It's not hard to get to the Toledo Firefighters Museum at the old No. 18 fire house on Sylvania Avenue, 10 minutes from downtown, and offhand I can't think of a good reason for not going there to see the 1837 fire pumper “Neptune,” and the old ladder trucks and hose carts, or to clang the gongs and bells, or to slide down the shiny fire pole.
But should you not be able to make the trip, or if you plan to go and want to know beforehand what to expect, there's no better online destination than the museum's Web site, which is, in a word, fabulous.
Of course, online you can't kick the tires of the pumpers, Jeeps, and other equipment, or get a hands-on feel for more than 165 years of Toledo firefighting history. But the site has been brilliantly designed to give you a pretty fair idea of what firefighting was like in the old days. It is replete with history, poetic reminiscences, and tributes to fallen firefighters. As Web sites go, this is a major achievement.
The museum was established in 1976, located first at the Toledo Zoo Science Museum and then at the two-story No. 18 fire house in West Toledo. There are hundreds of photos of notable fires, models of old rigs, and pictures of the three “firefighting ladies” - horses that pulled the rigs - plus “sweatsticks” that swept lather from the horses, “speaking trumpets” (presumably an earlier variation of the bullhorn), helmets and old uniforms, scrapbooks, journals, and a history of Dalmatian dogs and their peculiar relationship with fire stations.
From a practical standpoint, a part of the site is devoted to a safety and learning center (“Jed's Bedroom” and “Fireman Freddy's Fire Station”) that allows children to role-play fire dangers they could encounter in their homes. Children - and adults - can learn how to roll out of bed in case of fire, keep low in case of smoke, and feel the door for heat with the back of their hand.
One section is devoted to sheet music about firefighters, with titles like “The Firemen's Dream” and “A Fire Laddie-Just Like My Daddy,” plus an audio clip of a piano march and two-step called “The Midnight Fire Alarm.”
There's also a poem, written by a man named Nick Kenny, that has a particular poignancy in the wake of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. It reads in part:
“Here's to the firefighters, one and all
Always at your beck and call
Vigilant and unafraid
Volunteer or city paid
Unknown heroes clad in blue
They give up their lives just for you
Pray for them as they go past
As every ride may be their last.”
The best lobster I ever had was at a place called Thurston's Lobster Pound in the downeast part of Maine, in a town named Bernard. Huge chunks of lobster bobbed in the lobster stew, and the lobster roll spilled over with the same sweet, juicy pieces. With a side of drawn butter next to the plate and bowl, we ate at an old wooden picnic table on a patio overlooking peaceful Bass Harbor, where lobster boats left early in the morning and returned late in the afternoon.
As good as the lobster was, Thurston's is only one of hundreds of places in Maine where you can dine on the best lobster in the country, if not the world. But of course, you don't have to travel to Maine to enjoy authentic Maine lobster; Lobsters-online.com is one of many sites that will ship fresh live lobsters to anywhere in America.
At Lobsters-online, order before 2:30 p.m. one day and the live lobsters will arrive the next day. Just be prepared for the price: A 1.4 pound lobster costs about $15, and the 1.5 pounder is around $18 - not bad. But the real expense is in the shipping, via FedEx, in chilled and insulated boxes. That costs $24.95 on top of the lobster. What a price, but what a feast.
What I like about Lobsters-online in particular is its desire not just to take your order, but the pages it devotes to the glories of Maine lobsters, the history of lobsters, and oodles of recipes. The site also sells New England clambakes, steamer clams and Cape Cod little necks, sea scallops, mussels, whole fish and fillets, and tuna “just off the boat.” All are available for next-day delivery wherever you live, including Alaska and Hawaii.
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