We Miss Their Words of Wisdom!

By Diane Feldman

Only in New York

From Tom Brennan (we miss you!), former editor and technical editor of Fire Engineering

We were relieved from heavy duty in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn–that happened every third night in those days in the 1960s and 1970s–and we were sent to the “lovely” strolling promenades of Ocean Parkway, with its beautiful art deco apartment buildings and quiet streets. The team hated it, but I guess we didn’t know what was good for us.

Around 3:00 a.m., we received a complaint from an apartment house on the “Parkway” from Fire Prevention (in those days you went out instantly!). On arrival at the sixth-floor apartment door, my crew and I, wearing bent helmets and filthy and “tenement smelling” turnouts and with arms full of tools, were met by the Widow Greenspan, wearing a nightgown and robe and wide awake.

“Come in, Firemen. It is an awful dilemma I have here,” she said as she ushered me further into the apartment between the smiling faces of my crew, the “Gang from Watkins Street.”

Into the bathroom we went, where we both stared into the open toilet bowl.

“What is the problem here, Mrs. Greenspan?” I said.
“There, in the bowl,” she said excitedly. “There –in there!”
“What?” I said, a little puzzled to say the least.
“The water. It is HOT!” she said.
“Ah, Mrs. Greenspan. You live here alone. We are on the sixth floor of a seven-story apartment building at 3:30 am. How do you know that the water in there is hot?”
My team of seven roughnecks had fallen through the door and were leaning against the walls, weak with laughter.
I could see she didn’t get my “point” was awaiting an answer that people like this need to get from people like me, so I said, “I am reporting this to the Water Department this morning; you should hear from them by noon.” I squeezed out with the last bit of professionalism I had.
“Hey, Lou,” shouted “Curbstone” from the side of the truck. “I miss working at ‘home’ all night more than ever.” 


Scott Millsap’s definition of “mud”: “‘Mud’ is ‘firehouse coffee.’ You can drink it, clean your paint brushes with it, or use it as a good 10W40 weight oil in your car in a pinch. Often the above can be accomplished with the same cup.” We miss you, Scott!


The Yenta
Diane Feldman, a 21-year veteran of PennWell Corp., is executive editor of Fire Engineering and conference director of FDIC. She has a B.A. in English communications. She has been a yenta (look it up) for most of her life. If you have a story for

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