February 7, 2019
When we traveled to Beaumont (119,000 souls) in 2011 we only stayed the night. We had enough time to go into town and look around. This time we are staying one more day in order to give the city the once over.
As we enter the downtown area we are amazed at how little life there is for a city of this size. Hardly any traffic, and not many people walking on the side walks. There are a lot of cars in the city hall and court house parking lot however.
Our first stop is the Fire Museum of Texas- “The Hottest Spot in Town!” Out front is the largest fire hydrant in the world. It’s really a monument. The museum is housed in an old fire house built in 1927.
The Gamewell System on display predates the telephone. It was the best way to alert the fire department to a possible emergency at the time. The call box was spring wound. It worked like a telegraph. Each box had it’s own code. When the box was activated a bell at the fire station would tap out the code of the box. The ticker tape would punch holes in the paper tape, the number of holes corresponding to the alarm box. A nearby chart was available in order to look up the location of each alarm box.
The idea was whoever pulled the lever in the box would wait until the fire department arrived in order to report an emergency. When I came on the job telephones were prevalent and the call boxes became a nuisance. Some folks, mostly kids, thought it was fun to watch a fire engine respond red lights and siren only to find no one waiting to report an emergency. They were removed in the 1970’s and the false alarm rate dropped drastically.
Fire pumpers and ladder trucks dating back to 1923 are housed at the museum. My dad joined the fire department in 1933 and I in 1969. One of our sons is a fire captain today. Anyhow, quite a few of the artifacts displayed were equipment that I used when I was on the job, including that Gamewell System. Should I also be in a fire museum on display? Possibly!
The Minor Basilica of St. Anthony is a must visit. The church is beautiful! It outshines the neigborhood that surrounds it. After Hurricane Harvey (2017) a lot of neighborhoods are looking a little ragged. There are a many lots that used to have homes on them but are now vacant.
By now you are probably on to us. We are Catholic and we love to visit churches around the country, especially older ones which have some of the most fantastic architecture features of any buildings that we have seen.
It is said that those of the Christian Faith have done more for their fellow man than any other faith through monetary donations, educating children and adults and through the volunteering of their time to help those less fortunate. Organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse, Habitat For Humanity and so many others have done so much for folks who are starving, or are homeless due to a natural disaster. All because of these two Commandments.
We will be pushing on towards Nachitoches, LA. See you there!