By Kaylee Lindenmuth
MAHANOY CITY - It began as an idea discussed in a residence on July 8th 1893, when a group of German men proposed the creation of a volunteer fire company.
Today, 125 years later, the Good American Hose Company continues to serve Mahanoy City and surrounding communities, and this year, the company will commemorate its 125th anniversary, or quasquicentennial.
Establishing a fire company
First named and chartered as the German American Hose Company in September 1893, the concept of the Good American fire company dates back to a July 1893 meeting where a group of men met "to establish a dues paying volunteer fire company which would be beneficial in paying sick and death benefits," according to the fire company's centennial booklet.
At that meeting, a temporary election took place, seeing Fred Klitsch elected president, John Bush as vice president, Ewald Klein as recording secretary, among others.
An official election would take place a month later, on August 15, 1893, where Fred Miller became president, John Bush vice president, and Klein remained recording secretary.
The company then petitioned for a charter, which was received on September 12, 1893, officially establishing the German American Hose Company #3 of Mahanoy City.
The company began holding regular meetings twice a month in 1912.
Early years and a name change
In 1919, the company took on its current name, the Good American Hose Company.
"World War I started, and Germany was not well liked... and the people of Mahanoy City decided that they didn't want a German fire company," said Tom Puidokas, fire company member.
In September 1920, the fire company purchase a horse team for their steamer apparatus, and in March 1923, a special meeting occurred, where the company decided to erect a new firehouse, increase membership, and acquire motorized fire apparatus. Three years later, in May 1926, the company expanded from 80 dues-paying members to 100, and two months later to 125.
The current social hall for the fire company would be constructed in 1925 at Mahanoy and Eighth Streets as their firehouse.
Motorized apparatus and the WWII years
The first motorized piece of apparatus for the "dutchies" came in 1927, a Hahn pumper, and, in 1937, a money pool began to fund another Hahn pumper, which was placed into service in 1939. The truck served the borough until 1972.
Beginning in 1936, the fire company operated a thriving coal and ice business, until 1952 for ice, and 1958 for coal.
Boy Scout Troop 53 was sponsored by the fire company beginning in 1943, and the partnership aided U.S. efforts in World War II as scouts and company members collected over 21,000 pounds of paper.
During the war, members served as air raid block wardens for Mahanoy City's east side, while 30 members served in the war.
Post war years to the 1990s
The fire company established a picnic ground in the Locust Valley in 1949. In the early 1950s, the company purchased a water fountain at the Sixth Street Playground as a memorial to member and WWII casualty John Shovlin,
In 1955, the fire company became the fire company signed on as a charter member of the Schuylkill County Firefighters' Association, supporting the fire training school first at Lakewood and then at Morea.
The annual bazaar and block party began in 1961, continuing to this day.
The fire company assisted the borough in its 1963 Centennial celebration, as well as the borough's celebration of the 1976 United States Bicentennial.
Beginning in 1970, the fire company sponsored Fourth of July fireworks in the borough.
The Good American Hose Co. Auxillary began in 1972 with the purpose of assisting in fundraising. That year, the company purchased a Hahn pumper with its own funds, and in 1978, with borough council, purchased another Hahn pumper.
The company instated its first female member in 1987, when Kathleen Bowman was voted in. Also in 1987, on September 8, the company housed a KME tanker, purchased with company funds.
Three years later, the company began a scholarship fund for Mahanoy Area graduates.
1990s to today
The fire company celebrated its centennial in 1993, in conjunction with the Schuylkill County Firefighter's Convention.
In 1996, a new building was constructed at the south east side of East Mahanoy and South Eighth Street, across Eighth from the former firehouse.
"The original building, where we housed the building, the floor gave away, not real bad," said company president and chief Tony Aschman. "The front tire (of a piece of apparatus) went though the floor, so we decided we had a need to put another building up, so we bought the property across the street, and constructed a building to house our two apparatus at the time."
The previous firehouse was converted into a social hall, where the company hosts various fundraisers.
In August 2016, the fire company housed its current Tanker 461, a 2016 Rosenbauer tanker/pumper.
"We got $400-some thousand from the federal government. We took a loan out to pay for the rest of it," said Aschman. "We're in the process of doing multiple fundraisers throughout the year to pay off that loan."
As membership declines, the company sold its other two pieces of apparatus.
"Due to the demise of the volunteer organizations and manpower, we went down to one piece of apparatus," said Aschman. "Membership as dwindled like everywhere else in the state, but we still keep afloat... we're always looking for younger people to be involved, like everybody else is in the area."
Celebrating the quasquicentennial
On May 27, the fire company will host a food truck festival and craft show at the firehouse grounds from noon to 6:00pm.
During the first day of the fire company's annual block party, Friday, June 22, the United States Postal Service will be on hand with a special commemorative cancellation stamp.
"We're having a stamp cancellation, which is going to coincide with our block party and fire truck parade," said Aschman. "We've contacted the post office, and they're making a special cancellation stamp up. The post office will be here to do that for us, and then when that night is done, then the cancellation stamp will be destroyed, so it's a one time, one of a kind thing to get done as a collector's item."
Other events are still in the planning stages.
The culmination of the quasquicentennial celebration will be the annual fire company banquet, according to Aschman.