Sunday, December 21, 2008

Henry Pratt's Memories III

Life has both its joys and disappointmens and the greatest disappointment to a young country boy before 1912 was to never have seen the fire department make a run to a fire with the horses in harness going at a dead run.
"The invariable rule in driving horses in harness was never to let them go beyond a trot. Never let them gallop or run. But hauling apparatus to a fire they were driven at a dead run, with bells clanging. It was a blood-tingling sight and sound. What I most hoped for was to see them harnessed up and leave the station. It was a task of ten or fifteen minutes for a farmer to harness a team of horses and hitch them to a wagon. In a fire station it was done in a matter of seconds. The horse stalls were back of the apparatus, the front of the stalls were hinged. When a call came in, a pull on a lever swung open the stalls. the horses were never tied and were trained to come out at a run, and take their place on either side of the tounge. The harness was hung on a rope above them, already hitched to the hose wagan. A jerk on a rope dropped them on the horses' backs. At the bell the driver immediately leaped into the seat, took up the reigns, a man or two on each side would hook the two or three snaps necessary to complete the harnessing. They would have to do this quickly since the horses were always wildly eager to be away. When the last hookup was made the horses leaped forward and the men leaped on the rear platform as it went by. It is still claimed by old timers that after an alarm came in that horses could make the first block in less time than a modern fire truck."
He knew just how it was done but this, to a boy, is hardly the same as actually being there and tasting the excitement of it.
From Linda's 1965 history paper. (emailed July 5, 2008)

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