Sunday, August 2, 2009

Pickup Day - Part II

Sister is realllly wanting in the engine with me, so first things first. Go to her south end house so she can drop the burden of having her own vehicle along, and we have a few places we want to go. We pull up, neighbors giving us undisguised and puzzled stares, and I give a couple of blasts on the out-of-tune Grover 1510's (they have lost their 'firetruck' stuttertone sound and bring to mind instead a UPS truck... another project).

The brother in law was just heading out the door to pick up the nephew in the north end. Sister parks the Explorer and in a flash she has an evil plan.

Soon she and I are on our way to pick up her kid and his girlfriend from an afternoon party. In the engine, of course. All the way across town to another neighborhood, more stares, more honks, more fun. It was unclear if nephew would be mortified or thrilled. He claimed the latter, and he and his girlfriend took the jumpseats before we pulled away with more weak UPS truck honks.

First stop: Tacoma Fire Station 2, where rumor has it one of the other 1970 ALF sisters is in storage in the basement (Station 2's basement has a rear ground-level entry and used to be the Fire Garage a long, long time ago). TFD has a handful of old apparatus quietly retained for eventual museum purposes, it is hoped, and in future years it will be realized just how valuable and cool this is. As luck would have it, a Battalion Chief was just returning from another errand and met us at the back. Alas, the sister is not here, but in another facility not easily accessed without prior arrangements. Amusingly, this BC also vaguely remembers me as the whacker kid fire buff from 8's of many years ago. I think he is pleased to see that I turned out sane and allegedly a productive member of the service. But wait, I just drove up in a privately-owned fire engine.... OK never mind the appearance of sanity. I think he was just being polite.

Next stop: Old Tacoma Fire Station 8. It is a private residence now, so we don't want to intrude. I park the engine in the street in front of the apron, jump out and grab a couple of pictures, and we're out of there. We amuse ourselves ever so slightly by running the engine back down 43rd Street towards 'M' Street as we recall Engine 8 doing endless times from our childhoods.

The nephew and girlfriend have had about enough now (it is a super-hot day even without sitting next to the hot cowl over the raging Detroit Diesel), so we drop them off at home. Still, they were all grins waving back at people giving them the usual puzzled stares and happy waves from the children.

Next stop: Tacoma Fire Station 10, this engine's apparent last full-time house when assigned in Tacoma. Luckily, the current iteration of Tacoma Engine 10 is in the house. 10's is one of the busiest companies in Tacoma now (~3,000 runs per year), so this is a stroke of good luck. We park across the street at first to stay out of the way, and knock on the door. Listening to just the duty crew, it was something like "Can we help you? You have a what? Really? Oh, it's here??" So we have FF Brent and FF Karen humoring us and our surprise drop-in, but you know it is cool for them to get a first-hand contact with the past of their house, something they are too young to have ridden when it was still with Tacoma. The LT didn't come out. Maybe he knew who I was, heh. Anyway, soon they insist that we back the engine right onto the apron for pictures. FF Karen even presented me with a parting gift when it was time for us to move on and let them get back to their day, which was extremely nice of her, and above and beyond... as for me it was gift enough to see old Engine 10 in front of her old house.

I'd post pictures - I have them - but the Blogspot posting interface doesn't work 100% on the computer I am using at the moment, but pictures will be forthcoming at some point.

Next stop: Mom's house. Living by old Station 8 was a significant part of her life, too, though she moved away from there several years before old Station 8 closed. Sister and I stop and switch places before we pull up, and Mom's husband is shocked to see sister behind the wheel as we pull up... "Wait.... you're driving??" This tickles him and Mom to no end. It is a short visit because time is tight. Mom really and truly thought I was nuts to buy this engine and made sure to tell me as much in advance, but I arrange for silence before starting up the big engine again, and she cannot contain her emotional reaction. She clenches a fist in victory, looks up and says "Yessssss!" You see, she's not nuts, but if it invoked this response in her anyway, then you get what it does for my sister and I. Well, just say you do and we'll move on anyway.

The last two appearances of the day were at house parties. One was a party that sister was involved in, and all of the grownups came out and walked around and climbed on and poked in and opened every door and compartment on that engine. Like young kids always wanted to do, but I gave them the green light to explore to their hearts content, and they all dropped 20 years for the next fifteen minutes.

Finally to a housewarming party that I had been invited to that day, and I parked the engine right on the front lawn. I'll tell ya... that sure brought out the neighbors for a meet and greet at the housewarming! There were lots of actual children this time, and again they got the green light to have fun. If I ever get this engine a new paint job, access will be restricted, but right now it is a 'working' piece, and a few more scuffs are of no importance. We stayed close to keep them from falling off or getting hurt, but I am here to tell you those kids had a blast. Literally. Lots of them. Lots and lots. So much so, in fact, that I swear they would have emptied the air tanks completely out with all that air horn blasting action except that I was sure we were heading towards a disturbing the peace complaint and finally put the kabosh on air horn usage.

It was a long and lonely dark drive home after that.

It was about as grand of a pickup day as one could hope for.

I don't know when this engine will get back to her hometown again, but the one grand day in town was sort of epic considering how long she had waited for it. And sometimes home isn't about place as much as it is about being cared for. I have a wife and six children who are my first priority, and other obligations that come after, but I intend to provide old Engine 10 a good place.

Welcome home, baby.

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