Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company Engine 1 Returns Home
In January 2016, Kevin Consalo assumed the Presidency of the Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company. In mid-January President Consalo met with Jim Quillen, the newly appointed Chairman of the Company’s History Committee. Jim wanted to discuss preparations for the Company’s 100th Anniversary in 2027, primarily the writing of a 100th Year Anniversary Book. The book would cover the history of the Company from when it was founded on December 9, 1927 to 2027.
As a part of the Anniversary Book there would be appendixes that listed various offices and the names of the members who held those positions over the years since 1927; examples being the Fire Chief, President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Ambulance Captain and the Fire Recorder. There would also be other appendixes and one in particular for Fire Apparatus; this appendix would list every piece of Fire Apparatus the company had purchased and owned.
Most members of the Fire Company knew that the very first piece of Fire Apparatus purchased by the Company was a 1929 Ford Model AA Fire Engine (Pumper) in 1930. The Engine remained in service into May 1961. After its service with the company it was sold to Al. Johnson, a member of the fire company and sat behind an airplane hangar at his business west of town for many years. In 1974, Engine 1 was sold to James (Jimmy) Mood of Smyrna, Delaware. Mr. Mood removed most of the items (parts) from the truck and placed them inside his garage in the attic in preparation for his restoration of Fire Truck. As with anything, things evolve and he became involved with other pursuits and did not proceed with the restoration.
There were several “urban legends” around the Fire House about Engine 1. It was used for target practice by a bunch of kids when it was sitting west of town. That it had been stripped of everything during its time west of town. That Mr. Mood had sold it to someone in Maryland after the Magnolia Fire Company’s membership voted against purchasing it back in the early 2000s. While researching and preparing the Apparatus Appendix for the 100th Year Anniversary Book, on March 3, 2016 Jim Quillen decided to call Mr. Mood to see who he sold Engine 1 to in Maryland in an attempt to contact that person to see if they had restored the truck. The only known photograph of Engine 1 was taken in the mid-1930s with the truck and company members standing in front of or sitting in it and you can barely see any of Engine 1. If restored maybe he could get a few photographs from the person to include in the 100th Anniversary Book. To his surprise, Mr. Mood said, he still had the truck in his backyard and hadn’t sold Engine 1 to the guy in Maryland because he wanted to make a hot rod or rat rod out of it and he hoped the truck would someday return to Magnolia. Jim contacted President Consalo to advise him that Mr. Mood still had Engine 1. The President’s first words were “How much does he want for it?” At that point, Jim’s only answer was, “I haven’t gotten that far yet.” After a few back and forth missed phone calls between Mr. Mood and Jim they agreed to meet on March 12, 2016 so they could talk about the truck. Jim decided it would be a good idea to ask his uncle, Charlie Carrow to go along, as he had known Mr. Mood for many years and he was a Life Member of the Little Creek Volunteer Fire Company. When they met with Mr. Mood, Engine 1 was sitting under the trees to the side of the backyard, it had vines growing on it., the truck had settled into the ground, it had remnants of a vinyl tarp on it and a lot of parts were just stacked in the spot where the driver’s seat use to sit, there were additional pieces to the truck sitting on the ground around it. Pictures were taken of Engine 1, it was discussed what additional items/parts were there. As previously stated Mr. Mood removed almost everything in preparation for his restoration of Engine 1 and placed those items in the attic of his garage and a selling price was discussed and finalized. It was a very good idea on Jim’s part to ask his uncle to go along as his help during the two hour meeting was very beneficial to the fire company. Mr. Mood said the guy over in Maryland still called him about buying the truck every three or four months and wanted to purchase it for the price he had originally offered it to the fire company for back in the early 2000s. Also during the discussions Mr. Mood said his wife wanted him to clean up that part of the yard and get rid of Engine 1. Jim was trying to get a price and Mr. Mood sat there thinking about it after about five minutes Charlie said, “Jimmy, you said you want it to go back to the fire company, that Carolyn wants you to clean up the yard and get rid of it! Why don’t you sell it for what you have in it; it’ll go where you want it to go and you’ll get out of the backyard.” Mr. Mood looked at Jim and said, I’ve got $3,000.00 in it and that’s what I’ll sell it to Magnolia for.” Jim then explained the process that the Fire Company would have to go through and told Mr. Mood he would get back with him.
On Sunday, March 13, 2016, the History Committee met and the Chairman decided not to bring Engine 1 up as there were still too many unknowns. He had not discussed any of the new information with President Consalo. He was thinking of the most effective way to approach the purchase, restoration and most importantly gain the support of the membership to bring Engine 1 home to the Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company. As discussed before it had been tried in the early 2000s and by vote a majority the membership rejected the motion to purchase the truck and it remained in Smyrna in Mr. Mood’s backyard.
Jim came up with the idea to write a proposal. It would provide background on the truck and take the approach of restoring Engine 1 over a 10 year period which would spread out the financial expenses with the goal of the restoration being completed by the 100th Anniversary in 2027. He wanted to see if he could gain the support of some local business to help by providing some of the needed supplies and/or services. He called a local business owner to see if he would donate his services to do the sand blasting of the truck if the fire company provided the sand, he was on board with us. He then made a call to his Uncle Charlie (Carrow) to see if he would contact a local automotive supply store to see if they would donate the automotive paint and supplies to do the restoration, they were on board. Jim then thought there needs to be sales pitch to the fire company’s membership, there needed to be a slogan, so he came up with “It was the first truck we ever bought and there will never be another first truck we ever bought to serve the citizens of our community!”
It was now time to call President Consalo. On the evening of March 14, 2016 Jim called the President and laid out the plan as stated in the above paragraph. We buy it, restore it over a 10 year period to spread the expense out, we already have a business who will do the sandblasting and we already have a business who will donate the paint and painting supplies. I’ll write up a booklet that gives the background on the truck, how we plan to approach the restoration and the help we have already received from the community. It will include color pictures, and the one thing that every member of this fire company needs to understand . . . “It was the first truck we ever bought and there will never be another first truck we ever bought to serve the citizens of our community!”. President Consalo said make-up the booklets and let me have them and I’ll present it to the Board of Directors at the next meeting.
The Board of Directors met on April 3, 2016. President Consalo distributed the booklets and discussed the proposal with Directors Harry Consalo Jr., Tammy Ketterman, J. Ronald Reed, Robert Roe and Director/Fire Chief Ronald W. Rhodes Jr. All were in favor of purchasing Engine 1 and restoring it. They also want to go up to Smyrna before the fire company’s next monthly meeting and look at Engine 1. The Chairman of the History Committee called Mr. Mood and made arrangements for the group to look at the truck. On April 10, 2016 at 10:00 am, President Consalo, Directors Robert Roe and Harry Consalo Jr, Chief Engineer Robert Helton, History Committee Chairman Jim Quillen, committee members Richard Johnston, Paul Schreppler and Ralph Satterfield met at Station 55 and went to Smyrna to look at Engine 1. By the time they were done the consensuses was Engine 1 needs to come home to Magnolia. Jim stayed behind and talked to Mr. Mood some more and told him he would call after the company membership voted on purchasing Engine 1 the night of the company meeting on April 12th.
The monthly meeting of the Magnolia Volunteer Fire was held on Tuesday, April 12, 2016 in the meeting hall at the fire house. When it came time for new business, J. Ronald Reed advised the membership that Jimmy Mood still had Engine 1 and wanted $3,000.00 for it. Paul Schreppler provided his thoughts as to what the company should do . . . we need to buy the truck there is another guy that wants to buy it. At that point Deputy Chief Charles Dougherty made a motion to purchase the truck. Past Chief Adam Gillespie seconded the motion. Dougherty then stated, the fire company needs to work on the truck as much as possible to keep the cost down. Then Jim Quillen spoke and stated what was in the written proposal and told the membership “It was the first truck we ever bought and there will never be another first truck we ever bought to serve the citizens of our community!” At that point Past Chief Adam Gillespie said we have a motion on the floor, it’s been seconded and we need to vote on it. President Consalo stated. “We have a motion to buy from Jimmy Mood, the first fire truck purchased by the Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company a 1929 Ford Model AA Fire pumper.” The vote was unanimous there was not one vote of nay. Mr. Mood was called immediately after the vote and told the fire company purchased Engine 1.
Upon the completion of the company meeting President Consalo appointed a Restoration Committee for Engine 1. Paul Schreppler and Jim Quillen were appointed as Co-chairmen, members of the committee would be Daniel Flynn, Charles Dougherty, Robert Helton, Richard Johnston, J. Ronald Reed and Robert Roe.
Payment was given to Mr. Mood on Monday, April 18, 2016; the fire company got the motor vehicle title and a bill of sale. On April 22, 2016, Jim Quillen, Robert Roe and Paul Schreppler went to Mr. Mood’s house to remove Engine 1 from the side of the yard. They had to remove vines and other vegetation, Mr. Mood’s son cut down two small trees that had grown up next to truck and low hanging branches from other trees. All of the parts lying around the truck were moved out of the way and placed in a pile away from Engine 1. The tires were inflated, and surprisingly they held the air. While getting the scissor jacks, the driver’s side front tire blew out, luckily no one was hurt. The crew began jacking Engine 1 up and pushing it to one side. This had to be done several times as the truck had sunk into the ground. Amazingly, the wheels all moved, the steering still worked and they were in business. They used a towing strap and pickup truck to pull Engine 1 out from under the trees and brush and placed her in the middle of the back yard. This would be easier to place the truck on a rollback to take it to Magnolia.
On the afternoon of April 20, 2016, Directors, Harry Consalo Jr., Robert Roe and History Committee members Richard Johnston and Paul Schreppler recovered Magnolia Engine 1 from Mr. Mood’s backyard. Moore’s Garage from Felton provided a rollback truck and driver to put the Engine 1 on; an enclosed trailer was used to put the disassembled parts from the truck in and Engine 1 was returned to the Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company. President Consalo sent out the following message via the Fire Company’s messaging system: “It is my pleasure to announce that we will be housing our original Engine 1 at 1830 hours tonight April 20th. Anyone wishing to participate please come and be a part of this historic event! Thanks to everyone for bringing this truck home.” At 6:30 p.m. about 20 members of the Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company were at Station 55. The parts which were off of Engine 1 were laid out to see what we had, some photographs taken of them before being placed in the garage and then Engine 1 was rehoused. Engine 1 is home for the first time since the late 1950s, there will still be another trip to Smyrna to pick up another load of parts which were removed from the truck and then the restoration work will begin.
On April 22, 2016, Charles Dougherty and Robert Roe, with Past Chief Herbert L. Semans Sr., and Ralph Satterfield on hand, the process began of trying to determine where the parts went on the truck which had been removed. The water tank was removed from the fire engine bed. They placed the Officer's side front fender in place, attached the cab front to the frame, the gasoline tank was attached to the cab front, both rear fenders were atached and the engine hood and front bumper were temporally placed at their appropiate locations. All of the lug nuts were lubricated and broken loose and two of the rear tires were removed. On April 23 & 25, 2016, Jim Quillen traced out the remaining company markings on Engine 1, the original hand applied gold leafing of "MAGNOLIA VOL> FIRE CO." the number "1"; the diamond emblem on the truck wheels and the "MEMBERS ONLY" lettering which was on the rear of Engine 1.
On May 5, 2016, a crew consisting of, Harry Consalo Jr., Kevin Consalo, Jim Quillen, Robert Roe, and Paul Schreppler went to Smyrna to recover the remaining removed parts of Engine 1. They picked up the headlights with holding bar, the taillights, rear grab bar, ladder racks, water bucket rack, rear compartment door, wooden extension ladder, the motor and transmission, a spare transmission, the radiator and shroud., a Hale Fire Pump Operators Manual and a diagram of what equipmentwas where on the running boards.
On May 10 & 11, 2016, Charles Dougherty attached the following newly arrived parts back on Engine 1; the ladder racks, headlight mounting bar and the rear grab bar. The wooden ladder was palced on the officer's side of the Engine to determine if it would have to be cut down, due to it not being the original ladder. He also power washed the rear panel, fire hose box, the radiator and shroud and flushed the radiator.
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