Does MPHS have photographs: Yes
Address in MP: 105 S. Elm
Birth Date: 1896
Death Date: June 1990
Date: June 1919
Spouse: Helen Busse Biermann
Interesting information on life, career, accomplishments:
Frank Biermann came to Mount Prospect in 1911 when his father, a teamster, was hired by William Busse to grade and maintain the streets in Mount Prospect. Fred Biermann later married William Busse’s Daughter, Helen. Frank work for William Busse in his tore on the corner of Busse and Main. In 1927, William Busse split up his store, forming Busse Buick and William Busse Jr. Dry Goods. He sold his farm implement Business to Herman Meyn and his Hardware store to Frank Biermann, creating Busse-Biermann Hardware. Frank Biermann was also very involved in local organizations. He joined the Mount Prospect Volunteer Fire Department in 1915 and served for 41 years. From 1928 to his retirement in 1956 he was Chief of the volunteer department. Frank Biermann was also a member of the Lions Club for 50 years and very involved with the Mount Prospect Historical Society. Below is a selection from an oral history interview done with Frank Biermann.
Date of Interview: October 27, 1969
Text of Oral History:
MODERATOR: Then, Mrs. Howe, will you please present the program?
MRS. HOWE: All right. Tonight we’re very, very happy to have Mr. Biermann with us. He’s been with us all the time because he started this motley crew, shall we say. The nicest thing about Frank is that whenever you go and you say, “Frank, I need your help,” he says, “What can I do for you?” He never says, “Well, I’m kind of busy,” or, “I don’t know if I’m going to find the time,” like so many of us do. He always is there. Just as a shining example, we were out — where were we, Frank, when I asked you for the –at the board of directors meeting. I’ve got to clarify that, his wife is sitting here. At the board of directors meeting I said, “Say, Frank, I thought we had that picture of you in your fire chief uniform in our file. It’s not in there. Have you got a picture?” He said, “Yes, I think so,” and I said, “Gee, I’d like to have it.” The next morning I walked into work and the girl at the Frieden machine said, “Say, there was a man in here looking for you this morning,” and I said, “Oh, so early?” And she said, “He left this present.” I said, “Oh, good,” and here was the picture from Frank at nine o’clock the next morning, and that’s just indicative of him. If you want something done, ask a busy man. I’m not going to tell you what he’s going to tell you –I’ll let him tell you about our great fire department and all the years that he’s put in, and maybe he’ll mix in a few side remarks. Frank, come on up.
FRANK BIERMANN: This is sort of an unusual thing for me. I haven’t done this for a good many years, to talk to a public audience like this. Of course, at lot of you, I think, are good friends of mine and I’ll just try to feel more or less at home. Now, you talked about if you want something done and you want it done in a hurry, then ask me –I don’t know about that. That was orders, “I’d like to have it the first thing in the morning.” What do you do when a lady tells you she wants something right away, you get busy. Well, anyhow, I hope you folks will bear with me. I’ll try to reminisce a little bit and give you a little story of my history and the history of the fire department. When I talk about the fire department I want you to keep this in mind –I’m not taking credit for it. The boys that worked with me, they’ve got it coming as well as I have. All [of us] worked hard to make a nice department out of it, and that’s the start of my story. Now, I came here in the horse-and-buggy days. We moved to this town on March 8, 1911, and we came here with wagons. We were moved in wagons. Like you are when you have neighbors and another, everybody helps one another like you did when we first came to town here. Everybody was more like neighbors. You helped one another real close. It’s changed a little bit since then, but we won’t go into that. Neighbors would come along and they’d come along with their wagons and we’d load up and we came to Mt. Prospect. That was March the eighth. It was a fairly decent day. It wasn’t too cold. I remember it very distinctly. It was nice. We came in, and crossing over Elmhurst Road at that time we went over the railroad like you did when the Mt. Prospect Road went over the top and had to go up and then down again, and then alongside of it where the Jewel is now the road came in then past Fulle’g and then so on. Well, the reason we came here, this town was going to start to develop. The Busse brothers really went into it and started organizing real good. That’s George’s father, my father-in-law and Louie and Al and a few others. Those were the Busse brothers. They were getting ready to get this town in shape. I just want to give you just a little history of the town first, if you don’t mind and if you can bear with me. They needed a man with a team of horses who could put all his time in to help build sidewalks at that time. Now, everything was mud, prairie, corn fields and what have you, and they were building up and laid out the streets. A survey was made, so then they were getting ready to build sidewalks and they needed somebody to do the teaming. They didn’t have trucks, in those days. There were no gasoline buggies flying around like they are today. It was all done with horses. So my father-in-law –before that he wasn’t my father-in-law; he was Helen’s dad –got in touch with Dad and convinced him to sell there and come to Mt. Prospect. They got together and Dad finally said yes, so here’s how we got here. Well, that’s the start there. Now, getting back to the year 1911 when we were here, things were going along and everything was going along, so then the Improvement Association started and was organized. They were starting to take care of this — they had a lot of little things to take care of, like it was a pretty dark town. If I remember, they bought twenty-five kerosene lamps –lanterns, stands; no, they were lamps, really, on a pole –and then they had to have an individual clean them every day and oil them up and take care of it. George, you remember some of this, too. If I reminisce a little bit too much you correct me a little bit, will you?
GEORGE: I had one of those lights in front of my house.
BIERMANN: I know you did, and I’ve got a picture of that, too. So that was our lighting system in town. Now, the roads and everything was all mud. Everything was mud. They graded them. Dad did a lot of that after the survey was made. He did a lot of grading up and down, and there wasn’t much to it because it started –where the village warehouses are today is where the pickle factory was. Now, the pickle factory had great, big wooden vats. It was quite a pickle territory around here, and the farmers used to bring the pickles in and they’d put them in there. Woolrich Ta~lor, I think it was, at the time in Chicago were the ones that ran it. That’s when they’d put them in brine –the salt brine in here –and stored them. Then they’d load them on the cars and haul them into Chicago by railroad. So that was the extreme west end of town, believe it or not. The north end, of course, was Central Road. The south end was the railroad, and the east end was where the creamery was, which is Elm Street. Now, that was the size of the town when I came to town here, and you could almost shoot a rifle through and not hit anybody because there weren’t too many houses. Well, anyhow, the population at the time, as I remember it, was 149 in 1911. That isn’t very many, but they were very progressive. They wanted to make a nice town out of it, and everybody got busy. The Improvement Association came along and got things rolling, and then, of course, now in 1913 — September 29 of 1913 –was when the fire department started getting organized. They got together and wanted to organize a fire department, so they met in the old schoolhouse –the white schoolhouse that used to stand on Main and Central. They organized a meeting there, and when they did –I made a few notes. If you’ll pardon me, I’ll try to read off some of them. The first meeting at the public school was held for the purpose of organizing a fire department. Now, Joey Hart was elected chairman pro tern. That was the brother of Berth~ Hart. John Pullman –I tried to get him to come here tonight –he was the first secretary. In fact, he served on the village board later, too. But he called me today, and he said, “Frank, I can’t make it.” I said, “Well, I’m sorry that you can’t, John. I probably needed you to back me up on some of these dates.” I can’t fib too much anyhow because two of my former bosses are here. There are two ex-mayors here. See them? I’ve got to be careful what I say or I’m liable to get in trouble. All right, then a committee was appointed to draw up sets of rules and regulations, and the meeting was to be held on November 8th. They started to progress pretty fast. Now, here are the few members that I’m going to mention who were at the first meeting who were elected November the eighth. C. D. Busse was elected chief. A lot of people remember Chris. Joey Hart was assistant chief –that’s Bertha’s brother. John Pohlman was secretary. L. W. Haberkamp was treasurer. Now, that’s Ed’s brother. Somebody said it was his father, but that’s his brother. A. E. Busse was engineer –Emma’s husband. He was elected the first engineer. Charles Sieloff was captain. See, they already had ideas. They were electing their boys for respected positions. They didn’t have anything to work with, but they were getting organized and I give them a lot of credit for that. Herman Mein was another mayor here. He was a fire chief, too, at one time. He was first nozzleman, the first nozzleman. Ernest Busse was a member, Albert Wille was a member. Conrad Englekink, Henry J. Hart –now, that’s another brother of Bertha. Christ Wille –another Wille boy; Albert and Christ were both in there –and William Busse, Jr. Now, that’s the list I took out of the original minutes book, which I had and it’s still at the fire station. There was the organization of the fire department when they started out. The first meeting after that –that was November 8, and on November 21 — now, they were getting busy, right away, bing, bing, bing. They were going to get organized. Well, here they are. They Improvement Association was asked to buy six lanterns for them. There’s something about that lantern business –that’s coming in later. I’ll tell you that after a while. In 1914 –see, we’re in 1914 now, January 7 –a committee of three was appointed to investigate an engine; some kind of an engine that was for sale at Glenview. I don’t know what it was. I don’t remember because I wasn’t in at that time and there is no report in the minutes of what happened to that. But they did in 1914 –the exact date I don’t know, but they did purchase the old hand pumper. You’ve seen it. You’ve seen pictures of it –it’s in the fire station today –with the side pump on it and one thing and another. They bought that from Niles Center, which is now Skokie, for sixty bucks. Think of it! It was a good buy in those days. They were progressing right along. They got a fire engine, and now they need a bell to notify the members that there is a fire. They purchased a bell, and here is where it comes in, from Arlington Heights. Paul Holstein was authorized to buy the bell from Arlington Heights for the sum of eight dollars so evidently there was a little finagling going on there. So they bought the old first fire bell for eight bucks. They were going along pretty good, and in January of 1915 here they come along and they bought two axes, two , a ladder, and so forth, and they started building it up. It was building up very nicely. Well, then, of course, like every ambition is, a boy either wants to be a policeman, a fireman, or something like that. I got into that. So then I became old enough so I was able to do it, so I turned in my application and, by golly, they took me on. So in 1915 on February 4 I became a member, and I was a member on that until I retired in 1956, January 31, which is quite a while. All right, now they were getting organized again –and I remember this, now. I’m-starting to get organized in it, and I like it –I still love it –and that was my ambition to protect life and property, and I still enjoy it. It gets in your blood. You just can’t shake it, that’s all. It’s part of you. You live with it. You sleep with it. If it wouldn’t be for my wife here to make [it to] a good many fires. How many times she didn’t hold my pants out so I could jump in it, believe me. I had to go. When that whistle goes you go, and there is no reason why you shouldn’t because you should. If you want to be a good citizen, that’s your duty. All right. Christ Wille. Good old Christ. He was appointed to install the bell. Now, look at that. That bell must have been lying around and they didn’t know where to put it. They got permission to put it in the first village hall which was Wille’s hall. Do you remember? Where Wille’s are now they had a building there and they had a tower, and they put that bell up in there. So every time there was fire somebody had to go over to Wille’s hall and start ringing that bell. Of course, if the wind was blowing pretty hard it was pretty hard to hear that bell with all the windows closed. But anyhow, it worked out. Now, for quite a while there, like all minutes in all organizations, you get a lull. There isn’t too much activity. You kind of go along, just kind of dormant-like. Well, we were dormant for a certain while until all of a sudden we started getting some fires. Every time they have a fire it peps you up. It really does. It gets you. You get stagnant if there is no activity, no fires, no business, see. That was our business to fight fires. Well, anyhow, that happens once in a while, and in this case here started to get prairie fires, and one thing and another. This was in 1918. At that time I wasn’t out here all the time. I had a little job in the city. I worked for a bank downtown, the Continental Commercial Bank, for about seven years. I was in there and I wasn’t much good out here, but I did help out nights when they did have something. Well, I came out one Saturday afternoon, I think it was an early train about three o’clock or something, and 10 and behold, driving down, coming into town, I happened tolook out there and here was a straw stack on fire –Herman Earlyking’s. That’s at the 800 block of East Prospect, in that neck of the woods. That’s where Herman Earlyking’s farm was. It was pretty close to the barn. I got out, and, of course, you tear right over there and you try to help. Here they were over there with that little hand pump. Fellows were running with pails, pulling that thing, and we had a little ten-gallon priming tank, is what I’d call it. It was just enough to prime the thing and get it going, and then you were supposed to drop it in a cistern. That was another thing that I’ve got to go into a little later, too. Well, anyhow, that was our first fire. That pepped us up again, when you did something like that, so then you start getting some more committees together and you go out and you want to buy something better. You’ve got to improve this. This is too much money business. You stand there and you don’t get to first base with the thing. You pump, and everybody’s got to run with pails and fill the thing up. You know how it is. There is just a little bit of water. It’s an awful feeling when you just run out of water and you want to put something out and you get it about half out and then your water is kaput and then you’re done and you feel like a heel. You don’t want to be around then. Well, anyhow, we made it all right anyway. So then we come along to after Herman Earlyking’s –and he was very satisfied because we saved his barn. The barn didn’t burn. We were able to cut it off enough to keep that up and stay around and knock that out for him. I want to tell you another thing, now. With this little side pumper that we had, if you notice there used to be a rope on it. I don’t know whether they have it on there or not. They told me they were going to put it on but they never did. I think it’s in the way. When you pull it — when the call was for the fire of the thing, you had to pull it by hand, naturally. We had no gasoline trucks or buggies to pull it then. It was just horse-and-wagon days. So most of the time in a small village like ours you’d pull it out. Well, Herman was a little far down there, so I got to a point where I said, “By golly, if that happens again we’re in trouble.” Did you ever try to run all you can and pull on the thing in back of you? It’s a small wagon, say, for instance, a mile. Doggone it, you’re tuckered out. By the time you get there you ain’t got no ambition to fight a fire.” All right. So then in November then they go going to get . people out to get subscriptions and see if we couldn’t buy something better. Well, we got a committee appointed and one thing and another, and they got busy. The committee worked, the committee on subscriptions, and we told them what we wanted. Well, we bought a Buick chassis from the Busse Motor Sales –William Busse & Son at that time. We bought a 1915 Buick chassis, a truck. On that we mounted two forty-gallon soda acid chemical tanks with 200 feet of one-inch chemical hose and a two-inch section hose –a hard section hose. No, that two-inch section hose was on that little hand pumper. But we had pails. That’s right, we had pails on that. There is where you would have soda acid. Are you familiar with that, where you put soda in one and then an acid, and when you dump the acid bottle in it mixes with the soda water and it builds up pressure? When it does that it builds up, oh, quite a bit of pressure, and you’d better have that nozzle when that happens or you won’t have a tank left neither. I found that out, because it gets pretty dangerous. You can get about 200 pounds of pressure there in no time. Well, anyhow, we fought with that in several places. The Rev. Miller’s fire one time, his parsonage over there at St. Paul’s got going, and we got in there. You do more damage I with soda acid than you do with putting the fire out, believe it or not. We put the fire out but by the time we got through all the upholstery and carpets were ruined because that sulfuric acid really eats everything to pieces. Now, if anybody had any doings with soda acid you know what I’m talking about. It’s a good extinguisher but it does a lot of damage, too, believe me. It’s effective because you create your own pressure and you put out the fire and that’s it. But as I say, you do as much damage with acid as the fire does sometimes. So we kind of got away from that, too. We went along pretty nice –excuse me for referring to notes, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself neither. Oh, yes, then we got into ’19 or so, there we had another lull there. There wasn’t too much from 1918 till 1920. Then electricity came into the picture, too, there a little bit. In 1921 we purchased our first electric siren. That was another thing we needed. We had a lot of trouble with notifying the boys there was a fire. About two or three would make it and there wasn’t enough help, and we got into trouble in that respect so we had to turn around and get some other equipment. So we bought an electric siren, and we had this siren mounted in back of the old bank building. Do you remember the old bank building that stood on Main and Busse, that little bitty building? And on the telephone pole right next to the sidewalk we had this siren mounted, with a switch high enough so the kids couldn’t get at it. It took a good-sized man to reach up there, about seven or eight feet up. Still the kids would try to climb up there and hit it. Well, anyhow we got along all right, and that went along for some time. And then we had signals. Three blasts was a~, and that was all right. One long and one short was the west side, I think it was, where the big tower was. Was that west side, east side? We didn’t have it on the north side or south side, that was I the only thing. It was just east and west. One long and one short was the west side. Now, that meant from Main Street, of course. One long and two short was east of main street, and one long was out of town. There you are. Those were our signals. Believe it or not, we were progressing right along. We had to do the best we could. So we went along, and we had forest preserve fires and everything under the sun. We went along all the way up till 1922, and that’s when one of our mayors, Herman Mein, was elected chief, in 1922. The 1921 fires –I’ll go back one more year there, I see in the note here –the Burke property, Rev. Miller’s parsonage, which I mentioned. That was in 1921. Northwestern Light & Power, oh, that’s a good one. That was on September 21, 1921. Up to that time Mt. Prospect –maybe you don’t want to hear about that, do you? MODERATOR: Sure!
BIERMANN: On September 21, 1921, we had a fire at the Northwestern Light & Power Company. Now, that was located right where the present water tower is, right there. It was owned by the Improvement Association, more or less. The members of the Improvement Association had stock in that. Everybody had a chance to buy a share of stock in that. It was a stock company. So, we had our own electric light plant in this town up to that time. Lo and behold, we had that fire and that was kaput. They absolutely burn out. Well, then the public service company at that time came in and they negotiated and took the franchise, and, by golly, we had electricity then that stayed with us quite a bit, and we’ve got it yet. So that’s when the public service company which is now Commonwealth Edison came into the picture after that time. So we had that to contend with, too. We couldn’t stop that because that was done by the time we got there. Oh, we had a lot of fires. We had a Chicago & Northwestern caboose fire, and they reimbursed us twenty-five dollars for that, too, believe me. That was in 1922. We had another occasion, too, with the Northwestern one time. An engine was working down here and [it] ran out of water. They stopped in town here and, by golly, they were stuck. They didn’t have any water. They either had to pull the [engine] or do something, so they came running over and they wanted the fire department to get any water. Well, fortunately, we had our water works in then, so right at Kruse’s corner there, the engine was there, and we got over to the fire department and filled up that engine with water so they could proceed on. So in an emergency we were there, too, once in a while, even in those days. We were some good. Now we get along in 1922, and, oh, boy, here is where the village started appropriating money for us. That was something. Seven hundred bucks we got appropriated,. How do you like that deal? Isn’t that something? We’re going along now. And then they got rich and we started having banquets and one thing or another, drills. Then we purchased another siren, a good one, which we put on the water tower. That was $308.75. We spent money then, believe me. That was a lot of dough in those days. That siren lasted for a good many years; in fact, the siren yet is over on the water works over here on Pine Street right now, that same old siren. I think they use that just for CD purposes now –Civilian Defense. I’m pretty sure. So we were starting to get paid for making fires now. I don’t remember just what the beginning was. I think it was two or three dollars a run or something like that. I think the chief got three, the captains and lieutenants got two, and the men got one dollar or something like that. I don’t know. It was something along that line. Anyhow, we had a payroll in 1928 of $124.50. That’s what it cost the village for our fire department for personnel. That was all right, wasn’t it? We went along fine. Now, in 1928 that’s where we got a little bit perturbed with the old soda acid stuff, and one thing or another, and we wanted to get something better. So the fire department went to the village board and the village board agreed to have a meeting. We called a special meeting for the citizens for the idea of discussing the idea of a new piece of fire apparatus. That was fine, so we got out and got signatures for a referendum and, by golly, the bond issue went through and we were lucky. We were very happy about that because we immediately got busy then and started negotiating for bids on trucks. Of course, we bid on the American of France at that time. That’s the old 9usse-wa~. We used to call it “Betsy.” But the American of France was the first one we had, and it was between American of France and Peter Pirsch. We had our ifs and ands, and even in the fire department we were split a little bit there because one wanted this and one wanted that. Finally, when the recommendation went into the village board Pirsch went in and was favored. I think yours truly had an awful lot of gumption. and I fought for that American of France like tooth, nail, and everything I could because I could see that that was the best deal all the way through — my opinion was. In fact, I was appointed engineer to investigate it, and on the committee and everything else, so I just got in and I worked hard and I sold the village board on it. The village board listened to me and they bought American of France. Boy, was I in the dog house. They were going to throw me out, and everything under the sun. Well, anyhow, I made it and we got it patched up. As I say, anything I did was for the good of the department, and I won’t take credit for nothing myself. The department, too. I had some boys that after a while realized this and said, “Well, I think you’re all right. You made it all right.” I’m thankful for it because I’m very happy it happened the way it did because we still have American of France equipment, and I’m very much sold on it today. As far as I’m concerned, it’s good stuff. It’s good equipment. So then we started having carnivals. We needed hose, and what have you. We helped buy this, too. At that time we were running dances and stuff. So we ran a carnival. At our first carnival our receipts were $615.00. Boy, that was dough. We bought a lot of hose. In those days we could buy, I think, a foot of two-and-a-half inch, double-jacketed hose, which was the best –double-jacketed could stand a lot of pressure –for, I think, a dollar a foot. We could buy it for a dollar a foot then. I don’t know what it is today. I bet it’s six or seven bucks, if not more. We got that, and Will Haberkamp’s greenhouse had a fire, too. That was December 29, and we worked hard on that. Arlington Heights came down and helped us. They did~. Wheeling came down and helped us, and poor Wheeling got froze up. Their truck froze up solid as the dickens. The couldn’t even pump. Anyhow, they were real nice. Then around 1931 we disposed of our chemical truck. Am I taking too long?
MODERATOR: Keep going.
BIERMANN: If I do I’ll cut it short.
BIERMANN: I wasn’t in that long, Doc.
MODERATOR: We have the other side of the tape to go. You haven’t finished one side.
BIERMANN: All right. Now, in 1931 our carnival receipts went up a little bit. We had $704.00 bucks. See, we’re
getting a little bigger. A little more. People are starting to come out and really spend money with us. Oh, yes, here’s good one. In September –you know, we usually have an annual banquet, the firemen. We got so that we had a little money, we were working hard, and we put together and we used to have banquets. We’d get a pretty good meal for a buck and a quarter apiece in those days and get a nice turkey or duck dinner, or something like that. We used to have it, and at this particular time we went to Neumeier’s place. Now, Neumeier is where –what’s the name of that place across from. ..?
MODERATOR: El Rando.
BIERMANN: No, the little one. Is that El Rando?
BIERMANN: EI Rando, okay. We were at EI Rando, but that was 1933, November the twenty-third. I’ve got the date and everything here. We got a call over there, “A fire in town!” You know what happened, everybody out. The poor women sat there, those men were all gone and they had all the duck. We busted down there, and here it was a fire at Wolf’s residence. That’s the corner of Lincoln and Ioca, I think it was, if I remember. Lincoln and Ioca, the Wolf residence. A bad fire. It started in the basement and ran up the front steps and the upstairs, and it was going like the dickens. Nobody was home. The neighbors saw it and called, so we got over there and got in there. Well, the first thing we did, which we were supposed to do, which my command always was, is to be sure and have your line charged all up –your water; your line filled with water –before you start opening up a building, because the minute you open a building with a fire and it gets oxygen, away it goes. Now, you need three things for fires: You need fuel, heat and oxygen. Take one of them away and you haven’t got a fire. You’ve got to have every one of the three. So, always have your hose ready the minute you open a house. All right. Doug Budlong, you know. ..
BIERMANN: …and then we split our department into two companies. What are you going to do, run this thing forever? We split our department in two companies because we had two motors –two apparatuses, so we had two companies. We had so many men on this and on that. I think it was ten or fifteen on each one, or something like that, because I had about thirty members when I was one. Well, that’s so much of the early fire league. I’m holding too long. It’s after nine here. In 1937 now we start getting out in the country and we start having a lot of trouble –you know, boys getting hurt and cut –so we more or less drafted a doctor into the organization. We got Dr. Wolfarth to come and become a member, and he was very loyal to us and helped us an awful lot. He gave us a lot of first aid setup. We bought an inhalator and went out and did some inhalator work. It went along real good. He’s done an awful lot. We have an awful lot of inhalator work, too, when people got heart attacks and asthma attacks. And too much liquor once in a while, they would call up and get sick, you know, and then the mother wouldn’t know what was wrong with the young guy I and they found out that he was liquored up a little bit too much. We had that to contend with, too, not only –the ladies once in a while. We had a lady once –I probably shouldn’t mention this; this is kind of rude –but out here on Higgins Road we got a call one time, an inhalator call down there. Somebody was desperately sick. We didn’t know what it was, so all right, the inhalator went out there with the emergency unit, and Doc Wolfarth went along, you know. He didn’t make the truck. He was right in back of us with his car. We got out there, and there was a woman in a bathtub and she wouldn’t get out. She wanted to commit suicide and drown. She had had too much liquor. She just got fed up with somebody, I suppose, and she got out of her mind. So we had her to contend with. We had to get her in a blanket and get her into bed and take care of her. Can you imagine trying to lift a woman, nude, out of a bathtub? So we had all kinds of things to contend with, believe me. Talk about being a doctor, they can have it. I’ll go along being a fireman, and that’s it. I just rang that in. Maybe you’d enjoy it and maybe you wouldn’t. We run into funny things. I’m not kidding you. On the south side here –I happened to think of that just now, too. Now, Esmond (2.50) at that time was lieutenant, and we had two brothers who had gotten in a , scrap. They were home, visiting with their mother, and I ! don’t know what happened. Two brothers got in there and they started scrapping, and they started slugging one another and the mother fainted. She went out like a light, and we were called. We got over there, and Doc was in the back. I think Doc Ba~nola was with us that time. By the way, we had two doctors, too. Bagnola came in for a while, too, and I think Doc Ba~nola was with us that time. We went into this place, and the mother was in there and we started giving her oxygen and some tried to revive her. She was fighting it off like the dickens, and Doc has his stethoscope on her and was checking her allover. He started shaking his head all the time, and I was thinking, Whatls the matter here? He said, “I don’t know, there is something funny here.” It turned out then we found out. It disturbed her so that her two boys were fighting, it just worked her up to a point where she just went out. I guess itls possible to do that. So then we found out what it was, so then the two boys –one was outside and the other one came in, and we asked them, “Whatls the idea of disturbing your mother like that, to put her into a trance like this?” He said, “Well, weill do it again.” I said, IIOh, you will, will you?” I said, “Esmond, take care , of these two boys. II You know how Esmond is a great big fellow yet. He got over there, and he said, “You fellows, if I catch you once more doing a thing like this, youlre both going in the hoosegow. Believe me or not, Illl take care of you both.” So I guess he got that one straightened out. But that shows you what happens. What we donlt get called for once in a while when youlre on the fire department! Everything under the sun. Emergencies. A cat in the tree? Oh, God. Welve had those, too. When they get hungry they come down, donlt worry. Oh, yes. In 1945 the department had to become a corporation. We started getting in the real estate business. We were looking for a better site. We were in that little pump house, one thing or another. We had to get something going here that was more modern, and we needed room. We had two trucks, and we didn’t know what to do with them. So, we had some property we had bought on Main Street where the theater is now. We owned a couple of lots in there. Do you remember that, George? I’ve got a real estate man here. We’ve got to keep me straight here, see. I’ve got to be careful what I say here. I’ll get in Dutch. We bought that property, and after viewing it and figuring it out, one, two or three, or it wasn’t the right spot anyhow. We didn’t know. So my father-in-law, I discussed it with him a little bit and he said, “Oh, boy. Don’t put it there. It’s right on Main Street. It’s too crowded,” and what have you. He said, “I’ve got some property over here. I’ll figure out what I want for it and I’ll give you fellows a good proposition on it.” And he did, and that’s the present site, where the village hall is today. The fire department bought that property and donated it to the village, and it cost us fifteen thousand bucks, believe it or not. In that day it was a lot of money, too, but it was a good buy if you figure it out. Even at that time he practically gave us a good buy on it, wouldn’t you think so, George? And you know, I have something here that I treasure.
GEORGE: I would have paid him more money than that for it.
BIERMANN: I know you would have. A contract for real estate. I have it in my possession yet. Now, I happened to be appointed one of the trustees, and Herman Mein was the other one, that handled the real estate, and one thing or another, of the Mt. Prospect Volunteer Fire Department, and I have the original sales contract on that particular property, and there is a clause in there I am going to read to you. It refers to lots 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 in block 12 of Busse-Wille’s subdivision, section 12, town 41, range east …and so on going. Fifteen thousand bucks. “It is expressly agreed and understood that the deed conveying the above-described property will contain a clause restricting the use of the property to the erection of a municipal building or buildings by the Village of Mt. Prospect,” but it can’t be used for nothing else. Don’t you think that’s a good idea? After we gave it to them that’s what we wanted it for, and they did it. All right. It was real nice of them. We got going –let’s see, who was mayor then? That was Penn. Penn was mayor. By golly, thank you. You helped me out there again, too. See, isn’t it nice to have fellows here that can prop you up a little bit, see, and hold you? Then we start planning a new fire station, and then by that time the village got interested. Fine, they’re going to build a building. We were going to go ahead and build our own building. We’d have done it, too –believe me, we would. We were ready to go. So they came along and they got interested. They got her interested to the point that they turned around and had a referendum on it, and they floated a bond issue on it for $145,000. Does that sound right?
GEORGE: That’s right.
BIERMANN: All right. They completed the building January 11, 1949, and had the first meeting in there. We were the happiest guys on earth. We had a new fire station, a new city hall, and we had that occasion. Boy, I’ll tell you, our chests were out farther than it ever was in all our lives. Then the 1960s came along and we put an addition into it, and that cost $195,000. So then things went along, went along and went along, and in 1965 they got the new fire station. Now I’m going to head out and quit because I think you’ve heard enough. From now on it got more or less modern. Oh, goodness gracious, it’s nine-thirty, folks, and I need a rink of water or something here. I’m getting dry.
MODERATOR: Tell us about the lanterns.
BIERMANN: Oh, the lanterns? All right. Well, anyhow, this was before we bought our first piece of equipment. Is that what you mean?
ERMANN: The bylaws and rules and regulations went something like this: The chief was supposed to route the way I to the fire. Now, he’s supposed to know everything. I don’t I know how he does, but he’s supposed to. That’s according to them, yes. Carry the lantern and run –oh, thank you very, very much. I hope I don’t make the rest of you dry. Oh, that was good. We put out fires with that, too, you know. Well, anyhow, run ahead, and the fellow is supposed to come along in back of it with the equipment then, and the first man is supposed to be the nozzle end there, and the other ones start pumping, then they had ten gallons in the restaurant for the cistern. You see, where the closest cistern –oh, yes. Years ago everybody had a cistern, either one in the ground outside or one inside the house. I remember ours. We had an old galvanized one in our house at 117 South Maple where we moved to. You went in from the town and we used to live at that house that used to stand right where the parking lot of the post office is now, right across from the city hall. And, by the way, I don’t think there were any houses east of us then, George, except the creamery was over there then.
GEORGE: No, Fredricks on the corner.
BIERMANN: Oh, yes, north, but I mean east.
GEORGE: No, that came a little later.
BIERMANN: That came later, is right. No, Scharinghausen was there on the corner. Scharinghausen was on the corner of Evergreen, and that was there. Herman, he was cheesemaker there, remember?
GEORGE: Was he there then?
BIERMANN: Yes, he was there. That was on the corner. I remember that very distinctly. Herman Scharinghausen was on the corner. What was I talking about?
MODERATOR: The lanterns.
BIERMANN: Oh, the lanterns. Okay. A cistern. You had to have a cistern to pump water. You can look at it sometime when you’re at the station. It had a little priming tank in there, about ten gallons you’d pour in there with pails. You always had pails setting on there, too, years ago, and you’d run and get [water] so you’d get the thing primed, and then you’d throw the two-and-a-half inch line down into the cistern and then you’d pump. How long will a cistern last on a big fire? Well, anyhow, we had, I think, an inch-and-a-half discharge on there with a small tip on it, which was fair. So that was it, that’s about the nozzle end of it. Friends, it’s been a pleasure tonight to talk to you, and it’s been my ambition all my life to help build up this village. I always say this: Fire prevention, we worked on that very hard. I even had a little sign put on that old pumper that I was talking about, “If we do our part, fires won’t start.” There is a lot of truth in that, and I mean it. If you just watch out, because it’s negligence and if people are too complacent about things they happen. I’m going to close with that, and I’m going to thank you. You’ve been a nice audience. I hope I did something tonight. I don’t know. I tried to help.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Mr. Biermann.
BIERMANN: You’re very welcome.
MODERATOR: Thank you, too, Mr. Biermann. Will there be any more business to come before the meeting? If not, then we stand adjourned.