Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sentiment for Sale

I habitually search E-Bay for items that are connected to the fire department of my career and also other organizations that I have been associated with. Rarely do I find anything of note, however upon occasion, I do find something worth bidding on. 

I was quite surprised the other day to find a series of artifacts from the sixties and seventies that originated from my agency, items that were likely of great importance to those to whom they were issued. I recognized the name associated with some of those items, a man who I never met, but one who was known by some of the older guys I used to work with.

This man was a Battalion Chief, one of the old-old school. I had heard stories of this guy, some good, some not. Understand that some of the practices of the old-old school would not stand up to the ethical standards of today. Battalion Chiefs were almost god, their decisions were usually final. Politics helped some promote, helped some keep their job, and frankly, allowed some of the old old school guys get away with murder.

Even though that's the way it was, it doesn't mean that's the way that it should have been. The guys, not unlike the proverbial elephant, never forget.

I don't know the particulars of this man's career. I suspect that like many officers, this man would likely get mixed reviews. Some probably liked him, some were likely ambivalent. Some probably harbored an intense dislike of this man, either from deeds done directly to them, or deeds done to others.

Of the items on E-Bay, I have no doubt that some of them were issued to the former Battalion Chief. Some of them I am not so sure, the numbers don't quite add up.  Frankly, it would not surprise me if some of the items were pilfered from the department, after it was mandated that they be turned in. Turned in by people who really cared about them, people with an emotional attachment to them. Sadly, this appears to have been a not too uncommon practice back in the day. Force the troops to turn something in, then cherry-pick the items for ones own use.

Regardless, the former Battalion Chief had enough attachment to all of the items to keep them for a long, long time. I believe him to be dead now, probably for at least ten years. Now, what he held onto for sentimental reasons, are merely collectables for sale on E-Bay. 

I am very lucky, I have almost every badge that I have been issued. I paid for every one, well almost every one. When I croak, my kids will probably divide them up and hold on to them for a while. When my kids croak or get tired of looking at them, my badges will end up in an antiques store or on E-Bay. When they do, I hope they bring top-dollar, I worked my ass off to get them. Though they mean a lot to me, to others their only value is what they bring at auction.

So, if any of you young pups are browsing E-Bay in 40 or so years and you come across some badges from the K.B.F.P.D, check to see if the name "Schmoe" is engraved on them. If so, bid high, my heirs will appreciate it.

Thanks for reading,


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