Water polo

Local History by Ron Patch. Ron Patch is a Chester native, Chester Historical Society president, and a lifelong antiques dealer. He can be reached at 802-374-0119 or email knotz69@gmail.com.

Recently, Danny Clemons bought an interesting real photo postcard. It’s a view of a band and Yosemite firemen parading up Depot Hill. Danny and I collect Chester cards. Neither of us recalled seeing this card before. So much for that, we found one at the Chester Historical Society.

We have several other photos taken at this location in earlier and later years. I imagine several views were taken each year as the parade progressed. We have a few cards showing Steamer Aid Co. 1 with their steam pumper on Main Street.

Danny’s card has a postmark of October 1909. This was helpful. I opened the Yosemite ledger to 1909 to see if I could find mention of this parade. I found two relevant entries as below.

Yosemite firemen and band coming up Depot Hill in 1909. Photo provided by Danny Clemons

  “Chester Depot, Vt. August 27th, 1909

  “YoSemite Engine Co. met at Engine Hall at 7-45 PM. Invitation of Steamer Aid Co. No.1, to meet with them to see about Firemans Day. It was voted to hold a joint meeting with Steamer Aid Co. No.1 at same date and place to be fixed by said Steamer Aid Co. No.1

  “Attest F.A. Leland Clerk”

  “Chester Depot Vt. Sept 18th 1909

  “Union meeting of Steamer Aid Co. #1 and YoSemite Engine Co. at YoSemite E. Hall meeting called to order by C. Holt Foreman at 8-45. P.M. 22 members present minutes of last meeting read, Motion made and voted that we join with Steamer Aid Co. #1 in a field day and inspection, and share equally Steamer Aid Co. #1 to put in $25.00 allowed them by their Fire District in case of a shortage. Motion made and carried that the committee on music be instructed to hire the band that they think best.

  “Committee on Parade G.M. Harlow, L.R. Warren, C. Wilson.

  “…on sports Cliff Carlisle, A. Butterfield, E. Morris

  “…on printing W. Cilley, R. Bowker, F. Bingham

  “…on Supper Arthur Abbott, Allen Hazen, Chas Chase

  “…on Entertainment Bryant, Pierce, Parmenter

  “No further business adjourned Attest F.A. Leland”

Above you read that a band was to be chosen. Mary Harris recorded this day in her diary. Mary describes the day in detail. It was the Saxtons River Band.

I wandered down street one summer day in the late 1950s. I was 6 or 7 at the time. On the south end of the green in front of Southern Pie Company was some excitement. I stopped to watch.

There were two teams of firemen. One team was from the School Street Department, the other team from Yosemite. They were having a friendly game of water polo in the street.

The two fire companies faced off with firehoses connected to hydrants. There was a goalie and two or more firemen with hoses on each team. They used a soccer ball. The object was to play the stream of water on the ball and knock it in the opposing goal. Their goalie tried to block any goals.

What I remember most was when a fireman turned his hose directly on a fireman of the opposing team. How I did giggle when the fireman was knocked off his feet. This was done in fun. There was a crowd of spectators standing around. Everyone got soaked from the hoses. It was small town fun.

Harry Goodell participated in later games. These hoses have a lot of pressure. Harry told me the games ended when the high water pressure kicked up a stone that took out a window in the Yake place.

Chester Historical Society will publish a new book next spring, “History of Chester Fire Departments.” We will use artifacts from our collection.

We are heavy with Yosemite artifacts but light on the School Street Department. If you have any Chester fire history, give me a call. If you submit artifacts or photos for us to copy, you will be given credit in the book. This is your chance.

The above history will be included in this book. Mary Harris’s entire diary entry will be included along with newspaper clippings reporting the day’s events. Mary noted the day ended with a concert and dance at Town Hall.

Tom Hildreth volunteered – coerced might be more accurate – to photograph our collection of fire badges, helmets, Earl Horton’s uniform, hose nozzles, sirens, etc. Tom will scan documents and photos we have. Tom is a perfectionist and does beautiful work.

Currently, we are collecting artifacts we have. This winter we’ll put the book together.

  This week’s old saying: “Gray hair ain’t so bad. Ask any bald man.”

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