Step Back in Time features community news from The Daily Star 25 and 50 years ago.

50 years ago

July 13, 1961

The scene was a reunion at Hamilton College. Severin Bourne of Pompano Beach, thinking of his home on an island in the Bahamas where there are no provisions for fire-fighting, commented that he "sure would like to get hold of a fire engine."

Wilmer Bresee of East Street, also a Hamilton alumnus, told him that if he were serious, he thought he knew where he could get one.

This is how it came to be that a 1925 La France fire engine that once served the Morris Fire Department and the Oneonta F and F Airpark will be the first piece of fire apparatus on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas.

The truck is scheduled to start on its trip today on a van which will deliver it to Mr. Bourne's home in Pompano Beach. From there, it will be driven into Fort Lauderdale where a special reception led by the mayor of the city will be held to greet the riders.

When Mr. Bresee returned to Oneonta from Hamilton, he contacted C.E. Maine, used car dealer in the East End, who had the engine in his lot since late last summer. Although the engine is in good condition, Maine had difficulty in selling it because the insurance for it would be too high for groups or individuals who would have liked it for parade use or simply for the novelty of owning a fire engine.

But it is sound and should serve the need of Eleuthera Island. So, Mr. Bourne was contacted and the arrangements were made.

Mr. and Mrs. Dale O'Laughlin of Fort Lauderdale were to have the privilege of driving the fire engine from Oneonta to Pompano Beach and then later to Fort Lauderdale for the surprise reception planned for them by Mr. Bourne. But Tuesday they were advised against the trip since they would have to travel through mountainous areas and the fire engine has brakes only on the rear wheels.

They will remain in Oneonta, however, to see the engine start on its trip _ first by truck, then by boat to Governor's Bay, Eleuthera in the Bahamas.

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