March 16, 2011

The Paper Plate Trick

Filed under: Uncategorized — thedadlink @ 12:47 am

It all started in The Summer of 1972

It ended in the Fall of 1992

Fire Station # 2, the Eastside Rural station was built in 1948 to cover the underdeveloped Village’s East side. This area had very few homes as it was subdivided in the late 1920’s just before the big bust of 1929. Most of the streets were paved, sidewalks installed with street lights, water & sewer service, even natural gas, electrical power & phone service.

Block after block of vacant over grown city lots were waiting for people to build their American Dream Home. In the years following WWII the area saw rapid expansion and required the addition of a 2nd fire station to cover the 5 sq mile area.

The city purchased 6 residential lots using 3 of them on a side street to construct a 3 bay, 2 story fire station, leaving 3 lots facing a main street for future expansion. This large chunk of land became known as Dog Shit Park by the Fire Guys because many local folks would come to the overgrown lot and allow their dogs to crap all over the place including the alley way between the lots and the fire station which was where the fire fighters were forced to park as to not take up parking places on the street.

The local kids also liked to play Cowboy & Indians in the tall weeds and in the spring before the weeds took over they played baseball.

When I was assigned to this station, me and the Boys of Shift # 3  (GOLD) decided to clean up the lot, grade it and turn it into a green area for the kids, including the BIG kids to have some fun while on duty.

With the help of public works, a front end loader, some black dirt, sand, gravel, clay, lots of off duty hours and the help and guidance of our neighbors we had one of the nicest looking parks in the entire village. One small problem, the Parks & Rec folks did not like us muscling in on their Rice Bowl so to speak. Seems the local media picked up the story and it made the Fire Guys look like heroes and the P & R department seem like they were not doing their job of wasting the taxpayer’s money.

We had a softball diamond, clay horseshoe pits and in the wintertime, we flooded the area and had a nice ice-skating area and a hockey rink. It was our job to go to the City parks and flood the  P & R rinks, but ours was always the best one in town and it was lighted because we installed flood lights on the roof of the Fire Station with a switch at ground level so that anyone could use the lights. We later installed a nice BBQ area with a gas grill so that anyone could bring their families over and cook out and even camp over night and be able to use the bathroom on the apparatus level because we would leave the back door unlocked for them if they ask.

As I said P & R did not like the unofficial name of the place, that being Dog Shit Park or as most of the neighbors call it DSP. For about 15 years they tried to gain control of the lots, but the Fire Chief held to the fact that someday a new station would need to be built because there was no way to increase the height of the apparatus floor and aerial ladder trucks were getting bigger every year.

In 1988 the P& R folks struck a deal where they would take the lots and help save and restore the original Fire Station # 1 in the City Center to what it look like in 1884. The new park was named the Main Street Tennis Complex and was completely fenced in and paved into 4 tennis courts.

Now the area was still being used by folks that allowed their dogs to POOP everywhere on the property, until a fence went up and the real trouble started.

The dog walkers now allowed their animals to use the parkways on both streets and even brought them around in the east side lawn area of the fire station just outside my office window, to crap in my flower beds, on our wood deck area and our rear parking area.

Early Saturday and Sunday mornings before 6 am a woman would show up with 3 boxers and these guys were really good at taking a dump in all the right places. The women would sit on the park bench in front of the station until the dogs had done their duty.

One morning I was returning from a fire call and saw this woman on the tennis court with the dogs POOPING on the courts. I called on the fire radio for a police beat car and 3 of them were on the scene before she could get off the courts and get to her car. She told the cops it was her way of protesting the loss of the Dog Park. She also told them that the Firemen had no RIGHT to hand the land over to the P & R department for people to play a stupid game.

She was ordered to pick up after her dogs and was issued a ticket. She did not have anything to pick up the POOP so she had to pick it up bare handed and placed it in her cars’ trunk while the 3 cops looked on.

For months every Sunday she returned to the area bright and early and one by one allowed the dogs to go in the fenced park area and when the dog would squat, she would place a paper plate under the dog and catch the droppings. She then placed it in the trash basket on the parkway next to her car and then take the next dog. This act became know at all 3 fire stations as the Paper Plate Trick.

The trash basket was emptied only when the P & R folks got around to it and many times it was overflowing with dog waste and the smell in July and August was overwhelming sometimes.

I told her many times that the practice was to be stopped, but even after 7 tickets she still kept on with her routine.

And now the end of the Paper Plate Trick.

One day an idea popped into my brain and it was kicked around the house for some days and when a vote was taken the House Captain applied the action plan to end the practice.

For several weekends, once the lady had left the area the paper plate with the dog shit was removed from the trash barrel, wrapped with plastic, placed in a cardboard box and frozen in a large chest freezer in the basement.

Since we already had the women home address from the copies of the Police tickets she had been issued, the next part was easy. It was noticed that over a period of time the women had been losing weight and the police had noticed that there had been an empty Jenny Craig box, the kind sent through the mail, in her trunk. At the time I too was on the program and had several of those types of boxes in my garage.

So I simply took the frozen paper plates with the dog shit, boxed them up and dropped them off at the local post office. We never saw that woman or her dogs again.

Needless to say she was not at my retirement party with all the neighbors wishing me good luck and good riddance.

Battalion 16 Chief INNY – Retired

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