2017-07-28 / In the Know

Pine Point Ladies Auxiliary disbanding

By B. Michael Thurlow Special to the Leader


Pine Point Ladies Auxiliary, circa 1949. Front, from left, are Doris Libby, Marjorie Sturgeon, Catherine Young, Emma Downs, Gloria Carson, Marjorie Douglass, Ruth Anderson, Coralie Lothrop, Ellen Lothrop and Olive Barker. Back, Betty Thurlow, Flossie Hurd, Queenie Seal, Pat Dennis, Helen Perreau, Amy Googins, Catherine Siminski, Marjorie Bostwick, Doris Thompson and Lillian Libby, Viola Glover. (Courtesy photo) Pine Point Ladies Auxiliary, circa 1949. Front, from left, are Doris Libby, Marjorie Sturgeon, Catherine Young, Emma Downs, Gloria Carson, Marjorie Douglass, Ruth Anderson, Coralie Lothrop, Ellen Lothrop and Olive Barker. Back, Betty Thurlow, Flossie Hurd, Queenie Seal, Pat Dennis, Helen Perreau, Amy Googins, Catherine Siminski, Marjorie Bostwick, Doris Thompson and Lillian Libby, Viola Glover. (Courtesy photo) It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce that the last remaining fire department ladies auxiliary voted to disband at their last monthly meeting. The Pine Point Ladies Auxiliary was formed in the early 1940s. I wasn’t able to find an exact date, but we know for sure it was prior to the wildfires of 1947 and it very well may have been in the late-1930s.

In those early years fire department ladies auxiliaries were common place. They were comprised of a combination of the wives, girlfriends and family members of the volunteer firefighters along with ladies throughout the neighborhoods who just wanted to help out. The fire department’s canteen wasn’t formed until the late 1950s so prior to that it was the ladies auxiliaries that cooked meals and brought sandwiches and cold refreshments to the firefighters at the scene of long lasting fires.

Beyond their response to fires to help the crews, they assisted with fundraising by holding public dinners, dances and a variety of other activities. Back in those days, the fire barn was the social center of each of the neighborhoods. It was the place where people gathered on a routine basis for entertainment and good fellowship.

For many years each of the six major neighborhoods or fire districts in Scarborough had a ladies auxiliary. Over time, one after another succumbed to the lack of volunteers needed to maintain a viable organization. Families got busier and there were many more opportunities for the entertainment and camaraderie that helped sustain them for decades. A similar lack of volunteerism has caused the significant reduction in volunteer firefighters and participation in the various civic groups in our community, almost all of which are struggling with sufficient membership to meet their missions.

I noted that it is with a heavy heart that I write this article for two reasons. First, for over 40 years I have watched the hard work that these ladies have contributed to put on their very popular summer fair, participate in Fourth of July parades, cook meals for the local call companies and respond to calls when needed. The Pine Point Ladies Auxiliary raised enough money with their activities each year to be able to provide cash donations to the Engine 4 call company to purchase equipment or supplies they weren’t able to get through town appropriations. They have for many years also funded a college scholarship program for high school students going on to study emergency services or to support the children of firefighters going to college for other subjects.

The second reason is nostalgic. I’ve attached a photo of the Pine Point Ladies Auxiliary taken about 1949. Out of the 21 ladies in the photo, former chief Robert Carson’s mom, Gloria, is the only one remaining. One of the names you may notice is my grandmother, Betty Thurlow, who was the first president of the auxiliary. My great grandmother, Queenie Seal, and several other relatives are also in the photo. I’m also proud that my wife, Malvina, continued our family’s tradition of service to the community by joining soon after we were married and for the past several years she has served as the auxiliary’s secretary/treasurer. I guess you could say our family was in a leadership position at the beginning and at the end of this amazing group’s impressive 75-plus-year history.

As the Pine Point ladies close this chapter of our history, I would like to salute all the present and past members of all of the ladies auxiliaries for their outstanding contributions over the years. Our department and our community is better for your dedication and service.

If you have any questions about his article or any fire department issue you may contact me at mthurl@ci.scarborough.me.us or call 730-4201.

B. Michael Thurlow is fire chief for Scarborough.

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