Union City Fire Department remembered with t-shirts
Once upon a time, in a galaxy known as Union City, there was the Union City Fire Department where my father Albert worked for 30 years on 16th Street and New York Avenue. My Uncle Nick retired from the firehouse on 29th and Central Ave.
In 1999, according to their website, "The Union City Fire Department, with 100 firefighters located on four firehouses throughout the city, joined in a historic merger with three other North Hudson towns in January, 1999 to form North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue."
But the memories of the 'The Union City Fire Department" remain. Retired Captain Orlando Trujillo captured those memories on a deep blue t-shirt with the embroidered UCFD patch on the left side, expecting to fill the desires of a few friends and alumni. He sold 132!
"Well, a friend asked me if I had any UCFD t-shirts and I told him I didn’t anymore so I decided to make some up. I have done it through the years and also had some sweatshirts made as well. I guess me thinking of the guys I put it out there because I know UCFD meant a lot to so many." Trujillo told me in an email exchange.
"At first, I was taken back by the order but now knowing what it meant to you and the Colavito’s is well worth it. Wellbeing hired by UCFD was the best thing that happened to me and being able to work with some of the men was an honor and privilege. Men like your father and all the other legends and old-timers set the bar and I was blessed to have been a small part of it."
These shirts mean so much to Captain Trujillo and the brothers and families who bought them.
"I retired on Aug. 1, 2019 as Captain. Have to tell you that through the years I have made friends that are more like family. One in particular that I miss every day is Eduardo Kiki Diaz he left us Aug. 26, 2017 (cancer probably job-related) and that’s what made being part of UCFD so great. Blessed to have worked with the best and been able to help the community and residents as well."
We lived about four blocks from the 16th Street firehouse and I remember my mother sending me there either to bring or get stuff from my father who's shift lasted 24 hours with 72 hours off.
Also, whenever there were chocolate or raffle tickets to sell for school, the firehouse was the first place I went. I can still hear Bobby Gemignani, one of his fellow "brothers" yelling, "hide your wallets" when I'd come in.
The guys my father worked with were like his brothers, Eddie Molinari, Bobby, Cosmo, Captain Bobby Michelin, among many others. My father loved those guys and for the rest of his life would tell me countless stories of the fun times they had working together, right up until the last time I saw him, many of which I can't repeat here.
There were also some very hard times which hurt him very deeply. He was on duty when two of his best friends Robert "Rocky" Colivito and John Promersperger lost their lives fighting fires.
If this radio thing hadn't worked out, I would have become a fireman. My oldest and dearest friend Robbo Pisani did and he was mentored by my old man. I was so proud bringing my dad to Rob's installation as Captain and seeing the reception my father got from Chiefs, who stopped what they were doing to hug my Dad, now in his 80's, and tell me how much he meant to them.
Later, after my father died, Rob arranged for me to bring my sons Albert who's named after his father and Lennon to the 16th Street firehouse and see where grandpa worked. We put him up in an engine and posted on Facebook, "Albert Trevelise rides again!" While we were there we also saw a picture still hanging on the kitchen bulletin board of my father and the old crew. I guess "old legends never die."
My father, who died in 2015 at the age of 92, would have turned 98 last Friday. The next day, I picked up the shirts for my family and my sister Michelle who said, "daddy gave us presents on his birthday!"
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.