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'37 Dodge Bell Comes Home - GFD - 09/29/2007


Bell Makes Way Back Home After 50 Year Journey

GOSHEN - Sometime in the late fifties after a fire, the Goshen Volunteer Fire Department desperately needed to replace some suction hose that had been damaged beyond repair.  Problem was, the department was also very short of funds.  So, Chief Francis Dresser traded Ed Ryan Sr., a fire equipment dealer and member of the Northampton Fire Department, the bell off the 1937 Dodge for the hose.  The reasoning behind the trade was simple.  The bell didn't help put out a fire but the hose did!

1937 Dodge Bell comes home

Ed Ryan Jr. (right) presents the bell from Goshen's first fire truck, a 1937 Dodge, to Ruth and Francis Dresser. 

Many years went by and Ed passed away.  However, the bell remained in the possession of Ed's son Ed Jr., also a member of the Northampton Fire Department (retired).  Four or five years ago he stopped in to see the Dressers and said he had noticed the old Dodge parked behind the station.  He wanted to know if we were going to restore it.  If we were, he would donate the bell back to us.  Deputy Chief Kim Dresser was aware of that conversation so when the department started the restoration fund he began the search to locate Ed Jr.  He wasn't having much luck with catching him at his home in Florence.  He doesn't have an answering machine and it turns out spends about 6-8 months in Florida every year.  A connection was made after finally resorting to snail mail.  The result was a phone call and subsequent meeting at the Dressers' home where the bell was returned.

Ed Ryan Jr. returned the bell to Francis to be used in the restoration of the 1937 Dodge in memory of his father.  It turns out the bell had been on the porch of their camp in Savoy.  For a number of years, it was used to call them back from fishing or to signal when dinner was ready.  When the camp was sold about ten years ago, the bell found its' way back to Ed's house in Florence where it sat on a shelf in his garage.

After a fifty something year hiatus, the bell is back home.  When you think about it, Francis worked out a pretty good deal really.  The Ryan's had the use of the bell, the department had use of the suction hose and now has the bell back.

The restoration fund has now topped $2,000 thanks to a generous $1,000 donation from Goshen residents Frank and Nancy Burnett.  The Burnett's had pledged to match the first $1,000 of the fund when it reached that milestone.

(Saturday, September 29, 2007)