Joe Dove: Fireman, Mailman


At the old Penn Daw station I was the first paid fireman, and one of the first paid firemen in the area. (Since July 1, 1949). I was a volunteer at the time, and they put up the job, and they called it caretaker. When they changed to county managers form of government in 1952, they made us regular paid firemen.

The fire department had horse shows up there where Beacon Mall shopping center is now. They had horse shows and carnivals and so forth to raise money. When I first went to work at the old Penn Daw fire station, the Beacon Hill airport was still going strong. So was the one at Hybla Valley.

As far as dairy farms are concerned, Hayfield Farm down at Telegraph Road was one. Popkins Farm at the end of Popkins lane where the Groveton High School started was originally a dairy farm. Mr. Earl Popkins, ran the dairy farm and later sold the ground off.

We used to have trucks on the Number 1 highway, cause 95 hadn't been completed yet. We had a lot of trucks on Snake Hill, and a lot of people were killed there, turning off the highway.

We had a homemade fire engine, and a homemade ambulance and we had an Old Civil Defense piece of equipment that the OCD gave us, a 1942 Chevrolet with a homemade body on it. Then we got two pieces of equipment from army surplus, a 1939 Chevrolet command car that we made an ambulance out of, and a 1936 Indiana.

Most of your wildlife was in Hybla Valley, where they built a big park. I know about 22-25 years ago, a pig truck turned over on the highway. For years they had wild pigs down there.

The young people had a dance at Groveton Elementary for 16 year olds and up. That was the only night life those young people had. The school dance was the only thing around. There was no place else to go. The area which was some 21 sq. miles, there were about 15,000 people in that area.

One of the worst fires I fought was in 1949, when I first went to work. At the corner of East Side Drive, there was two apartment houses that were made from barns, and we had a fire in there, where a lady and three children burnt up. That was probably one of the first fatal fires I ever fought as a paid fireman.

When I first started down here at the Post Office in 1942, I worked at the main office up at Washington and Prince Street. Then they opened up, I think it was 1947 or 1948 the Jefferson Manor Branch, and I was one of the first ones there. That's when we started walking from Jefferson Manor up to Groveton to the top of the big hill, then back down to Jefferson Manor.

Roughly in 21 sq. miles we covered with the Penn Daw fire department company, the population was something like 15,000. We ran fires the same way, no street numbers. "So and so's farm's on fire, second house past the oak tree." Something like that. Mostly using street names and landmarks is the way you ran your fire department.

We used to have all types of accidents on Route 1, cause motorcycles weren't too many back then. In motorcycle accidents generally people were killed. The helmet law wasn't in effect back then and they were nasty accidents, maybe 3 or 4 a year. We did have motorcycle policemen. As a matter of fact we had 2 motorcycle policemen. Groveton substation hadn't been built then.

We had people that rode horses up and down the highway. A man who lived down there, where they built the Ranch House and Lums; Mr. White, who had a jackass, he used to ride up and down the highway. We had the big riding stables down where Bucknell school is now.

We used to have what you called a Monday night clean-up, they'd blow the siren at 6:00 and we had about 45-60 volunteers then, cause there was nothing else to do. They'd all come down and clean up the firehouse and go over the equipment. The other day, I was telling some of the firemen down at the new Penn Daw that each individual crease had a crack and they used to keep the cracks in. The ambulance probably ran every day, fire trucks maybe would sit all week, and that's why we had the Monday night clean-up.

In 1942, I opened a gas station, garage at the old Groveton Texaco. I stayed there about a year, my brother-in-law bought me out and I went back to the post office, that was 1943. There was a Texaco gas station, and in the middle was a barbershop, on the end was what they called the Groveton Luncheonette, then the Groveton Market. It's vacant now but it was Chauncey's Market. Last time it was open it was a carpet shop. We weren't the original owners, it was remodeled in 1942. The trouble was, you couldn't get enough gas to sell to support two people, so we just split up. Not because we couldn't get along with it, but because we couldn't get enough gas to sell. We would have a line of people following the gas trucks. By the time he got his gas pumped, you could sell it within the next hour or so.

Volume Two, Table of Contents
Snake Hill to Spring Bank Homepage

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