Wildland Firefighter Foundation
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Home / WLF TheySaid / From the 1950’s

  • 08/22/2016
  • Memories

Reading this web page brought memories to this 76yo who got his first USFS fire-fighting paycheck when he was 14 in 1953

Some memories

* Training?  What was that?

* 360 degree rolling a 1957 1 ton Chevy PU with a slip on unit in the middle of a brush fire in Cleveland NF- AND –

* receiving a special hard hat award (and an article and picture in the Alpine paper) for wearing my new-fangled hard-hat – which kept me from injury.  The award? – my own “Turtle Club” hard hat

* Painting the Lyons lookout house by scraping off years of old paint, while awaiting fire calls.

* Stationed in Corral Canyon – an old Navy desert building – one layer of plywood with screened flaps that opened for ventilation.

* Pulling night duty (Santana winds) at Cuyamaca lookout and reporting a gray road in Laguna in the morning as a smoke.

* Spending a summer with my wife and son at Frog Meadow in Sequoia NF where we were met by about 30 mice in the house including 5 in the oven.

* The nearby 4 wheel drive access Tobias lookout had a couple who had been there for years and w ho believed that te sun was changing positions on the horizon from year-to-year.

* Pulling a 36 hour straight shift on a fire and being told we would not be paid for it.

I was raised in a sort of USFS/NPS family as my dad was the summer superintendent of Blister Rust Control Camps in Sequoia and Yosemite NP in the late 1940’s, and a summer patrol for the USFS on the Cleveland.  In the rest of the year he was a school principal.

So, there you have some of my memories from several summers and one year of USFS work.


It has been fun reading this site!!






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  1. bill
    September 22, 2016 Reply

    Hey there. Thanks for the stories. Just out of curiosity, can you tell me how PPE has changed since the 1950’s. Sounds like most people didn’t wear hardhats, is this true? What about gloves? And I am assuming you didn’t wear nomex, so what did you typically wear on the line?

  2. Henry
    April 29, 2017 Reply

    Thanks for the stories! I like to hear how the fire service has changed over the years and yet seems to stay the same.

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