187 combined years of volunteer service Featured

  • Written by  Kathy (Luebcke) Radabaugh

These three exceptional men have 187 combined years of volunteer service to the Lakeside Volunteer Fire Department and are fine examples of commitment, selflessness, courage, and responsibility.  Any child or adult today would be fascinated by their stories and knowledge.

Mr. Dave Glick, age 85, has been the longest active member of the three, joining the department in 1943. . . 70 years!!!  He was born is Ashville, OH in 1928 and first came to Lakeside in 1929.  The Glicks have owned their current home at 429 Oak since 1941.  He recalls how he became a member of the department at age 14 in 1943 . . . 

“I was working as a messenger in the Administration Bldg when lightning struck a cottage at Cherry & 4th Streets.  The fire department was already on the scene when Ken Miller, the Association Asst Mgr., asked me to go to the fire to see if additional help was needed.  I peddled my bike to the scene where Chief John Carroll reported the fire had just been extinguished.  I reported this message back to Mr. Miller.  Soon after, I noticed on a bulletin board in the Ad Bldg:  ‘When the fire siren sounds, all male employees who can leave their jobs are to report to the seat of the fire and assist the firemen.’  So from then on, when the siren blew, I went to the station and got on the 1939 ‘Little Ford’ and helped as needed.  Since this was during WWII and many firefighters were in the service, all help was appreciated.  There were no uniforms, badges or even turnout gear in those days.  I also began attending monthly meetings and infrequent training sessions which included taking the 1917 American LaFrance Pumper down to the dock to practice drafting.”

Mr. Glick served 2 years in the US Army.  He is a popular historian for the area.  He earned his BS from Capitol University and attended Graduate School at The Ohio State Univ.  He worked 31 years at the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village and retired as VP for education.  He first received his Lakeside Volunteer Fire Dept badge when the late “Bud” Luebcke was chief and remained active until his final call on 6/30/13.

Mr. Don Caldwell, age 81, joined the department in 1947 at age 16 and provided devoted service for 67 years!!  He was born in Toledo in 1931 and his family moved permanently to Lakeside in 1943.  His parents owned Caldwell’s News Stand in Lakeside.  Mr. Caldwell graduated from the University of Toledo in the College of Pharmacy in 1953.  In 1954 he was the pharmacist at Green’s Drug Store in Port Clinton and then Perry Pharmacy and later Magruder Hospital.  He stated that to be on the department in those early years, one needed to be within hearing distance of the siren which was located on the roof top of Carroll’s Market (currently housing  Sloopy’s Pizza, Ooh La La and Joseph Wise Clocks).  Mr. Caldwell was a neighbor to the late John Carroll who was the chief at the time.  When a call came through to the chief, Don would hear it on the party line and immediately run out the door to join the chief in his car.  Mr. Carroll would let Don out at Carroll’s Market on the way to the station so Don could sound the alarm for the other firemen.  Mr. Caldwell recalls the alarm was in a red box on a pillar which was located between the current Sloopy’s Pizza and Ooh La La.  If the fire was outside of Lakeside, he would sound the siren as one long blast and if the fire was within Lakeside, he would signal with several long blasts.    He would then sprint the remaining block to the Lakeside Fire Station (currently the Lakeside Laundry) and write the location of the fire on the chalkboard for the rest of the firemen that would be arriving.  Usually the first to arrive would start the “Little Ford” fire truck.

Both Mr. Glick and Mr. Caldwell recalled one of the most memorable fires as being in September of 1949 when the Fruit Packing Plant of the Danbury Growers Assn caught fire at Danbury Junction, beside the New York Central’s mainline tracks just before they cross Sandusky Bay.  It was a large structure used to process peaches and other local fruit which was then loaded and shipped on the railroad.  The fire was most challenging because the refrigerated area had double walls containing insulation of powdered cork.  It also stored sulfur dioxide for the spraying of the fruit.  This fire began in the evening and burned all through the night and then off and on during the following week due to the cork powder insulation and the sulfur dioxide.  Unfortunately, there were no gas masks at the time and the noxious fumes created a horrible odor and breathing hazard.  There were two sets of train tracks running next to this facility and trains had to be stopped during this period.  Departments from Sandusky, Port Clinton, Marblehead and Lakeside were all called in for this fire and they pumped water from the bay.  It was reported that a hose was left on the tracks and was severed by a passing train.

Mr. Clayton Werden,  Jr, age 88, joined the department in 1962.  He recently received his pin honoring him for his 50 years of volunteer service!  Mr. Werden purchased his Lakeside home on 3rd and Central Ave in 1960.  He was born in New Rochelle, NY in 1925 but spent most of his years in Cincinnati and Lakeside.  During WWII he was a trainer in the U.S. for B-17 crews.  He worked for RCA at a time when televisions were just entering the stage.  His entrepreneurial spirit led him to open his own business, Werden Electric, in Cincinnati in 1948.  His son, Clayton Werden III, relayed the story of how his father joined the department. . .

“Shortly after the purchase of their Lakeside home, my dad brought his crew of 15-20 employees to help him make repairs and improvements on his new home.  As darkness settled in, being an electrician, he hooked up several large lights outside to shine on the house so his workers could continue working.  Apparently, he had produced so much light outside the house that the Lakeside firemen came over assuming so much light had to be from a fire.  After visiting with the firemen, Mr. Werden decided he’d like to be on the department also.”

 Werden Electric wired the Lakeside sirens, the Lakeside Methodist Church and the new fire station on Maple Ave and St Rt 163.  Mr. Werden has always been a high-spirited and energetic man.  In his younger years, when a fire call came through, he would dart out the screen door, hurdle their porch railing and dash down the block to hitch a ride to the fire station with “Bud” Luebcke who was chief during this time. However, on one occasion, his mother-in-law accidentally locked the screen door.  And when a call came through, Mr Werden did his usual herculean fast action through the screen door only this time, he tore the door off the hinges as he tried to exit the locked door  and the door remained attached to him as he leapt off his porch and to the street below.  Once untangled from the screen, he continued his race down Central Ave yelling “choice” words the whole way.

These three remarkable men deserve a fire truck full of gratitude for all their service. At times they sacrificed their own families, their health, and their comfort at night to get to the call as swiftly as possible. They are fine examples to the younger generation and a comfort to sit with and just listen as they share their experiences of earlier days around the Marblehead Peninsula.  If you see them on their porches or about town, be sure to thank them for their 187 magnanimous years of combined volunteer service.  And being a young daughter of a fire chief during the 60’s and 70’s , I will sign off as my father, “Bud” Luebcke, always did on his plectron each and every day during his evening test that broadcast to all the firemen. His voice will always remain in my childhood memories as he ended the evening test with  K Q H 2 3 2. . . . 1800 hours!

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