Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Old Fire Truck in Cascade Park – Part 1

Although I don't mention most of them on the blog, I get emails almost every day from people asking me if I have any information about something they remembered from being a kid.
I received an interesting email like that from Fritz Kuenzel in late February. The name seemed familiar, since I remembered that my brother Ken had played trumpet in a Musicians Union band that included two gentlemen named Hans and Fritz Kuenzel. (It was hard to forget them because the Katzenjammer Kids of comic strip fame have the same first names.)
Fritz’s email revealed the musical connection – and brought up a bit of Cascade Park trivia as well.
Fritz wrote, “I was reading one of your articles on Cascade Park at Elyria, Ohio. As a young boy in the 1960's, my father played in a local musicians union and they would periodically do concerts during the summer months at Cascade Park.
“My parents would take us along and we would play in the park playground during the band concerts. There used to be a very old 1930's era fire truck that sat in the sand in the playground for kids to play on. I have fond memories of climbing and playing on it.
“I was wondering, what ever happened to that old fire truck? What manufacture and year was it? Was it an old retired Elyria fire truck?  A friend of mine who grew up in Elyria also remembers the old fire truck and we talked about it last week on the phone.”
I traded emails with Fritz, who responded with more information about his father. “My Dad, Fritz R. Kuenzel, played tuba in the band,” he explained. ““I was named Fritz N. after him. His twin brother Hans played trombone in Dixieland bands, both are 82 yrs. old. Hans named his son Hans also.” 
A quick online search revealed that the Kuenzel brothers have had a long musical career. An item in the April 23, 1945 Chronicle-Telegram about the Avon Lake High School Spring Music Festival mentions that “Hans and Fritz Kuenzel will play a duet, “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen.” Another Avon Lake High School concert mentioned in the November 25, 1947 C-T notes that “Hans and Fritz Kuenzel, members of the band, will play a trombone solo and a tuba solo, respectively.”
But getting back to the fire truck. Researching it was more difficult than I thought, and I only found a photo of the playground (with no truck) and few recent online mentions of the truck in the Chronicle-Telegram
Cascade Park playground photo courtesy of
The Great Elyria Time Machine website
An article from the C-T June 13, 2014 included this reminisce. “When I was a kid, my grandparents lived just above Cascade Park on Bath Street, and one of the biggest thrills of my kid life was getting to play in the park. This was before anything in our world was scary or dangerous, so it was ok for parents to let their kids climb all over a rusted out fire truck with jagged chrome edges and steel springs sticking up through the seats.”
Since I had come up short in my research, I decided to ask Rick Kurish for his help. Rick is a great researcher who has helped me many times. 
If anyone could come up with something about the Cascade Park fire truck, he could.
And he did!

1 comment:

Kenneth Brady said...

What a nice thing to see that Hans und Fritz are still kicking around! They were great guys, fun to work with, and amazing musicians.