Saturday December 22, 2012

Providing help
for the homeless

Editor of the Reformer:

Dec. 21 was National Homeless Day; It also was a pretty nasty day weather-wise. The gathering on Brattleboro’s Main Street, to show support was, as usual, well-attended by the stalwarts -- those regular citizens who are perennially in-tune with and care about our less fortunate citizens -- and we salute you.

Thus far, this end of the 2012 season, the fine area citizens have donated over seven full bags of clothes and blankets to our efforts; these, in turn, all were forwarded to the Brattleboro Area Drop-In Center for distribution. Also, Warm Hands itself contributed $300 of assorted children clothes, purchased locally through the efforts from our volunteers.

We plan to keep our Winter Drive going throughout January 2013 in the hopes that as folks receive new clothing, they will consider re-cycling their older clothes into our efforts.

We are continuing to ask for all manner of winter clothing, especially for the wee ones. Also, we are asking the knitters of our communities to consider wool hats, gloves and those wonder afghans for both adults and children. And blankets -- we always need blankets.

Winter is always a trying time for many of our community and your efforts and support just help to make things a bit better.

Robert L. Fagge, chair

Warm Hands, Warm Heart, Inc.,

Dover, Dec. 21

A tribute to John Wheelden, Sr.

Editor of the Reformer:

I met Johnny in the fall of 1980. At all the places to meet, yup, we met at a building fire. I was a "probie" with the Wilmington Fire Department. The fire was in a mobile home, pretty well involved, at the Southern Vermont Boating Club where I later learned that John owned a camp. When we pulled up, Johnny started pulling a line off the truck and yelling to charge the line. We all wondered who this guy was. We put the fire out and got to talking and learned that John was a captain with the Brattleboro Fire Department.

That was the beginning of a long friendship with not only myself but many other Wilmington firefighters. John always welcomed us to his camp and we had quite the work details there. He called Ralph Staib and Bobby Spirka "his contractors." We hung sheetrock on the ceilings and put up wood paneling and built a shed out back. I remember well the day we were all there working on the shed, a huge thunderstorm erupted and it was not long and the tone went out for a barn fire at green meadows school on Stowe Hill Road. I tailed one of the engines that day with Johnny standing beside me through the rain, lightning and thunder. What a blast!

John would invite us to his Christmas parties for his platoon at his house on Brook Street in Brattleboro. He had his special room, decorated with everything fire department. He was especially proud to show off his award and framed newspaper clippings of when he saved two children Dec. 5, 1975,from a Green Street apartment fire. He was the true definition of a firefighter.

In 1982, I had the opportunity to do a ride along and spend the night at Brattleboro central with Johnny’s platoon. I did this several times and from those experiences I got to meet two people who have become lifelong friends to me. That’s how Johnny was, friendship was contagious around him.

Johnny also had quite the sense of humor. I recall getting back to the Wilmington station early one morning after fighting a building fire most of the night. We were cleaning and packing hose and others were cleaning up the air pacs used and someone asked, "Who wants a cold beer?" Johnny looked at his watch and it was about 5:30 and without missing a beat he said, "What the heck, why not, it is after 5."

Johnny helped many of us cut and split our firewood in Wilmington; Coming back from the parade at Bennington Battle Day and having a cook out at Johnny’s camp; Johnny’s retirement party from the fire department in 1987; His 80th birthday party in 2005 -- all great memories of John Wheeldon.

I always kept in contact with John throughout the years. I feel very blessed that I got to visit with him one last time exactly one week before he passed away.

Rest in peace, good buddy. You certainly earned it.

Tom Redin,

honorary life member,

Wilmington Fire Dept.,

Marlborough, N.H., Dec. 16

What’s the message?

Editor of the Reformer:

"Democrats cut Social Security benefits." That’s the headline the democratic party invites? Are you sure you want this legacy, Mr. President? Senator Shaheen?

Some of us know what "chained CPI" means.

Jim Moulton,

Spofford, N.H., Dec. 19