Firefighter around to pull badge out of time capsule

October 28, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Frederick K. Newcomer put his firefighter's badge in the time capsule that was buried in the cornerstone during the dedication of the Mechanics Steam Fire Engine and Hose Co. No. 1 in 1954.

"I didn't think I'd still be around to pull it out," Newcomer, 82, said Monday.

He was around earlier this month when members of the department removed the cornerstone and time capsule during the building's 50th anniversary celebration.

The firehouse at 10 Virginia Ave. is named the Sadie Clayton Memorial Fire Hall after the local woman who donated the $25,000 it cost to build it.


Newcomer joined the department in 1947. He said he paid $1 for his badge at the time. He engraved it with his initials before he put it in the time capsule.

Newcomer also served as president and financial secretary.

He said he's going to put the badge in the new time capsule when the new cornerstone is laid.

Department members still buy their own badges, said Ron Flegel, 63, chief of the Waynesboro Fire Department, but they cost $30.

One thing that has not gone up over the decades is the annual dues paid by the department's 242 members. They have been $1.20 a year since 1955, Flegel said.

When Newcomer joined, the dues were 5 cents a month or 60 cents a year, he said.

The Waynesboro Fire Department runs with two firehouses - Mechanics and the Always There Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1 at 29 S. Potomac St.

In addition to Newcomer's badge, the time capsule contained the constitution and bylaws of the department's now defunct ladies auxiliary, a 2-cent postcard announcing its 12th annual memorial service for deceased members, a list of the department's life members at the time, beginning with W. Howard Cramer, who joined in 1901, and the Oct. 8 and Oct. 9 editions of The (Waynesboro) Record Herald.

A banner headline on the Oct. 9 edition reminded voters that President Dwight D. Eisenhower urged voters to keep Republicans in Congress during the 1954 midterm elections.

Newcomer remembered Monday that Sadie Clayton had been bedridden for about 10 years when the fire house was dedicated. She wanted to see the event so she was brought to the fire house by ambulance. "It was backed into the driveway and she watched it from the back door of the ambulance," he said.

Newcomer and Clarence O. Robinson, 95, are the only two of the four building committee members alive today. Robinson attended the 50th anniversary celebration.

The deceased members are R.C. Hartman and O.E. Helm Jr.

The Mechanics Steam Fire Engine and Hose Co. No. 1 is an offshoot of Waynesboro's first fire department - the Washington Engine Co. No. 1, which was chartered in 1843, Flegel said.

It existed until 1879 when the Mechanics Hose Co. was organized, he said. The charter was granted in 1880, Flegel said. Three years later it was changed to its current name.

The Always There Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1 was organized in 1899.

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