and drums. Newark musicians of wide appeal should be invited to entertain the throng when the stage and sound system are not otherwise in use.
The Newark Museum deserves great credit for hosting the Fire Museum and sponsoring this great annual event. I wonder if we have trackage enuf left, perhaps in the industrial area east of the residential Ironbound, for an annual antique railroad event. Indeed, what better place on Earth for a railroad museum than the Ironbound, whose name refers to its being surrounded by railroad tracks?
Fire engines one month, old trains the next. Wouldn't that be great? Of course, some grown men would have to take their kids, nephews and nieces, or a Boy Scouts or Boys & Girls Club group to have an excuse to attend, themselves. That would be all to the good, for bringing more people to the Muster and Parade. The more, indeed the merrier.