The following piece was originally published on Aug. 31, 2015. It is being re-run, with changes only in the amount of years that have passed, in memory of my father, Bill Van Develde, former longtime Fair Haven Fire Company member, president and captain of the Fire Police and chairman of the stock room at the fair, on the anniversary of his death on Aug. 31, 1983. RIP, Dad. You are missed. Thank you for all the embarrassing moments that I didn’t appreciate enough. Thank you for making Fair Haven my home. Thank you for being a real dad. See you later at the fair …
By Elaine Van Develde
It’s been 36 years, but I can still see his face and that kooky Brylcreemed hairdo. I can still hear his crazy belly laugh and that signature “Take ‘er easy, buddy!” I can still see him slapping kids on the back, forever clutching his trusty clipboard, pencil perched behind his ear, sweat on the brow and finger wagging.
The night is still. A light is on. Trucks are out of the bays. Cartoony faces and ghosts in empty seats on unassembled carnival rides stare back in the dark. Someone’s cooking at the Fair Haven firehouse. It’s fair time.
April 25 marked what would have been this editor’s father’s 90th birthday — longtime Fair Havenite and lifetime member of the Fair Haven Fire Department and captain of its Fire Police. The following, in light of that milestone, is, in full disclosure, an opinion piece — a tribute to him and the grandson he never knew, an unbeknownst community service family team …
It’s been 32 years, but I can still see his face and that kooky Brylcreemed hairdo. I can still hear his crazy belly laugh and that signature “Take ‘er easy, buddy!” I can still see him slapping kids on the back, forever clutching his trusty clipboard, pencil perched behind his ear, sweat on the brow and finger wagging.
That’s the vivid, comforting ghost image of Bill Van Develde I still see and hear roaming around on the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair grounds. He was head of the stockroom back in the 1970s and 80s and he was my quirky, big-hearted dad.
But, there was a lot of that, like an indelible stereotypical snapshot, back in the day. Times have changed, but the dedication of the local volunteer firefighter, from generation to generation, has not.
In this photo, circa early 1970s, the guys are rolling out for a parade. They are in the back of the firehouse in their dress uniforms.
The guy hanging on the outside of the truck is none other than this editor’s dad, Bill Van Develde, a life member of the fire company and former captain of the Fair Haven Fire Police.
Did you know that the rules for riding on the outside of a fire truck had changed? Who’s inside the cab? And which truck is this? The Mack?