Fire Buffs promote the general welfare of the fire and rescue service and protect its heritage and history. Famous Fire Buffs through the years include New York Fire Surgeon Harry Archer, Boston Pops Conductor Arthur Fiedler, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and - legend has it - President George Washington.

Paterson Riverside Station - Photo by Dr. Thomas Dayspring

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Monday, May. 15, 1933


Six Orphans

Early one evening last week a heavy rainstorm drenched New Jersey. At the Passaic Home & Orphan Asylum, six boys - Jacob Merlnizek, John Murdock, Douglas Fleming, Rudolph Borsche' Frank & Michael Mazzola, all between 11 and 15 - were worried.

Maybe their baseball field was washing away. They cunningly approached their matron. Didn't she want to know if the rain had damaged her garden? She did. She said they might go out if they were careful to put on raincoats and rubbers.

A quick look at the garden showed that it was all right. Closer inspection of the baseball diamond, where they played with worn-out canvas gloves and three damaged bats, was equally reassuring. Then the boys saw something else. A washout had completely carried away the ballast from under a section of track on the nearby Erie R. R. right-of-way!

Aware that an 8:10 commuting train was soon due, the boys pulled off their raincoats, ran down the track waving them wildly. The engineer said that if the boys had not been spry they would have been killed as he jerked his train to a stop, saving the lives of 500 passengers.

The grateful Erie promised a handsome award to the young Passaic heroes. The Mayor & Commissioners of Passaic planned to strike medals in their honor. Photographers and reporters flocked to the asylum. Was there anything they particularly wanted done? Yes. said the boys. Just make sure Babe Ruth heard about them.

Following Saturday, Passaic's small heroes met some of their big heroes at the circus in Manhattan. Clyde Beatty. tamer of lions and tigers, shook their hands and gave autographs. Hugo Zacchini, the human cannonball, greeted them. Gene Tunney came over to say hello. Max Schmeling invited them to his training camp at Oak Ridge, N. J. Babe Ruth, who sent each boy a telegram, will have them up to the Yankee Stadium soon, promises to try and knock a home-run in their honor.