Firefighter bridges time

(ed. - I don't know who this guy is, but I like his style. Support your tiny super-firefighters.)

During the first few decades of firefighting services in Roanoke, firefighters such as Howard Dowdy drove and washed the horses that pulled fire wagons.

More than a century later, Dowdy's grandson, Bev Mitchell, would drive and wash the gray, and later red, fire engines.

"I imagine we respond a whole lot quicker now than we did then," Mitchell said, chuckling.

The evolution of the department, from an all-volunteer organization in 1882 to the Fire-EMS department in 1995, is documented in a new book, "Firefighting in Roanoke."

The book, compiled by Roanoke firefighter Lt. Rhett Fleitz, includes more than 200 pictures that illustrate the changes in Roanoke's firefighting services, which began almost 125 years ago.

Much of the information in the book is from news clippings and photos that Capt. Maurice Wiseman of the Roanoke Fire Department collected in his lifetime.

After Wiseman's death in 2001, his family gave the boxes of papers and binders to the local firefighter's union.

Fleitz and firefighter Travis Collins used some of the information for "The Maurice Wiseman Project," a Web page with pictures and a time line of fire services in Roanoke. The project can be accessed through the union's Web site, www.local1132.org.

More here, where the article lies.


A matter of pride

I've noticed that for some unknown reason, the general working-class population of Roanoke likes to walk around in their work attire.

Which is not altogether a bad thing. What puzzles me, and of course being someone who wears both a jacket and apron, and hat as my uniform - why would you ever walk out of work wearing all of it?

It's one thing to wear your jacket if you are jumping in your car and heading home, but to keep your apron on..

I am proud of who I am and what I do, but I am not a paid billboard for who I do it for. (exception being the forgotten-roanoke.com jacket...) Nor do I want to look like I have stepped through a portal in space and appeared suddenly on the street, in full uniform.

To me, it's a matter of pride to show I am an individual, one with a job - sure, but an individual first. One who takes pride in who I am and how I look..

Ok, yes - if you are a doctor or hospital worker running out to get some lunch - that's one thing.. but if you work for the cafeteria at the hospital, take off the hairnet and scrubs when you leave. You look silly.

But thats one thing.. the other is a lot larger of an issue.

It's pride in Roanoke itself.

When you look at downtown Roanoke, what do you see? Do you see the past - slightly cleaned up? Do you see the destruction of things you knew and loved in the past? Do you see a city that does not care what you want? A city that is unable to figure out what it's doing wrong?

Or do you see the future: cold and empty, populated by the elderly and the poor folks? Failed ventures lining the streets, a city without a generations worth of citizens - who all moved out because - well, because.

Or do you see the future: a city of possibilities. With a cutting edge downtown life, remarkable selection of shops and restaurants, little avoidable loss in terms of buildings, a viable and self-sustaining nightlife, miles of wifi and fiber optic being used to it's fullest potential. Not only the Star City, but the Crown Jewel of all of Virginia. A place where government remodels itself to be flexible, and more responsive, and perhaps even a little more savvy when it comes to it's own business.

The question really is: do you see the limitations, or do you see the options? The potential, or the potential for disaster?

Are you going to let the poor blind lady with the wheel on her foot down?


I'd hate to be a Patent Clerk

Not the most normal of statements, but there is good reason for that.

Google (our overlords) has struck again, with the introduction of Google Patent Search.

Google Patent Search

How about that, already searching 7 million patents. Pretty nifty.

Try this one out for a lark.

(note: as I type this, a sudden Google Error page appears. Keep trying though.)

Little did I realize...

Little did I realize how many people realize the city is bass-ackwards, but feel they are powerless to do anything about it.

Every day I meet new people, have new conversations with people who realize that there are major flaws in the city's government, but feel they cannot effect a change.

Little did I realize the level of "status quo" which exists among the higher ups here - how dare you attempt to give forth a new idea, or a proven one when it changes the way they have to work, or worse than that - makes them actually work.

Little did I realize how many people mistake "can't do" with "won't do", causing elevated blood pressure levels.

And little did I realize that refurbishing and restoring the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bridge (aka - the Henry St. Bridge) would entail removing the entire bridge. This came as quite a shock to me when I walked out of work today... But thats what I get for having a day off.

Ah well, more to come.. the holidays are upon us, and the craziness is near endless.


As promised...

This is the photo of Florabella's window. Seen in a reflection on the windows across the street.
Hard to tell from this photo, but I'm hoping that it will pique your interests and you might just take a trip downtown instead of to the sterile mall.
211 First Street SW,
Roanoke, VA 24011

(decidedly NOT a paid advertisement, just a reminder of what exists downtown and no where else...)


Heartbreaking News

Ruby has passed.

Story here.

Thats a big space in the heart of Roanoke left vacant now..