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Traveling the Back Roads

Posted Tuesday, October 6, 2009, at 6:04 PM

(Photo)
Michael Hargrove, Assistant Fire Chief, and Mike Campbell, firefighter, stand beside the Vanduser fire truck after the Bell City Community Day parade on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009.
You never know what you'll see when you travel the back roads of Southeast Missouri! I love to hop in the car and take off across country, whether I'm by myself or with a friend. No matter where I'm going, I find the trip as interesting as the destination!

I'm often late because something has piqued my curiosity and I've stopped to investigate.

Today's story happened on assignment at the Bell City Community Days Celebration after Labor Day. I do love these small town fall celebrations. I've been to three so far - including Marquand's, (pop. 433).

I was watching the Community Day parade, enjoying the sunshine, taking pictures of the mounted parade marshalls, the Bell City and Bernie bands, and the brightly-decorated floats, when the firetrucks rumbled by. I have a special place in my heart for these volunteer fire departments. Each town has scrimped and labored to come up with the means to purchase the older trucks that larger cities have replaced. I know how hard the townspeople and the fire fighters work, and it's truly heart-warming to see these trucks come through the parades.

Imagine my surprise when a big, sharp-looking fire truck came rolling by, and I saw that it was from Vanduser (pop 217). I had no idea that this tiny village had such an active fire department! I was chasing them down the street to get an interview, when, much to my disappointment, they headed for home.

After the parade, I drove out to Rotary Park to take a view shots of the kiddie games and whatever else I could find - and to my delight, the Vanduser fire truck came back and parked in a line beside the others! Yippee!

I talked with Michael Hargrove, the assistant chief, and Mike Campbell, a new fire fighter. These young men are just two examples of the energetic and enthusiastic fire fighters you'll find staffing these small rural fire departments. They get no pay, so they all have their own jobs, which they can hopefully drop in a minute to go racing off on a call, responding to a fire or a medical emergency.

The Vanduser Volunteer Fire Department, it turns out, has 20 members and the 3rd largest response area in Scott County. They are funded through the Scott County Rural Fire Department.

When the Vanduser fire department first began in 1986, they had a 1946 300-gallon fire truck. The guys did raffles and various fundraising activities, relying on private donations to purchase a 1964 Ford fire truck, which is still in service.

The beautiful vehicle in the photo above is a 1986 model but was refurbished in 1998. It has a 10-man cab, which is stocked with five SCBAs (self-contained breathing apparatus devices). It was purchased through a Federal grant.

"We can be in full gear and breathing in two minutes," Michael explained. "We carry basic life support."

I don't know about you folks, but I'm impressed! I may just start a series of reports on the small town local volunteer fire departments in this area.

And once Corey teaches me how to post extra stories on the NSC website, watch out!

From the water-logged streets of Advance, Mo. (pop. 1244) this is your roving rural reporter Madeline, only 35 minutes from quitting time!


Comments
Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Well, Maddie, you've done it again.

Here in The Big Country (the area encompassing Abilene and the smaller communities around it) we rely heavily on volunteer fire departments. Abilene of course has it's own regular fire department, but we have several small communities out in the rural areas. If you pay any attention to national news, especially during the hot summer months and are familiar with the problem we have down here with grass fires, you know that without these guys volunteering their time and energy, well, The Big Country could literally burn to the ground. When one of those fires starts, it may burn thousands of acres before it is brought under control and these guys and gals risk their lives to protect people, property and animals. And, as you mentioned, most of these volunteer fire departments only have older equipment to work with...hand-me-downs, basically. But what I have seen down here, and I'm sure it goes there as well, that when one of these fires starts near a community, it typically won't be just that community that responds...but all those around the area. These men and women deserve a huge show of gratitude.

And btw, I agree that a jaunt through the backwoods is always a good thing.

-- Posted by BarbaraNTexas on Tue, Oct 6, 2009, at 3:49 PM

I'd like to see stories about fire departments from Bell City and Perkins. Those are two very active departments that I know of. However, I think every town around this region would have interesting stories.

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Oct 6, 2009, at 6:14 PM

Oooooh...what a great story! I so love our local Volunteer Fire Department!!! Besides the obvious things they do they are BIG supporters of the youth in the community. This is my 10th year as a Girl Scout Leader. Over the years our local VFD has allowed us to have sleepovers at the station, let us ride on the Fire Truck in the Christmas Parade, assisted in helping the girls organize an Emergency Services Day for Daisy and Brownie Girl Scouts (which earned the Troop their Bronze Award), taught the girls how to operate a fire extinguisher by allowing them to put out an actual fire, and invited the Troop members (along with a few Boy Scouts) to act as 'victims' for a mass casualty training exercise....just to name a few! The girls in turn have volunteered at the VFD annual fundraising breakfast, helped to clean the fire station, and served lunch to the Red Knights as they make their annual toy ride each November.

-- Posted by fun2teach on Tue, Oct 6, 2009, at 7:27 PM

MADDY, DO TELL, what in the world are those folks in Marquand growing???? Your adventures continue to amaze us, although, it well could be some type of oriental??crab apple,....QUINCE???, but the leaves appear to be of the peach/apple family??

Girlfriend, you should have picked a bushel and made some jam....then we could have drawn better conclusions!!!! My lake buddy's fiance just made apple butter and jelly from her crab apples, and I am looking forward to biscuits involving these condiments...notwithstanding, to wit....I have some of the best Ozark Hill honey in memory, it is clover honey from over at Bolivar, MO.....the mildest honey I have yet tasted.....EXQUISITE!!!..the producer is Wade's Bee Farm, and Bob has his bees doing it right..$10/quart and shipping..I'm sending some out to AZ to kinfolks and recommend it to officianados hereabouts....other than this, respondent saith not......lol, kkr

-- Posted by kkcaver47 on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 10:54 PM

I really enjoy the trip to St Louis by taking Hwy 61 all the way. No traffic, pretty scenery and just a peaceful drive.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Fri, Oct 9, 2009, at 6:08 AM

Hey, kk, we don't even know if that fruit in Marquand is eatible! The only thing worse than poisoning yourself with strange fruit would be to put all the effort into making it up into jelly, eating it, and THEN poisoning yourself!

I love honey!!! Especially in the wintertime. Boy, have you made me hungry, talking about biscuits and honey!!!

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, Oct 9, 2009, at 10:53 AM


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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net or by phone at 573-722-5322.
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