My Fifteen Seconds of Fame Came From Shopping


Lebanon Author Terry Susong shares memories and stories of being a fireman.

Lebanon resident Terry Susong retired as a professional firefighter back in 1995 from Middletown Fire Department. “Some firemen after leaving the department are finished with their past life and move on to other things and never look back. The majority of us have it in our blood and carry the good, the bad, and sometimes the ugly for the reminding breathing moments of our lives.  My goal is to give you, the reader, a small look inside the firehouse. Most of the things I will be writing about here, hopefully, will make you laugh. There is so much I could tell you, but a lot of things are better off not in black and white.”

Back in the late 70s' it was common for our three-men crew to go to the grocery store to purchase our daily meals. We had recently received word that the public was upset because they thought the city was using their tax dollars to pay for our food. But, that wasn’t the case at all. 

We always paid for our own meals, which ran somewhere between four and six dollars a day. It wasn’t too long after hearing this concern we were out at the store purchasing our meals when a nicely dressed woman with a clipboard in hand stopped us.

“Excuse me,” she said, then, asking, “How are you guys doing today?”

We all nodded at the same time with a smile that we were fine.

“What are you guys doing here today?” she asked.

We told her we were buying food for ten hungry firemen waiting for us back at the station.

She responded with a slight giggle in her voice, “Oh, that’s great!’’

As she reached for her pen, she said, “My name is Irene Wright, and I’m a writer for The Cincinnati Enquirer. I would like to do a story on you guys. Would that be alright with you?”

We spent the next few minutes telling her it really wouldn’t be a very good idea. We explained to her how John Q Public was already up-in-arms about us driving the big, red fire truck to the store to get our food. And, we really didn’t need a story on us…. Especially, about eating.

Once we convinced her that writing about “us” was a bad idea, the conversation turned to The Cincinnati Reds Opening Day being the next day.

Being a big Reds fan and a jokester, with a straight face I told her, “You know, if the Reds lose the big game tomorrow, they’ll not be able to sell beer at the stadium anymore!”

“Oh no! Why?” she asked in complete shock.

“They’ll have lost the opener!” I said.

A burst of laughter came out of her mouth as though it was the funniest thing she had ever heard.

“That’s hysterical. May I quote you on that?” she asked.

“Sure, I don’t mind,” I said.

The next day the Reds lost their first game of the season 7-2!  And, I must say Irene was a woman of her word for she ended her article, ... “With the poor performance of our Reds today at Riverfront Stadium there will not be any more beer for sale the rest of the season! Why? Because they lost the opener!”

To my surprise there was my name … in bold letters, giving me the credit for the joke!  My fifteen seconds of fame!

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