Apr 15 2019 - 7:56am, Ben Truwe
Thanks to SOHS's intrepid, persistent volunteers, the Amphibious Fire Engine was in the Pear Blossom Parade in 2019. Here is their story, as told by Ben Truwe (photos provided by Doug McGeary):
Our grand plan for participation in this year's parade was to meet at Hanley farm around 9:00 Saturday morning. Simple. But when we tried it we all found our way blocked by police and hundreds of Pear Blossom Run participants.
(Note to self: Pick up the fire engine at dawn next year.)
My attempts to get through or even to find a decision maker to get us through would be boring to relate. Every policeman I talked to said I wouldn't be able to get through until 11:00, the same time the parade would begin. I drove to our spot in the lineup, where I found the Elegant Bustles and Bows people waiting patiently. I told them I would try to make a miracle happen, but not to count on having a fire engine to ride.
Ten o'clock found me resigned and back at home, where I got a phone call from Cyndi Noyes--the hero of this story--who while I was wrangling with the state trooper at Bybee Corner was doing the same at Hanley and Rossanley.
What Cyndi did differently was not to give up. If you ask her I'm sure she'd be happy to relate the tale of her ever-so-polite (yeah, right) conversation with the trooper on her end, who refused to let drivers through even though the runners were gone.
So Cyndi was still at the intersection when he decided to let people through at 10:00. She called me, and I raced to the farm and picked up the fire engine. It must have been the last entrant to arrive at the parade lineup, where I found Bustles and Bows still waiting.
Doug McGeary was there too, and I shanghaied John Miehle from the Holly Theatre float to help Doug carry our banner. John is a founder of the Medford Food Coop and a Holly volunteer.
The combination of the fire engine and costumed riders and walkers was a success. People were happy to see us. The engine started fine, and the vehicle ran like a champ all day.
After the parade Doug and I parked the fire engine by the Lithia tower and let kids climb on it and take it apart. Everything that could be taken apart by hand was disassembled and put together again, some of them repeatedly. We had as many as a dozen kids on it at a time.
At 4:00 the crowds began to thin, so Doug and I stowed our artifacts and gear and got ready to go. Doug was ready to direct me as I reversed.
Started it up, put it in reverse, let out the clutch, and--nothing.
First gear, nothing. Second, third, fourth--nothing.
How could I have burned out the clutch without being aware? I had run it in the parade in the "granny gear"--compound low--so it wasn't like I was feathering the clutch all the way.
It seemed like forever, but we finally noticed that the power takeoff lever was in neutral. Now we had yanked on that lever for a year while we were getting the fire engine back on the road, and it wouldn't budge--but it couldn't stand up to a couple hundred kids.
And thus endeth my story. I stowed the fire engine back in the barn, drove home, had a hard cider and took a nap. The end.