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Jake Troupe honored for years as a Clear Spring firefighter

July 13, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Jake Troupe can't understand what all the fuss is about.

"They should honor all those young men who are out there doing a wonderful job fighting fires today," Troupe said, after receiving a plaque recently recognizing his 66 years as an active member of the Clear Spring Fire Department.

The plaque was presented at the annual Maryland State Firemen's Association convention in Ocean City, Md. Only one is given out each year, according to Troupe's daughter, Bev Altman.

"I joined the company in 1938 when I was just 18 years old," Troupe said. "I had always wanted to join and when I did, that's where I spent my time."

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After taking the basic firefighting class, Troupe immediately took on all the duties and responsibilities that went with the job - driving the truck as well as fighting fires.

"We were using a truck we borrowed from Hagerstown at first," Troupe said. "The first 'new' truck we bought was a 1932 GMC American LaFrance that we got in 1939 in Baltimore."

Long before the 911 emergency dispatch system was in place, each fire company scattered around Washington County had its own dispatching routine.

"In Clear Spring, we had five telephones in five homes and one was in mine," Troupe said. "I got used to getting up in the middle of the night and answering calls in all kinds of weather."

At the time of Troupe's first years with the company, there were 10 to 12 active members.

"H. Alvin Kelley was chief then. He was the backbone of the company," Troupe said. "We were friends. He was the one who got me into the company."

Kelley died in 1964 and Troupe became chief. Then Tom Altman took the job of chief in 1976.

In his later years, Troupe spent much of his time and energy contributing to the fire company's bingo and carnival efforts.

When he wasn't volunteering with the fire department, Troupe drove a bread truck from 1939 until he retired in 1987. That was his job, but firefighting was his passion.

"I've held every office over the years, including treasurer for 49 years," Troupe said. His daughter is the treasurer and takes care of the books for the company.

Now 84, Troupe is temporarily laid up at Reeders Memorial Home in Boonsboro. But he hopes to go home soon to Clear Spring, where he has lived with his daughter since 1992.

The family tradition of firefighting continues uninterrupted with Troupe's grandson, Bryan Altman, now serving as deputy fire chief. It was Bryan who accepted the plaque for Troupe at the convention.

"We also received a certificate for the three generations in firefighting," Bev Altman said.

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