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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Empty Nester/Retirement (from work) (09/10/09)

TITLE: John J. Harvey
By Ruth Neilson
09/16/09


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Forced retirement?

Put out to the pasture?

Scrap metal?

Ppphhht...I'm still able to work just as hard as any of those new-fangled boats. Okay, so what if I'm not as fast as the others? Or my pumps are a little rusty? I can still do what every other fire boat can do.

Oh, hush, youngens. Y'all don't know anything.

The New York Fire Department tried to retire me. They tried to sell me to make scrap metal. Probably to be turned into some soda pop can.

But, a few kind folks saw me for what I truly was. I was living history, they said.

Through untold amounts of blood, sweat, oil, and tears I was rescued and completely refurbished. I hadn't felt this good since...since I was nothing more than a young fire boat.

I got to watch children dance once again with delight on my deck as water showered down on them. It was a nice change of pace from what I used to do. And for the first time, I thought that retirement might be fun.

Then, that day happened.

Two of my distant cousins collided with the Twin Towers. Those kind folks that put me back together again? They had to do something, and I couldn't agree with them more. We were all New Yorkers, after all.

Radio calls were sent. Phone calls were made. And soon, we received our orders. Get the civilians out of the area. It wasn't much, but it was better than nothing. We were doing something to help.

Retirement was over. It was time to get back to work. Loaded down with people, literally standing room only, we moved them to safety. After only the first load we were reassigned to another job. It was one that I was literally built for. The Fire Department needed me once again!

I pumped water for them for eighty hours! It never felt so good to be useful again. Okay, I admit, there were some problems; but hey, I'm old! What did you expect? The job got done, and I worked non-stop until the water mains were restored.

It was in those hours that I truly realized that retirement wasn't something that I was forced into. Instead, it is more of a state of mind. Now, I'm not ready to retire completely—I've still not a lot of miles left in me! But, I'm just not up to par to stand hull to hull with younger fire boats. Maybe, for now, I'll just stick to my new mission in life—working with the future generations of New Yorkers. Showing them how no matter what happens, we are all able to help in some way.

~~~
Based on a true story. You can find more information here: http://www.fireboat.org/


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This article has been read 375 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Seema Bagai 09/17/09
An interesting piece. Thanks for sharing this bit of recent history. Good job.
Charla Diehl 09/18/09
What a creative way to write on the topic--from a fireboats POV. Good job.
Allen Stark09/18/09
I like the direction you took this entry. Interesting and informative.
Beth LaBuff 09/20/09
I loved your creativity with the topic... something I wish I'd done. :) Great work on this story!
Diana Dart 09/21/09
Very creative entry featuring an intriguing slice of history.
Catrina Bradley 09/21/09
You come from a fun POV to tell a serious story. My only problem is a "New Yorker" saying "y'all". :) You found a way to make a historical event interesting to read. This would make a great basis for a children's picture book.
Bryan Ridenour09/22/09
Quite a creative take on the topic. Well written and wells done!
Carol Slider 09/22/09
I hadn't heard this story, and I'm so glad you told it! Very unique perspective! Well done.