Chesterton Tribune

Fire Department history

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Voice of the People:


Enjoyed reading about the Chesterton Fire Department celebrating their 100th year anniversary. Especially, Fire Department facts, the one about two men responding to the alarm in 1937. My father was one of them.

I remember being told of that story and have told and retold it many times. My mother took me as a babe in arms to the trial. They were acquitted. After all, it was a volunteer fire department and they volunteered!

My father, who was quite a poet, wrote a poem about it, which I’d like to share with you. It’s titled:

“Firemen Nell”

The boys were whooping it up in the Palace Cafe,

Men about town and W.P.A.

All at once during a quiet spell,

Was heard the town hall fire bell.

Rushing to help as good volunteers do,

The first to the engine would drive it they knew.

By the siren’s wail the town folk could tell,

Behind the wheel sat fireman Nell.

Up old Broadway with a clatter and bang,

All over the truck clung the Palace gang.

Brave and sturdy these firemen swell,

And behind the wheel sat fireman Nell.

The hose was connected to the hydrant they thought,

But when the water came, what havoc it wrought.

The onlookers were drenched from their head to their toes,

As firemen Nell wrestled with the hose.

Then homeward they went, a job well done,

Little knowing their trouble had just begun.

For the town board were angry at them answering the bell,

And soon behind bars sat firemen Nell.


Thanks for the memories

Joan Erichsen

a/k/a “Johnnie” Nellessen


Posted 4/18/2002