Company 5 Centennial Reunion a Great Occasion! __________
Raymond K. Spencer Memorial Annex Announced
Bill Bossoli, Joe Rahl, and Richie Lostritto
There was a lot of reconnecting and reminiscing at the Hamden Elks Lodge Tuesday night, when over 50 present and former members of the Mt. Carmel Volunteer Fire Company assembled for a member reunion held during Co. 5's regular monthly meeting. Many member spouses also attended, as Company 5 kicked off its Centennial Celebration.
After the call to order, President Peter Mennone welcomed the seventy-plus attendees and introduced Hamden Fire Department Chaplain, Rev. Owen Sanderson, who gave the invocation. A motion was offered, seconded and passed to dispense with the regular business, pay the usual bills, and adjourn the meeting for a brief program, with plenty of socializing thereafter.
Past-President and current Treasurer, Karl Olson, served as master of ceremonies for the program, during which all of the past and present members were introduced. Communications of congratulations were read from Chief David Berardesca and former members Tom Connelly and Bill Scott.
highlight of the evening was a tribute to the late Raymond K. Spencer,
an active member from 1925 until 1992. Ray was also Company 5's
longest serving president, from 1957 until the 1980s.
meetings ago, the membership voted unanimously to name the 1975
building addition to Station 5 as the "Raymond K. Spencer Memorial
Annex," a closely guarded secret until the evening's special presentation.
5 President Peter Mennone and past-President Karl Olson presented Ray's
son, Gilbert, with a miniature version of a memorial plaque that will
be mounted on the wall of the 1975 building annex. Gil
is a Lifetime Member of the company and a retired Hamden battalion
chief, with 35 years as a career firefighter. Also present was Ray's
grandson and Gilbert's son, John Spencer, a Hamden battalion chief in
his 25th year of service.
The entire program was videotaped by Mark Guarino, husband of member Sue Guarino, and father of member Mark Guarino, Jr.
CLICK to read the plaque that will be mounted on the wall of the Raymond K. Spencer Memorial annex
Among the former members, perhaps the most significant showing was from those who joined the fire company in the 1950s, with about a dozen members represented. Former Company 5 member and HFD firefighter, Bill Bossoli, 92, was the most senior attendee, having joined right after his 18th birthday in 1937. Six past captains attended and posed for a photo with present Captain Mike Bessette.
Lots of Company 5 memorabilia, including old badges, jackets, car plaques, various uniform components and turnout gear, were displayed on several tables near the stage. Most of the items, on loan for the occasion, had belonged to Ray Spencer.
A slideshow of about 180 photos of Company 5 activities spanning the century was shown continuously on a flat screen television on the stage. The company's 50-year old parade banner, newly restored by member Nancy Olson, was prominently displayed from the stage with the current banner.
A special 16-page commemorative program, with lots of old Company 5 pictures and a two-page addendum about Ray Spencer, was distributed to the past and present members. Reminders of upcoming Centennial events were printed on special refrigerator magnets and distributed with the programs.
HFD Chaplain, Rev. Owen Sanderson, gives the invocation
Several retired Hamden firefighters
who were assigned to Station 5 were also invited to the reunion. For
most former members, the "paid men" played a significant and positive role in the volunteer experience at Station 5.
Retired Superintendent of Alarms and Apparatus Richie Lostritto, who generously
supplied Co. 5 volunteers with surplus equipment for Car 55 in the "old
days," met up with his old friend, Bill Bossoli. Richie and Bill were
both sworn in as members of the Hamden Fire Department on the same day
in October 1950.
Several attendees came from out of the area. Former Company 5 Captain Jim
Beirne and his wife, Kris, drove in from their home in Maine. Tony Melillo drove down from Landaff, New Hampshire.
reunion lasted until just after 9, with many former members expressing
their appreciation for the opportunity to reconnect with their fellow
members, in some cases after more than 50 years.
staff of the Hamden Elks Lodge, under the direction of Robin Fusco and
retired HFD lieutenant Brian Forsyth, prepared over sixty Philly
cheesesteak dinners for the reunion. Members of the Red Knights
Motorcycle Club volunteered to serve the dinners to the attendees. Two
commemorative cakes (see photos below) were the dessert.
members of the Mt. Carmel Volunteer Fire Company are extremely grateful
for the outstanding support from the members of the
Hamden Elks and the Red Knights, who helped to make our reunion a huge
success. Thank you!
All photos by Dan Johnson. Other reunion photos are welcome. Please submit them as JPGs to the website (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CLICKING on most photos below not only enlarges them, but in some cases also provides more detailed information in the caption below the enlargement.
Karl Olson introduces all of the present and former members (CLICK to enlarge)
Fifty present and former members attended (CLICK to enlarge)
Jim Beirne and Richie Lostritto (CLICK to enlarge)
Frank Fowler, Ben Feinn, Bill Farrell and Mike Mele (CLICK to enlarge)
Members Tom Corbett, Heather Cohen and Emily Corbett (CLICK to enlarge)
Members Natan Ravid, Nancy Olson and Pete Mennone (CLICK to enlarge)
Bill Farrell, Mike Mele and Augie Williams (CLICK to enlarge)
Tony Mellilo and Larry Gershman
Past Captains Joe Rahl (1948-49, 54-56), Tom Doherty (1956-58, 61-62), Don Steele (1967-72), Dave Johnson (1972-75), Jim Beirne (1976-78), and Karl Olson (1980s-2000s) pose with current Co. 5 Captain Mike Bessette (2000s-present)
Tim Steele, Clark Hurlburt, Don Steele, and Joe Yoga (CLICK to enlarge)
Clark Hurlburt, Larry Gershman and Vic Mitchell (CLICK to enlarge)
Clark Hurlburt, Dave Johnson, Paul Moody, Dean Smith, Bill Chalmers, and Russ DeAlmo (CLICK to enlarge)
Current HFD Battalion Chief John Spencer, grandson of Ray, with Harold Mangler and Joe Rahl (CLICK to enlarge)
Tim Steele with dad, Don (CLICK to enlarge)
Joe and Bill at one of several displays of Company 5 memorabilia (CLICK to enlarge)
NO CAPTION NECESSARY (But CLICK to enlarge, nonetheless)