Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ding, Dong, Ding

I had an appointment at the Notre Dame Fire Department at 8:30 yesterday morning for a tour of the University.  The station was only 5 minutes from my hotel so it was an easy ride.  I pulled in to find their Assistant Chief conducting their daily shift meeting.  When it was over, I met the men of  'B' Shift.  Of course the B, I was informed, stands for Best...

The station itself was impressive. Built in 1945, it was originally manned by brothers and priests.  That pracitce continued on a part time basis until the early '90's.  Now it is occupied by 4 full time firefighters working 24 shifts for an average of 56 hours a week.

I was met by Asst Chief Tim Hoeppner then introduced to the rest of the shift.  Two of the firefighters, Mike and Rick, invited me to hop into their Engine 41 for a ride around the campus.  The Chief said if they recieved a call, just take me along.  I was hoping for a something to happen during the morning but unfortunately, nothing did.

I quickly discovered these Mike and Rick had keys to all the fun places.  Whenever we encountered a sign that read, 'Do Not Enter', or 'Restricted Area', we walked on through.  We started with a tour of the Main Building, also known as the Administrative Building.  It contains the signature gold dome that most people associate with Notre Dame.

The inside is quite impressive.  The halls are adorned with restored oil paintings and the walls and ceilings are all hand painted.  The wood doors, trim, and handmade wood paneling are beautiful..

This shot was taken up and under the area of the gold dome.  All of the work was done by hand. It was really impressive.

We moved on to the Stadium and took the elevator up to the media room and a couple of other VIP areas.  Recently remodeled, the stadium seats over 80,000.

The next stop was the Basilica.  As you may expect of a Catholic Univerisity it was unbelievably ornate.  As I stood outside and admired the steeple, Mike and Rick asked if I would like to climb to the top from the inside. We entered, and they unlocked the side door and we started up the narrow stairs.

As we climbed, the system of bells and strikers came into view and the stairs become more like rickety ladders.  For some reason I did not expect it to be all heavy timber construction but it was a complex system of beams and cross supports.  I kept going and got to the clock level where I noticed there was one motor with 4 different shafts that ran out the clock on each corner. 

As started down, I did not realize that the bells would ring on the half hour.  When the first one struck, I quickly put my fingers into my ears.  It wasn't one simple dong but a melody that lasted a couple of minutes.  It was great fun to watch all the strikers activate.

Mike and Rick toured me around Notre Dame for about three hours.  There were good guys, I really enjoyed the morning.

From there I drove back to the truck show and hooked up with my friends.  Lots of them drove their old iron from all parts of the country, including Kansas, Texas, Minnesota, and Washington State.  So you can see there are other knuckleheads who drive these things around the country.

Today, Saturday, I will make my way south to Kokomo, Indiana.  Tomorrow morning I need to be at Indianapolis Engine 17 at 6:30 am sharp to hook my ride to the Indianapolis 500.

No comments:

Post a Comment