Friday, December 10
Nearly frozen, I found my way to the fire station and knocked on the door. Unsure of who I was but permitting me entrance - I told them that Tim McShea (a fireman and friend of Marty Kelly) had arranged for me to stay at the station for a night. Hearing this, I was immediately welcomed and given a cup of hot coffee and asked to rest myself - which I sorely needed after my cold march into Philadelphia. A fireman there by the name of Don Adams was particularly kind and sat listening as I told him and others about my mission of walking across America. Being fatigued and cold - I was overwhelmed emotionally by the kindness and support shown by everyone. It was as if I just been admitted to a fraternity.
Soon, Tim McShea showed up (whom I had never met) and he turned out to be the nicest man to interact with. He welcomed me to Philadelphia and asked many questions about my journey. Tim had taken the day off and was prepared to take me wherever I wished to visit but had only one favor to ask. Would I be willing to talk to the students at his sons’ school - a charter public high school located two blocks from Independence Hall? He had told the principal about my arrival and the school was interested in hearing about my trip and its purpose. The school’s name? Constitution High School! Could it get any better than this? I felt I was in the middle of a dream!
Leaving those details for later let it be said that following my school presentation (which he attended) Tim took me to the National Constitution Center, the Philadelphia Firemen’s Historical Museum, the Firemen’s Union Hall, and any other place I wished to visit. He would not let me spend a dime of my own money and everywhere we went he introduced me to people as if I were his long lost brother. I cannot tell it all in a blog post but I am still reeling from the kindness he showered upon me.
I ate breakfast at the fire station, I ate lunch at the fire station, I ate dinner at the fire station, and I slept in a bed at the fire station. The fireman would not accept a donation for food, let me wash a dish, or clean up in any way saying I was their guest. During the night the alarm went off twice and the driver even told me I could’ve sat behind the seat and gone out on a run with them. Do you believe this? It is all true! These guys at “Ladder Two” as the station is called, were the best ambassadors the city of Philadelphia could have ever asked for. They actually adopted me for a day and I was given a Philadelphia Fireman’s sweatshirt and a tee shirt to boot! In addition - Tim wanted to hook me up with other firemen in New Jersey if possible to “take care of me” along the way. He said they have contacts in Atlantic City (my destination) and wants me to call daily letting him know where I am and when I am scheduled to arrive.
This post may seem like crazy rambling but so too was my experience. Let me say this clearly - I have met many people in my journey across America but nothing can top the Philadelphia Fireman at Ladder Two on 4th and Arch Street. I owe them big time with a special thanks to:
Marty Kelly, Don Adams, Ray Vozelli, and particularly Tim McShea!
If you're ever at Independence Hall, stop by and tell them what great guys they are. It's quite easy to find.