I am sure that we can all agree that these are strange and difficult times. I have been around for over eighty years, and I cannot remember a year of my life with more trying situations. I have found that reflecting on the past and some of the most fun times and the most epic people I have encountered make the day more meaningful.
In doing this exercise, most of the individuals that come to mind are fire service folks, and their memories make me smile. One of the most interesting couples I have met in the past was from my home county of St. Charles, actually Wentzville. To see Jack and Kay Asher at an FFAM convention was a true Mutt and Jeff experience. Seeing them walk into a room, hand-in-hand would make you smile. For decades, they kept records of almost any activity the FFAM did. Even after Jack passed in 2010, Kay continued the quest for information and kept the historian’s role alive until her death. I think that is true dedication to a cause.
One of my many articles that appeared in this newsletter reflected some of that dedication. In the May and June 2012 issue, I wrote an article about the origin of the FFAM, and Jack contributed to it. The following are some excerpts from that same article, with some of Jack’s style of writing included.
From the 1920s and even before there were several regional fire associations formed, but never a statewide voice of the fire service.
I can remember the meetings my Dad talked about. They were held in O’Fallon during the formation of the St. Charles County Fire Protection Association. He was the Fire Chief of the O’Fallon Volunteer Fire Department at the time, and folks from Wentzville, St. Peters, and St. Charles attended the first organizational meeting at the old City Hall and fire station. I recall a photo, which I could not find for this article, of all these guys standing in front of O’Fallon’s, 1941 GMC Central Pumper, and they all seemed to be toasting with glasses held high. Some sort of drink, likely an adult beverage.
It was all of these organizations, and it would be difficult to name them all from across the state, that came together in Jefferson City in 1954 to form the State Association. Names of people do, however, pop out of my head, like Alden Cambell of Gashland, Joe Jackson of Carrolton, “Buster” Baumann of Washington, John Welch of Harrisonville, and of course G.V. “Spud” Allers of Desloge, the first president of the FFAM.
But who could tell the story better than the best FFAM historian of all, Delmon C. “Jack” Asher? His article pictured is from the 1974 convention booklet.
While Kay worked more in the background to keep the history, she would still remind everyone at the meetings to “not throw anything away, because that might be history!” In the past few years, while she was still at home, she tirelessly went through everything, organizing and packing, for its trip to Kingdom City for storage.
Kay was a huge supporter of the Fire Fighters Historical Preservation Foundation of Missouri. Which is the museum that is currently in progress of being built. She was excited to know that there would finally be a place, besides her house, that would house all the objects that she and Jack collected for these many years.
Jack and Kay are now keeping track of their beloved organization from a much better vantage point than most of us. Remember his closing statement, “Let us not stand by, let us move ahead.” They would want us to continue to do just that.