Former residental donates to HOCO Fire Museum

PAT FRIDGEN
Ray Mowen has another item to display in the Rescue Hose Company Fire Museum at 842 S. Washington St. The fire helmet was made by Cairns and Brother, a company still in existence. William Brewer Jr., formerly of Greencastle, donated the hat. It is aluminum, which Cairns started using in the 1920s.

An historic firefighting item has found its way home. One man was happy to send it and another was happy to receive it.

William C. Brewer Jr., Morristown, NJ recently mailed an old fire helmet to Ray Mowen, committee chairman for the Greencastle Rescue Hose Co. Fire Museum.

The helmet had been carefully stored in a closet in Brewer's home, and had survived two generations of play by children.

Brewer received it as a gift in the mid-1950s, when he lived in Greencastle with his family. The youngster had told his parents all he wanted for Christmas was a fire hat like the town firemen wore. It appeared under the Christmas tree. Today Brewer surmises his dad made a donation to the Rescue Hose Company in order to obtain the item.

The age of the protective gear is not known, but Mowen pointed out the logo reads GFD for Greencastle Fire Department, rather than RHC.

Brewer played with the helmet as a boy, and eventually his daughter and son did too.

He is the son of Dr. William Brewer Sr., the last physician in private practice in Greencastle. He set up his office in 1939 on West Baltimore Street. He later moved to 359 E. Baltimore St. The family lived in the upper floors and the medical office was on the lower level. He and Dr. William Guennon both served the public, and Guennon then retired from his practice further east on the same street. Dr. Brewer remained active until he died in 1978.

Brewer, 64, has good memories of his youth in Greencastle. His sixth-grade class, taught by Nan Conrad Flaherty, met in the utility room of the fire station on South Carlisle Street, due to overcrowding in the school on South Washington Street.

Patients came to see his dad all day, including during evening office hours. Dr. Brewer also made house calls. Because of that busy schedule, Brewer said his father never had the time to be a member of the Rescue Hose Company.

His parents divorced so Brewer moved with his mother and siblings to Philadelphia after his sophomore year. He was 15. He graduated from high school, went on to college, married his wife Carol and stayed on the east coast. He is retired from a career in the hotel industry. He maintains friendships with people in Greencastle and has been able to visit the community through the years.

Brewer was pleased to learn of Mowen's interest in obtaining RHC memorabilia through an Echo Pilot article. "I'm happy the helmet came home to roost," he said. "I think what Ray and his committee are doing is really great."