On Christmas morning, for me in the early 1940s, there was always the excitement of looking down from our house, high up at 879 Humboldt Road to the streets below looking for the fire truck. I could catch glimpses of it as it wound its way on the narrow roads. It stopped at group of residents, who had been impatiently waiting for Santa. When the low wail of the siren got louder, it was time to run out to meet the red “Indiana” fire engine. A smaller Dodge pumper truck used for grass fires would follow the engine.
The Brisbane Volunteer firemen would quickly jump off the trucks with big smiles and handed us a small paper bag containing an apple or orange and some hard Christmas candy. Best of all, there was Santa, sitting and waving on the fire truck. The truck would slowly drive off, with firemen waving and wishing us a Merry Christmas: mission accomplished. My sister, brother and I were content; Christmas for us was now complete.
Many years have gone by. Our children, grandchildren and those who were raised here, still talk about the anticipation they felt and the excitement of Christmas morning, waiting for the sound of the siren so they could run outside. As time went on, our population grew and the Brisbane Lion’s Club came to aid the volunteer firemen with this enormous task. It took time to fill bags, load the truck, plan their routes and deliver Christmas joy to residents.
In the late 1940s or early 1950s, I remember seeing the life-sized Lion in the back of Jess Salmon’s pickup truck that represented the Brisbane Lion’s Club in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s. If you’re new in town, on Christmas morning you will experience a special tradition possibly seen only in Brisbane! Listen for that low siren and you will hear the roar of a truck, a fire truck. When your door is opened, you will see the empty street magically fill with smiling neighbors and their excited children. The Lion’s in their hats and yellow vests, and firemen, reaching out toward groups with Christmas treat bags.
This event has always created such a wonderful feeling of warmth in the December chilly air. Faces brighten and at times children are lifted up to talk with Santa on the truck. At times he comes down from the big red truck and visits to the delight of crowds of children. I hope that this unique tradition will continue for many years, as a tribute to honor the early Brisbane Volunteer Firemen, who devoted their time and created such a special event for Brisbane children. I will never forget the old Santa, sitting high up in the red “Indiana,” waving a gloved hand and wishing everyone, “Merry Christmas.”