To My Friends, My Elementary School Buddies
My favorite assignment is visiting with local school children and inviting them to lunch. I’d like to now address my young friends of Syracuse, Cook, Bluff Ridge, Buffalo Point, the Arts Academy elementary schools and you who enjoy home school.
In an earlier piece, I introduced City residents to my grandfather, Marlin. He was the custodian of Syracuse Elementary School in the 50’s and early 60’s. Because he farmed and owned ditch stock with the local ditch company supplying water to his farm, each year he was assessed a portion of the supply ditches to clean before they filled. As an elementary school child, I loved to be with Grandpa, anytime, but to help him clean ditches was a riot. There was a secondary benefit, too. This “chore” occurred in the spring as asparagus spouted. I love asparagus!
The actual work meant removing debris and burning the ditch banks to clear vegetation. To a boy, the burning part was exciting! During that time of year, one witnessed smoke trails as farmers readied for the irrigation season.
Another perk was marshmallow roasting! After finishing, Grandpa would kindle a fire in one of his ditches and we’d roast marshmallows. Today, marshmallows come in plastic bags, but in my day, Stay Puft® marshmallows came in personal-size boxes of 6-8 marshmallows wrapped in wax paper, just for kids!
Once I made a horrible mistake. I found a box of Strike Anywhere® matches and began playing. Before long I had started a fire that would eventually consume a half-acre of scrub oak. I was fortunate the fire department was at hand. They extinguished that fire before anyone was hurt or structures damaged. Lesson learned!
Nearly 25 years ago, while sitting in Sunday School class, I heard the siren sound, calling the Syracuse Fire Department to action. Word spread through the congregation that Willard and Princess Bambrough’s home was on fire. Princess was the kind soul who came to my rescue when thrown from the horse en route to Scouts. [I shared that story in March.] I excused myself from church, still a boy at heart, and rushed to the scene.
The home was old, a very simple, small frame house that had seen decades of use. It was totally lost in a matter of minutes. Our fire department was volunteer then. My friend, Gary Hamblin, our local butcher at Hamblin’s grocery store, was a member of the team. It was his charge to examine the house once safe. He disappeared into the chaos and reappeared moments later carrying the body of an infant child; a little boy. I will never forget that scene. I will never forget the anguish in Gary’s countenance.
I listened to a news anchor this past week, who was asked what kind of new television network he would propose, given our saturation with information and unlimited choice. His response was telling. He said, “A station that broadcasts warm glowing fires in fireplaces, 24/7, and nothing else!”
That’s the feeling I get when I’m with members of our fire department. To the three fire crews that keep us safe, and those that support them: Thanks for staying awake, that we may sleep tight!
Join the Fire Department at the Open House: October 11th from 6:00 – 8:00 PM. BRING YOUR PARENTS!
AND DON’T PLAY WITH MATCHES.
Mayor of Syracuse City