Monday, January 17, 2011

Fire Chief's Demise Strongly Denied

December 1966
  Like Mark Twain, Fire Chief Lyle Buchanan had to announce last week that reports of his death were highly exaggerated.
  Somehow, rumor was spread about last Thursday morning that Rochester’s fire chief was fatally injured in an accident. Fortunately, Lyle was on hand in the flesh to deny his demise.
  The chief was in an accident, to be sure. He and Village employee Ray Zoellner, jumped in the fire department’s pickup truck to answer an alarm on Hixon Road. While cautiously rounding a curve on icy West Gunn Rd., the wheels turned but the truck didn’t. It hit the snow piled alongside of the road and some 200 gallons of water shifted and the truck didn’t. The truck flipped into the ditch.

  The truck was still running but fire-conscious Lyle quickly shut off the engine. He and Ray climbed out both unhurt and the chief dashed to a nearby home and phoned for the other trucks. The fire turned out to be an exploding furnace that blew the smoke stack out of the chimney. There was little damaged but there is several hundred dollars of damage to the pickup.
  SOME PEOPLE CLAIM they first heard the report of the chief’s death on the Thursday morning news over the Pontiac radio station. Word quickly spread. Lyle’s son, Jim, was having coffee at Knapp’s Restaurant when a few citizens, surprised to see him there, asked about the accident and even asked where his father was. “I suppose he’s down at the fire station,” Jim replied.
  Lyle called the Pontiac radio station, but they deny reporting his death. The Bloomfield Township fire chief was in a fatal collision on Telegraph Road the night before, but his name of Valentine Yamszeski doesn’t sound much like Buchanan. And a few hours before Lyle’s ditching of the truck, a man driving a car was hit by a train in nearby Goodison. There were rumors that he was killed and Lyle thinks that people got the two accidents mixed up.
* * *
  MRS. WALTER (Mary Lee) Kowalczyk’s ambition was to be a policewoman. In fact, she majored in police administration at Michigan State University. But her marriage prevented her from ever actually going into the business— until last week. As a maker of doll clothes, she was staffing the Hobby Mall downtown last Friday afternoon when someone reported that two boys had stolen a slot car from the Greenhouse Hobbies portion of the store.
  She found the boys at nearby Case’s Hardware. Bravely walking up to them, she identified herself as a policewoman and obtained the boys’ names. They denied taking anything. She then asked them to walk across the street back to the Hobby Mall.
  Leaving Case’s, one boy pulled back his coat and Mary Lee caught sight of a meat cleaver tucked in his belt. It was then that she felt she had made a big mistake. But the boys went along and police were called. Later, the boys admitted shoplifting there and to taking other items from other downtown stores.
  The meat cleaver made Mary Lee wonder about the question of citizen involvement when seeing a lawless act. But this time it paid off.