A FIRE FAN’S IMPRESSIONS OF THE HAVANA TRIP
(With apologies to Odd McIntyre, and everyone else.)
Paxton Mendelssohn, the well-known Detroit fire fan, took the journey to the Havana convention of the International Association of Fire Chiefs with the Eastern party aboard the S. S. Scythia, and we simply had to give him this outlet for his pentup enthusiasm over the TRIP.-EDITOR.
THE New York Fire Department band bidding us a glorious farewell. Chief Ziegler being wheeled down the pier on a baggage truck. The general excitement of sailing —streamers, whistles, and hysterical goodbyes. Those girls from Boston, and the acquaintances made through mutual lonesomeness—Bethlehem and Easton. Case and Shepperd with their ever present cameras, and what pictures they took! Ever-smiling Frank Van Rensselaer and dignified Art Sullivan of the American-LaFrance. Chiefs McElligott and Tracy of New York always seen together. Joe Green, the big shot of the Eureka Fire Hose—the best story teller aboard the ship and the man who never drinks but likes to smell the corks. Chief Hedden of Buffalo having a wonderful time. Bessie Shepperd (Mrs. Fred Shepperd) a darn good scout; likewise Jean Stultz, the serious girl from Indianapolis, who somehow reminded me of me Cleo Mayfield, the actress. Tom Farrell, the after lounge steward. Who remembers how many bacardis he served us? Edith Batson, the little girl from Michigan who made good in the city, and her wonderful peach beach-pajamas. The flying fish doing their stuff—also the porpoises. Wonderful weather, but a bit choppy off Cape Hatteras—to be expected.
THEY got us up too early at Havana. Our first impressions upon landing—heat, humidity, linen suits—and within two hours we all went native. How many linen suits and straw hats did they sell during the Chiefs’ Convention? Those little boys who sell unmentionable toys. The glorified peace and splendor of the National Hotel and its gardens. Chief and Mrs. DeMay of Detroit having a wonderful time in a quiet way. Chiefs Scott and Evans, and Jay Stevens, very busy and seen everywhere. Wish I had space to mention all the chiefs. Seagrave Sales Manager Stevenson, better known as Stevey, a regular attendant at the conventions. The mob of would-be guides around the Plaza Hotel. Was there ever a more beautiful convention hall than the “Centrale Asturiano“? The business-like manner of Chief Sullivan’s conduct at the meetings and the sincere but not always harmonious attention of the delegates. Bill Brosnan and Dick Smith, the boys coming up the line for office, very busy but having a good time. Bob Browning of the Mack Company looking like a fashion plate. Father Coleman in his shirt sleeves enjoying himself, and with him our good friend Frank McAuliffe. The walks Ed Rumsey, Bert Case, and Mendelssohn took after midnight and the novel lines of approach by the natives. The Jai Alai games. How cordial the Cuban “Bomberos” (firemen) were to us. Did you ever see so many perfume stores, and try and get a line on the prices? Natives sleeping on the sidewalks at night. Those boys who dive for pennies in the harbor. The beautiful buildings and boulevards of Havana and the funny narrow streets in the old section. The Cuban “policios” sure were efficient. Did any one miss seeing a rhumba dance? There never will be another Chiefs’ Convention as interesting as this one was.
THE trip back just as delightful as the one going down— we knew each other better, and how! Case and Shepperd still taking pictures. Will you ever forget that dynamic little lady, Jerry Downs of the “Shoot the Works” company —a regular “it” girl. George Richardson as Ghandi at the masquerade ball. Who was the black face convict who wheeled him about—me. After all, wasn’t it a nice party all the way through? Fond au revoirs but not goodbyes. See you in San Diego next year.