From Stagecoach to Now
In the late1800’s one of the only modes of transportation to a then very sparsely populated Long Island was a stagecoach that ran down Old Plank Road, now called Merrick Road, from Brooklyn to Freeport. The roadway was actually planks of wood laid over the dirt. The stagecoach, which could carry up to twenty people, was called a “Tally-Ho” and it made a regular stop at the “Tally-Ho Inn” that stood at the time on the southeast corner of Old Plank Road and Horton Avenue.
In 1910, the Tally-Ho Inn, a three story bar and rooming house, was destroyed by fire due to the lack of fire protection in the area. Shortly thereafter a group of eight public spirited citizens from the Lynbrook and Valley Stream area, and who frequented the Inn, joined together to help form a new volunteer fire company. Thus Tally-Ho, the fire company, was born. The first meeting of record to form the company was held on March 24, 1911 in a small vacant building next to the now reconstructed Tally-Ho Inn. And, one year later on March 25, 1912, the State of New York granted a certificate of incorporation for “Tally-Ho Chemical Fire Engine Company #3 of Lynbrook, New York.”
The first order of business for the new fire company was the purchase of a hand-drawn chemical fire engine, which was made possible from “personal contributions” from members and friends. A suitable bell was also obtained to summon the volunteers. Tally-Ho was now ready to help protect the area communities. In addition to covering the western part of Lynbrook, Tally-Ho’s protection area extended north to Franklin Square, south to Hewlett, and Valley Stream on the west.
With the help of the Tally-Ho Ladies Auxiliary, which was also formed in 1912, many dances, balls, and card parties were held to help raise money to pay expenses for the new fire company. No taxation was ever requested from the area residents for this fire protection.
In the minutes of the February 4, 1914, company meeting, the Lynbrook Fire Department, of which Tally-Ho was not yet a member, commended Tally-Ho for its assistance at the Lyceum Theatre fire on Union Avenue. Tally-Ho also helped fight the Nassau Hotel fire in Long Beach on January 26, 1922. “It was at this fire that two of the members were seriously overcome from smoke in the basement of Hotel Nassau.” Tally-Ho also fought the “Ocean front fire” in Rockaway Beach, Queens.
In 1916, Tally-Ho joined the United Fire Departments. This department was made up of independent fire companies operating in unincorporated areas. It was composed of Norwood Hook and Ladder of Malverne, Franklin Hook and Ladder of Munson, and Tally-Ho of Lynbrook. Presently on an upstairs wall in the firehouse is one of the original phone posters to call these departments in case of fire.
In 1917, Tally-Ho member Louis Meier, then Chief of the company, decided that the small firehouse “in a dilapidated building” was inadequate for the growing membership. With the help of the members, and the Ladies Auxiliary, “lots were purchased on the east side of Horton Avenue,” and down the block, for a new firehouse. A year later on May 8, 1918, the members celebrated the opening of their new firehouse. A cardboard 1918 poster found in a wall during recent re-construction, attests to the many community functions held in the Tally-Ho hall. The poster hangs on the wall on the second floor. According to minutes written in October 1922, by Chief Meier, “the building is now one of the best known firehouses and halls in the community.”
In 1921, the members decided to raise money to purchase a new apparatus. Chief Meier wrote, “A GMC chassis was obtained and then a body and then first class double chemical tanks went on until a complete rebuilt fire apparatus was assembled that would compare favorably with most any combination truck on Long Island. The total expenditures involved close to $2000 cash practically all the finances by Tally-Ho, besides the hard work donated by members in designing, electrical work, mechanical, upholstery etc.”
Shortly thereafter, in 1922, the Incorporated Village of Lynbrook extended its boundaries westerly to include Horton Avenue and the Tally-Ho firehouse. Under state law, the company could no longer be independent and was forced to join the Lynbrook Fire Department, or disband. Joining the LFD presented a problem because the membership was equally divided between residents of Lynbrook and Valley Stream. On October 4, 1922, a vote was taken amongst the 38 members and it came out evenly divided. The members voting against joining the LFD felt Tally-Ho should remain independent and move into Valley Stream. The “chairman” then cast the deciding vote to join the Lynbrook Fire Department. Minutes from that meeting stated that if the company voted against joining the Lynbrook Fire Department it “would have meant the disbandment of one of the finest hard working fire companies on Long Island.”
Nineteen members of Tally-Ho signed their names to a list presented to the Lynbrook Fire Department for membership. The other nineteen that did not sign were offered “the opportunity of being considered an honorary member of the company or resigning.” After the vote an agreement was finally reached amongst the members. Those who lived in Lynbrook kept the firehouse, while the members who lived in Valley Stream took the newly built chemical fire engine and formed their own company in Valley Stream. Thus Engine Company #2 of the Valley Stream Fire Department, located at Brooklyn Avenue and Sunrise Highway, was formed. Tally-Ho and its sister company, Engine #2, VSFD, both take pride in the warm relationship that still exists 100 years later between the two companies.
On Sunday morning, October 8, 1922, a special meeting of the Fire Council of the Lynbrook Fire Department was held and “the decision of Tally-Ho was read. The Council unanimously accepted Tally-Ho as part of the Lynbrook Fire Department with a now active roster of 19 members.” This decision was forwarded to the Village of Lynbrook the following day and it was unanimously approved by the mayor and Board of Trustees.
In the 1920’s, Tally-Ho expanded the firehouse to include a second piece of equipment. For many years a hose wagon filled the second bay followed later by the Floodlight Unit. A brick face was also put on the outside of the firehouse during those early years. The members also enlarged the hall for dances and other community activities. During the 1920’s and 1930’s, Tally-Ho’s hall was still the center of entertainment for many in the surrounding areas.
Also in the 1920’s, Tally-Ho formed its own Junior Fire Department which participated in parades and hose tournaments. Honorary Chief Jim “Rock” Mariano, who has since passed, always claimed he was one of Tally-Ho’s first juniors. The Junior program was started again in 1978, and since then quite a few of our present members have gone through the program before joining Tally-Ho.
Over the years, Tally-Ho has gone from a hand-drawn pumper in 1912 to a Model-T in 1922, to a Mack combination pumper in 1923, to a Seagrave 750 gallon pumper in 1947, a Mack 1000 pumper in 1961, a Seagrave pumper in 1976, and an HME in 1997. All the pumpers had been painted red except the last two which were painted lime green. At a company meeting in 1974, the membership was equally split between red and the lime green as the color for the then new truck. The captain of Tally-Ho at the time voted for lime green. The lime green color also won out on the present 1997 pumper.
One of the items in the firehouse that has a long history is the brass fire pole. Tally-Ho is allegedly one of only two firehouses on Long Island that has a brass fire pole for the volunteers to slide down from the second floor meeting room to the apparatus floor below when an alarm sounds.
In June 1980, company members found a rotting antique Model-T fire engine in upstate New York, which was originally built for the Upper Jay NY Fire Department and resembled closely Tally-Ho’s 1922 Model-T. The members bought it, brought it home, and restored it.
The firehouse on Horton Avenue still stands today, with additions to the original structure, and new siding, new windows, and many roofs over the years. The hall in Tally-Ho was the center of community activity back then and still is today. Many residents and organizations have used the hall, which was also expanded for local and political activities, weddings, graduations, fundraisers, and other family gatherings and affairs.
In Tally-Ho’s 100 year history, fourteen of its members served over 50 years as a Tally-Ho volunteer. The longest serving member was Ex-Chief and Honorary Commissioner Dominick “Uncle Dom” DeCarlo, who at 86, sadly passed away in January, 2012. He had served 65 active years as a member of Tally-Ho. He was also the Chairman of our 100th year celebration. .
Sadly, we also must never forget two special Tally-Ho members who made the supreme sacrifice to this community and our country. On May 31, 1932, Lieutenant Fred Schnoor died in the line of duty fighting a fire at a “store house” fire at 3 Maple Avenue, after being felled by heavy smoke. More recently, Ex-Captain Jeffrey L. Wiener, who joined the military and became a Navy Corpsman after 9-11, was killed in action in Iraq on May 7, 2005. Both members are remembered on Tally-Ho’s “Wall of Heroes.” Fred and Jeff are honored at the New York State Firefighter’s Memorial in Albany. Jeff is also honored at the Village of Lynbrook’s Doughboy Monument, while the US Navy named a training center after him, and the US Postal Service named the Lynbrook Post Office in his honor.
Over the years, while new equipment has replaced the old, the company continues to attract young community-minded volunteers, as in 1911, who are dedicated to protect the lives and property of the residents of Lynbrook. And as the members change, new faces replace long remembered ones, and sons have replaced fathers. One thing which has always remained throughout Tally-Ho’s 100 year history has been the camaraderie and support each member gives to each other and the company. For 100 years the member’s commitment and dedication to their fellow residents has been proven over and over.
From Stagecoach to now, “Tally-Ho Will Shine Tonight,” and every night.
Copyright © 2012 Lynbrook Fire Department. All
Revised: 29 Aug 2013 06:03:47 -0500 .
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