She was parked on the west side of the hose tower. The rays of the sun were shining down through the open cab upon the black leather seats. The truck was stabilized by an arm on both sides with giant threads which appeared to be adjustable if you had a giant wrench.
The ladder was extended upwards almost to the edge of the sun. I was told the driver aimed for the sun when he extended her, but in her old age she had developed a slight arch when extended the full one hundred foot. So, the ladder tip ended up just to the left side of the sun.
Next to the base of the ladder on both sides were two red tubes that looked like grenade launchers. These were the hydraulic cylinders that raised and lowered the ladder.
If I wanted to be a firefighter, my task was simple. I needed to climb to the top, touch the tip, then climb down. All in less than ten minutes.
But, there’s something strange about climbing a gigantic ladder – especially a crooked one – that’s sticking straight up into the air. And stranger yet, it’s not leaning against a supportive structure – like a building.
All kinds of thoughts go through your brain. What if one of those tiny support arms fails? What if one of the hydraulic cylinders holding up the ladder sprouts a leak? Thoughts turn to fear.
The palms began to perspire. The heart beat increased – both in rate and intensity. And, I got a big lump in my throat. Did I really want to be a firefighter?
Yes, was the answer. But, it wasn’t a deep manly yes – it was more like a grade school girl yes.
So, I climbed up to the turntable. As I stood at the base the very top wasn’t quite visible. I was just about to change my mind when the time keeper asked, “Are you ready?” Right before I gave the “thumbs up”, I told myself the death would at least be instant.
The first fifty feet went fast. A hand rail on both sides gave me a sense of security. This wasn’t too bad after all. But the ladder started to narrow. And then the side rail was no longer.
The sun was getting closer as the ladder skinnied down to what seemed to be a size that fit my preboarding child like voice. I had reached the curve point. And it made me feel like there was a super magnet pulling me towards the left.
It was at that point the time keeper shouted, “Five minute mark!” I refused to look down. Up, up, up another sixteen feet. The red painted tip was now in reach. I stretched my arm until I feared it would disconnect from the socket. Slowly my fingers encircled the rung.
Looking down at the pea-sized time keeper he appeared to wave his hand. That was enough acknowledgement for me.
The speed of the trip up the ladder was liken a turtle stampeding through peanut butter. The one down the ladder was liken a rabbit being chased by a beagle. Within what seemed like seconds I was standing next to the time keeper.
All that remained was to ensure he saw me reach the top. And he did.
We all go through challenges in life. In many ways facing and overcoming those challenges is what molds us.
My career as a firefighter began with a “One Hundred Foot Challenge.”
by Fire Chief Steve Moody
Her long dark hair gently flowed in the warm summer Kansas breeze. First straight behind her, then straight ahead wrapping around her beautiful brown-skinned face. She was riding one of the playground swings.
This was my first encounter with a girl named Rosie Reyes.
We both lived within a block of Sunset Grade School. Rosie was in the sixth grade, I was in the eighth. The number eight turned out to be a special number for us.
Eight years later I walked the little girl down the long, long center aisle at Sacred Heart Cathedral after saying, “I do.”
Thirty-five years later the count continues.
So, what are the highlights of this voyage?
Fun. Boy have we had a lot. The great thing about fun is it doesn’t have to cost anything. If you are doing something as simple as going for a walk with the one you love – that’s fun. There’s been trips, events, celebrations, excursions, and walks – thousands and thousands of them.
Teamwork. It’s a small team of two, but it’s a team. Your success as a team means that sometimes one person has to give more than the other. My partner was the epitome of giving. Rosie was never called Fire Chief, but when called the Chief’s Wife those words carried more meaning than most knew.
Children. The team can grow. Children aren’t required, but they sure add a lot to life. Our two sons brought us a wealth of loving memories one could never aplace a price tag. Now there are two grandsons and a granddaughter that promise a limitless supply of future enjoyment.
Hardship. You have to work together with all your inner strength to overcome hardships. That digging deep within to overcome is what can build togetherness in every respect of the word. When two people with no money get married and afterwards take lifetime governmental jobs – that’s a recipe for togetherness.
Love. The word is abused, but in its truest sense it’s a great summation. It includes fun, it includes teamwork, it includes children, and it includes hardship. I believe it also means Best Friends.
Thirty-five years plus the count continues. And, it will until one of our hearts beats no longer.
My Best Friend – A Girl Named Rosie.
One of my fire captains came up to me after the ceremony. He said, “Chief, you were a wrestler. That explains a lot.”
The captain was correct. Each of our experiences in life has some effect on us, some more than others. One that ranks high is illness. Mine was polio.
Nobody wants to get infected with a disease like polio. But, if you are going to get it, there is a “best time” – and that is when you are the absolute youngest. That was when it came to me.
I was just beginning to walk when my mother noticed my face seemed swollen on the left side. Maybe there was a swollen tooth?
But, this was no tooth problem. And the problem wasn’t with the left side, it was with the right side – the whole right side of my body. Polio was the problem.
In its course the disease left me with a misshaped body, smaller in all regards on the right side. But, the effects weren’t just physical, they were also mental – good and bad.
Let us examine the good ones. We will call them lessons.
Empathy was one lesson. Polio left me with a strong sense of empathy for the less fortunate. My sense of empathy became so pronounced that it got me in trouble at times. Folks didn’t understand why I responded so vehemently to attacks on the less fortunate.
Polio also taught me the lesson of “triumph over adversity”. Who would’ve thought a young man with size 13 left shoe and a size 10 right shoe, along with an inch and a half shorter leg on the right could ever be a firefighter?
But, the most important polio lesson of all was “appreciation”. You really get a strong sense of appreciation when you have a disease that has a high likelihood of crippling you, but doesn’t.
There are so many things that factor into why a person is like they are. Bottom line?
Understanding people is complicated.
It was around three hours from the moment mom and you arrived at the hospital until your birth. Your expeditious delivery was mostly because of your mother. She is the strongest person – body, soul, and mind – that you or I will ever know.
Your father was right there beside your mother and he is a carbon copy of your mother, a stronger person you won’t find – body, soul, and mind.
Few people are born with such an advantage in life.
You were born with every physical part of you perfect. A more beautiful baby than you won’t be found. Many aren’t given your blessing. You are a lucky boy.
One of your grandmothers was at home with your sister while your other grandmother, grandfathers, uncle, and your aunt were driving from out of town to see you. And there are many more family members that will see you soon.
Today is the first day of your life – a life that will be one of greatness. You will accomplish great things.
“Welcome to the World” Grayson Paul Moody.
What is it? If the image doesn’t come charging out, give it just a moment or two. Everyone has that special one that stands out well above the rest. Your all time favorite gift.
Back in 1961 it was super technology. You pulled on a string and out came a message as the string retracted inwards.
Beanie was so mesmerizing that when my brother and I took our Beanies to the family dinner, all the other kids – and there were many – had to pull the string.
Unfortunately, my brother’s Beanie Boy string got pulled a bit too hard or too often. Beanie Boy’s string didn’t retract. Brother’s Beanie Boy became a mute.
I don’t know what became of little Beanie Boy. I also don’t know why this gift stands out in my mind.
Tomorrow is the day we have set aside to recognize those who have given us that gift. We owe our gratitude for this “Best Gift Ever” to every American soldier who has served in the Armed Services.
Men and Women of the Armed service – past and present – “I salute you and thank you for the gift.”
Your local Fire Department wishes you an enjoyable 2013 Winter Holiday Season, but every winter holiday season has added safety risks. Live Christmas trees, open candles, slick roads, and heating issues. They all bring risk.
“Dorothy’s Sad Letter” will help highlight the risks of heating your home.
Dear Citizens of America,
How could this have happened? Why didn’t I get my clogged flues cleaned? Why didn’t I call the furnace man to do his annual service check?
He would’ve found the cracked heat exchanger and fixed it. And a trip to the store with a ten spot would’ve gotten me the batteries for my smoke and CO detectors.
Straw for a brain – that’s the only explanation.
Home safety isn’t all that difficult to understand. The cost of these safety solutions are a fraction of a house fire.
Just then the firefighters showed up. First, they escorted me and my friends to the clean air outside. Then they put the fire out in my flue, shut down my bad furnace, and ran their own detectors until the air was clean.
So, what did I learn? Well, I…I think that…it isn’t being responsible to live in a home without practicing simple winter safety.
Please be Safe – Dorothy
“Dorothy’s Story” is a fun way to help remind you of winter safety, but safety is no joking matter. Your Fire Department wants you to remember its four word safety message and that is – “Safety Is Everyone’s Responsibility.”
A farmer raising fifteen children on land he didn’t own was a formula for poverty, but it was also a formula for lessons.
Let me start by describing the farm operation.
Wheat was his “cash crop” so to speak. But, he couldn’t get by on just raising wheat, especially a farmer with loads of children.
This was back in the good old days when you did it all.
The other parts of the farm operation were primarily focused on feeding all the mouths.
There was a small herd of Holstein cows for milk. Then there was a pig operation for ham and bacon. And a chicken operation that supplied the eggs to go with the bacon. The cows were fifty yards to the west of the home, the chickens twenty yards to the east, and the pigs a bit further away – two hundred yards north.
Equidistant between the house and the pigs was the outhouse.
The shared family car mirrored the compact farm operation – a Honda Rabbit hatchback. On the weekly trip to church, Grandpa would squeeze into the Rabbit with his six foot two inch frame, his knees sandwiched between two sun leathered arms. It was quite a sight.
The family home’s exterior was dull white stucco with bright red trim. Water was accessed by a hand pump out on the back porch. There was one bedroom downstairs for Grandpa and Grandma and two bedrooms upstairs – one for the boys and one for the girls.
Can you see the lessons?
Work ethic was a powerful one. Grandpa didn’t talk all that much. He didn’t have to. He would work sun up to sun down. And, I never once heard him complain about his plight – never.
Put others before yourself. You can’t raise fifteen children on microscopic funds without putting others ahead of yourself.
Frugality is another one. Grandpa and Grandma never had fancy possessions. I doubt there were ever any extra funds. Yet, frugality allowed Grandma to cover their household expenses and still have the dollars to buy a tiny Christmas gift for every single grandchild. And, there were a LOT of grandchildren.
Wealth isn’t required. Happiness doesn’t require running water, a flushing toilet, or a fancy car.
He was a special person who gave us a treasure of lessons. And he left us just short of his 102nd birthday.