September 25, 1962 – 1987
This dark morning, as I looked out the window at the raindrops making puddles on the street, I recalled a similar morning, not so long ago, and remembered my first meeting with him. He was tall, lanky, wore glasses and had a head of fair hair that refused to stay combed, but what I remember most is his quiet smile and his sparkling eyes that had the gift of being able to see the humor in nearly everything. He was exceptional with tools and he loved trucks…especially fire trucks…particularly those called LaFrance.
More memories rushed back now…the first time he saw our old TFD High Pressure 2…”We GOTTA fix her up, Fred” he said and eventually we began to do just that. Hours stolen from family and friends we spent on the Old Girl…scraped knuckles, greasy hands, a little profanity on occasion, soon running so well you wouldn’t believe it was the same truck…and always that same smile.
I remember the pride in his eyes when he introduced me to his lady…”and this is Lena” he said. I found it difficult to understand how he could spend so much time with us as a “buff” until I realized that she shared in his hobby and love of old trucks.
Then came the day he called saying, “Dad and I are going to look at a LaFrance down Stratford way, want to come along?” She was a bit tired and faded but was willing and so as we know she came to Toronto to begin a new life. You can imagine the hours spent by father and son and if you phoned the message was “the boys are over working on the truck…be home late.”
He glowed the first time he and dad showed it off after all was complete and with good reason, it was beautiful. Then came the fame, if not fortune with movie production protection, as well as a brief appearance on the TV series “Night Hear” he loved the wet, the sweat, the grime…you see he really always wanted to be a fireman, but for reasons of health, could not. This was the next best thing.
He and Lena married on the last Saturday in May this year, and he arrived at the church with his best man in style as you may guess, on his bright red Custom 900 LaFrance…and NO rain showers would dampen that day!
We didn’t see much of him until July 1st at Port Hope for the parade and muster…polished…paraded…then time to pump water for anyone who needed it and taking home the trophy for “Best LaFrance” as well.
Then, suddenly, without warning, he was gone…
As originally published in the GTMAA Trumpet