Those Crusty Old Jakes

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The lessons of the Crusty Old Jakes.

I would like to let you all know that if you haven’t sat down with one of those old crusty firefighters from yesteryear then you are missing out. You thought you knew something about firefighting, it’s traditions and the lifestyle as it was meant to be well guess again. I am not only writing this because of my last encounter, rather due to the magnitude of the conversations, history lessons, and memories that I have had the pleasure of listening to.

Warren Hawley became a firefighter in 1952 and retired in 1982. This 30 year career took him to station 8,10, and the old airport facilities, among others I am sure. He still makes time to stop by a couple of stations every once in a while to chat as well as make it to the monthly breakfast of the Retirees (I will refer to them as the Crusty old Jakes out of reverence). The stories that Warren shared with me over the hour and a half that he was at the station were priceless. I have several photos of the past that I keep with me at the station and at home, which I got out for him. It was neat to see his face light up when I showed him a picture of him and his old crew. Captain Robert Lee Mutter, Captain Daniel Ralph Sink, Lt. Blenkey W. Greer, Lt. Everett Ray Walters, FF William W. Kopcial, FF. Lawrence E. Hylton (Bones), “that is me right there” he stated , and last FF Donald Ray Barbour. He went right down the list not missing a beat. He spoke of the guys as though he was still working with them. I had to continually ask him the guys real names as he simply referred to guys as Bones, Foots, Jake, Ann, Lightning, Brigham. I will let it be known that Warrens nicknames were Calhoun (sp) and Floor Board.

Warren spoke of different experiences and then talked of his time in WWII though not in depth. He said he was in the Air Force and he was sure to have me search the internet for his listing on the WWII memorial website, There you will find Warren Hawley as well as his brother Albert L. Hawley both of Roanoke with their pictures. He was very proud of everything.

Warren didn’t mind me taking notes during the conversation. I could show him a picture that to me was a 50′s era engine. He would tell me the make, engine size, GPM capacity, where it was stationed and any interesting story he could think of about the engine or some of it’s drivers. I was able to add about 40 names to my list of the Roanoke City Fire Department Roster. I will continue to add until I am finished. I will post the roster on the site soon so you all can give input on who I am missing.

Speaking to Firefighter Warren Hawley was very interesting and I thought I would pass on to you the information you can find out. I have not put everything on here of course. There are things that you will just have to ask him yourself. What I am getting at is the next time you are in the station and a Crusty Old Jake shows up to say hey, why don’t you ask him about the good ole days. What are you so busy? Unlikely. You guys aren’t going to know what you have missed until it is gone. The links to the past, traditions, history.

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