Donald Wood (Interview)

Dublin Core


~40 min; 1 cassette



Herb Janick Papers, MS012

Oral History Item Type Metadata


James Rooney


Donald Wood


~40 min.

Time Summary

0-10 min: August flood; first flood of 1955; occurred on the 19th of August; there had been several days of rain; Still River just overflowed; Businesses; most were located on White and Main Streets; Job location; Engine Company No. 1 (on Boughton Street); no longer exists; brick building; Politics of Danbury Fire Department; it was a small department; took him eight years to get on the force; the guy who had his job before him, left his position open for ten months; City of Danbury; has always been a cheap city; doesn't spend money; His location during August flood; was working the night shift; lived on Center Street (next to St. Peter's Church); Danbury's flood potential and warning; not aware the water had caused the problem as he was located away from the center of the city; city built over a river and had been warned in past of potential for flooding; U.S. core of engineers told them problems in 1930s; His job during flood; he was assigned to the ambulance; Ambulance; duties were different back then; one; person job that required others in area to help if possible; Pumping water; had the task for several days after of pumping out basements; October flood; same places flooded again; Looting;
10-20 min: Several of the firemen stole items from stores; told owners of the businesses were told items weren't good; Mayor John DaFine; was Danbury at time; he was friends w/ mayor of NY and he sent 22 NY workers to pump water; Relief workers from NY; stationed at various places in Danbury; many sent thought they were classy and better; unprofessional and would drink while on the job; under the command of Harry Irwin, who was a captain at the time; Death of a police officer; Robert Keating died from a heart attack due to stress; he was a friend of Wood's; Job as a relief worker guide; rode in car w/ NY chief and driver; went to sites that needed to be pumped; long hours; after they attended the businesses, they began work in homes; "Swampfield"; nickname Danbury had because of the grounds being so wet; Bernie Dolan; owned an oil company; assigned a man to help w/ the pumps; this man was also named Donald Wood;
20-30 min: Donald Wood; Deaths; after water was pumped, several bodies of homeless were found; Community help; city paid him only $20 for all the hours he did for both floods; Navy experience; fought in WW II between 1944; 45; he was able to sleep wherever he could; "Old Time" fireman; there were several in department when he joined who had been there when they used horses (last horse used in 1920); firemen used to stay on job until they died; worked every day; he learned a lot from them and enjoyed listening to their stories; Changes in job of firefighters; Danbury was one of the first cities in CT to have professional dispatchers; Damage to Danbury and the evacuation; flood destroyed Danbury as a business area; factories and stores destroyed; White St. completed flooded and had to be evacuated; His book; wrote on history of Danbury Fire Department; Businesses and other buildings;
30-40 min: Star Hotel on White St. was torn down; several other places torn down; City Hall was untouched (where Library is today); Still River; people dumped everything in there; hat factories dumped dyes into the river; His life activities; wrote books on history of Danbury and Bethel Fire Departments; wrote histories on several other Danbury things; former editor of the Scott Fanton Museum newsletter and president of the museum; former president of Fire Department union; WW II; fought in several battles; when he returned from service, WestConn wanted him to teach; Corruptness; there was some bad things done in the fire department; people who would steal/loot in New Haven, would bring items to Danbury and the firemen would purchase them


Janick, Herbert F. “Donald Wood (Interview).” Herb Janick Papers, MS012. WCSU Archives, 9 July 2019. Accessed on the Web: 22 Oct. 2019.


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