Good old-fashioned food and fellowship abound at the firemen's breakfasts on Sunday mornings around the county.
Last Sunday, nearly 500 folks started the bright day by chowing down at the fire hall in New Windsor. They caught up on the news with neighbors they hadn't seen during the snowy winter months, raved about the food and went back for second and third helpings on everything from pancakes and eggs to apples and hominy.
To say that a good time was had by all is probably an understatement. "I look forward to these breakfasts all month!" commented the folks queuing up for pancakes.
What does it take to feed a crowd of 500 once a month? Lots of food and cooperation, according to Granville Grabill, a charter member of the fire company (45-year veteran) and a breakfast man since New Windsor began holding the breakfasts six years ago.
"We order several crates of eggs, 360 pounds of sausage, 80 pounds of puddin' [sausage byproduct], potatoes, gravy and ingredients for pancakes. Firefighters start setting up on the Friday night before the breakfast, and arrive at 5 a.m. Sunday to start cooking."
About 20 men and women participate in all aspects of the breakfasts.
And what happens if there's a fire call in the middle of one of those Sunday mornings?
"When that siren blows, help gets scarce," says Mr. Grabill. "We generally manage, though, when they go answer a call."
Mr. Grabill and George Petry, another charter member and past president of the company for 16 years, remember the early years, when local farmers banded together to become firefighters -- but had no money for firefighting equipment.
"Farmers would donate chickens or potatoes," remembers Mr. Petry, "and we would sell them to raise money." Selling chickens wouldn't buy much today -- a ambulance recently cost $80,000; a new pumper that the company needs runs about $200,000.
The New Windsor Fire Company has 55 active members on the roster; they answer 175 fire calls and 380 ambulance calls a year. Volunteers work from two to 30 hours a week, depending on their position in the company and how much time they have to devote to volunteering.
Fire company President Marcell Monshaur points out that New Windsor has the only fire company that is still entirely volunteer.
"We're always looking for volunteers," he says. "Always."
Joining the group requires different time commitments -- from the volunteers who work on fund-raisers to the paramedics who can spend up to 400 hours in training.
"There are 365 days in a year," reminds Mr. Monshaur. "You don't have to be there every single day."
There are two more breakfasts to look forward to this spring, on the first Sunday mornings in April and May. Information: 635-6373, or, at Mr. Monshaur's invitation, "Stop by the fire hall any time. The door is always open."
If you want another good reason to visit the New Windsor Fire Company, head over there today for the blood drive, run by the Red Cross from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m.
"Good time, good effort, and good sportsmanship" was the theme when the New Windsor Recreation Council gathered almost 250 people in the Elmer Wolfe Elementary School cafeteria last Friday to give trophies and praise to the boys who played basketball in the Rec Council's program during the winter months. Some 57 boys from second through fourth grades participated in the program, which concentrated on fun, sportsmanship and skill.
Kids and coaches met twice a week in the Elmer Wolfe gym for a spirited good time and healthy competition. "It was fun -- I had a good time," declared a 7-year-old who never wanted to miss a game, even when he had the flu.
The New Windsor Recreation Council is currently selling candy bars to raise money for its summertime softball and baseball programs for area youngsters.
New Windsor is serving up more good food for hungry folks. On March 20 the New Windsor Youth Fellowship Cluster hosts a spaghetti supper at St. Paul's United Methodist Church from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. Cost is $4 for adults; $2.50 for kids 6-12 years old; free for the little ones.
Spring must be around the corner. Hundreds of gulls were spotted in the farm yards on Middleburg Road on Monday, pecking at the grain in the melted snow.