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Memories of a former fireman


“Cleo Kennedy died on the South Side. I was the oldest sleeper and I got his regular job.

“When Chief Gwinner died,” Farrell said, “Roy Hastings and I were standing right beside him.” The firemen had answered an alarm on Fulton Avenue. “Chief Gwinner said, ‘These night alarms are getting monotonous,’ and he fell over dead right in front of us.

“We didn’t have windshields (on the old trucks) and the wind would hit us right in the face,” Farrell said. “Cleo Kennedy was handy and he built windshields for all the old trucks.”

“The Country Club fire was in the middle of the night. Roy Hastings, Shad Mahoney and I were on the hose when something behind the bar exploded. It threw us off balance.”

“Sometimes I wonder why we didn’t get hurt. We didn’t have oxygen masks. When we got too much smoke, we had to come out.”

“Nobody got a key when they started work at the fire department, because nothing was locked up. When we’d leave, the door would be left wide open.”

“I was an old train buff. My dad was a conductor for the Burlington for years.”

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