It was 1972, and the retired firefighter antique car buff didn’t realize he was about to make history! While paying for a part for his old auto, the gent behind the counter noticed his badge. He said he thought he might have something this customer might be interested in. The rest of the story is the history of the Bare Cove Fire Museum.
Lloyd Linscott, a WWII veteran, was a retired Captain of Engine 4, a 1940 Seagrave. He began his career as a firefighter in 1938. His “day” job was as a small engine repair service, primarily lawnmowers. He and his wife lived in Hingham all their lives before moving to Florida in the early 1980s. He was one of four gentlemen who would front the purchase of what was to become the first of several purchases.
He could hardly wait to get back to Hingham and Charlie Cushing’s Mobil Gas station to tell Charlie, and whoever else was there, what he had found. It wouldn’t take long, but Lloyd, Charlie, Don Lincoln, and Bob “Monty” Montgomery would each put up $100.00 to purchase a rather badly rusted bucket of metal from a junk dealer in Bellingham, MA. The rust bucket? Hingham’s first motorized ladder truck, Ladder 1. Built in 1922, by Maxim Motors, of Middleboro, MA, it still is a very efficient and powerful piece of apparatus which includes 206 running feet of Sitka Spruce WOODEN ladders - very HEAVY ladders. Ladders that required quite a bit of skill, not to mention strength, to move quickly and efficiently into place to do the job of fire fighting; ladders that needed to be rebuilt to original specifications. Never mind the rest of the truck! The ladders were rebuilt with quarter-sawn Sitka Spruce, just like the originals. Bob Fisher would allow the group to use his wood shop for the endeavor. It took about six years to rebuild to almost “as purchased” condition and more than $15,000.00. There are still a couple of items needing to be finished. It took a great deal of work. There was a lot of gold leaf work and other detailing, as well.
Then, another piece of apparatus was discovered! The 1924 Maxim pumper, Engine 4. By now, these gentlemen and a few others, who were greatly interested in the projects, were on board. Charlie Cushing had a building in his back yard that had been used by his brother-in- law, Alston Burr, the wood carver. It was affectionately known as “The Chalet.” It even had a fireplace. Meetings of these men were held there and the idea to become the “Bare Cove Fire Restorers” was born. Then, in 1976, they became “Bare Cove Fire Equipment, Inc.” There were eighteen incorporators, eight of whom are known to be deceased. Within a couple of years, it was determined that a more precise name was needed as the work they were doing was going to focus rather strictly on Hingham apparatus. In 1978, “Bare Cove Fire Equipment, Inc.” officially became the “Bare Cove Fire Museum.” Charlie was the first president; Don, the first Secretary; Lloyd, the first Clerk; and, Monty, the first Treasurer.
Charlie Cushing owned and operated the Mobil gas station under the Buttonwood tree in Hingham Center. He didn’t own the land and when the land was sold the gas station closed in the early 1990s. A WWII veteran and lifelong resident of Hingham (his wife, Winnie, came from Weymouth), he had been a firefighter with the Hingham Fire Department prior to the war. He later would become a Captain of the Call Ladder Company, Ladder 1, with a sixty-five foot aerial ladder, also a 1940 Seagrave. As a Call Firefighter, he had been elected to this position.
Robert “Monty” Montgomery was born in Hingham at the former Hingham Hospital, a Korean War vet, and a motor coach operator for Greyhound. Starting as a Call Firefighter, like his father before him, he served the town over 35 years. He started his career on the 1950, Maxim pumper, Engine 1. He retired as Call Captain of Engine 1, by now a 1974 Farrar pumper. He retired in the early 1980s and presently lives in Florida. Monty, and his late wife, Lynn, raised two children in Hingham, one of who would become the first female president of the museum. Hopefully, Monty will be back for the July 4th parade, just as he was in 2008.
Don Lincoln, another lifelong resident who can claim being born at the Hingham Hospital which used to be on Fearing Road, began as a Call Firefighter in 1960, on Ladder 1, a 1940 Seagrave. He would work his way up to Captain of Ladder 1, another Maxim ladder truck. He remained a Call Firefighter until the Call Department was disbanded in 1995. Don, the son of Chief C. Warren Lincoln, and the nephew of Captain Roger Lincoln, remains very involved with the museum. Don’s “day” job was as a Supplier Engineer for Honeywell Information Systems, the go-between with the design engineers and the production engineers of Honeywell. He dealt with the outside suppliers – getting what the designers wanted to the producers. Don, and his late wife, Sally, raised three children in Hingham. In the late 1970s, he was awarded the Honeywell community Service Award for his service with the Hingham Fire Department, which included a $500.00 donation to the museum.
In a poem, written by our own Jerry McDonough (McDonough Fuel) in 1991, he writes in part, “For they were brothers in spirit but not in name, And to form the museum was their ultimate aim. They purchased the truck with some celebration, Then immediately began the big restoration.”
Over the years, other pieces, including the 1852 Extinguisher, were acquired and restored to “as purchased” condition. Lloyd and Andy Addoms spent long hours traveling the countryside looking for more firematic material specific to the town of Hingham. Lloyd would note in a video done in 1991, for the opening of the current museum building, Andy’s tremendous help in acquiring a great deal of the memorabilia now on display in the “Display Room” of the museum. There were also a lot of other people who helped in these acquisitions, either by searching them out, or donating them.
When the group first started, work was done in Lloyd’s father’s Inspection Garage off Main Street. The building still exists. Parts were stored in their houses – more than one wife would demand the items needed to find a new home! Eventually, they would move to the Hersey House Barn. Then one day, John Richardson came to them and said he thought there was a perfect place for them in one of the remaining buildings in the old Naval Ammunition Depot. Over a two year period, 1983 to 1985, something akin to rebuilding that first piece of apparatus took place at Building 112 in Bare Cove Park; openings were filled in, a huge berm was removed, ground was graded, walls were power washed and painted, a kitchen and bathrooms were built. Then on June 23, 1991, a dedication was celebrated, the museum was up and running, and a cupola had been built and installed as an Eagle Scout project by Rick Olsen, son of Bob Olsen, firefighter. Even Bob Hedlund and Mary Jeannette Murray were there.
It took a great deal of dedication, people, and money to do all this work. As Charlie Cushing noted in a newspaper article from the 1970s, “...it was a wonder no one ended up divorced. It was, and is, a team effort all the way.” In a Patriot Ledger article in 1980, it was noted that other museums have pieces from all over. Our collection is specific to the town of Hingham. “We’re a small New England community and we are fortunate to have the means to show people firefighting capability from early to present days in one small town. Fire department history is interesting because fire is one of those things that changes the landscape of a town.” The museum uses a cut off date of 1940, as this was when the apparatus began to change a lot – including enclosed cabs. One year, a woman asked if one of the pieces was a ”summer truck.” The cab was open to the weather. Imagine trying to drive to a fire in a snow storm! There are many stories involving open cabs and weather situations!
The Ahrens Fox, the engine with the big chrome ball on the front, was rebuilt to “as purchased” condition to the tune of more than $25,000.00. Even before the movie “Field of Dreams” was thought of, the concept “build it and they will come” was a motivating factor. All the people involved worked long and hard hours – even after their day jobs. As Charlie Cushing would say back in 1977, in answer to a reporter’s question about finding hard to find items, “Where do you find all the parts?” “You make them,” he said. There were many people who donated their time, materials, parts, expertise, blood, sweat, and tears to make the museum, the apparatus, and the integrity of the museum what it is today.
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