NORWICH — Members of the Maydole Hose Company visited Mount Hope Cemetery and St. Paul’s Cemetery on Saturday to honor past members by replacing American flags that mark their graves.
“We go and refurbish, take the old flags out, and then we always put new flags in. Always. And then repair any of the markers or change them, and we do it here [at Mount Hope Cemetery] and up at Saint Paul’s,” said Maydole Hose Co. President Pat Ford. “Then we have some members that take flags with them that have relatives or something that might be in Mount Upton cemetery or wherever. So that’s basically what we do.”
The Maydole Hose Co. is one of four volunteer fire companies in Norwich, and was formed in 1887 by employees of the David Maydole Hammer Factory. 2022 marks the Maydole Hose Co.’s 135th year, and Ford said the company has been tending to the graves of former members since their inception.
Maydole Hose Co. Treasurer Mike Powell said members of the company, and occasionally their family members, visit the cemeteries every single year to replace the flags.
“It’s just a show of respect to everything they did,” he said.
This weekend, they replaced 90 flags in total, and eight metal grave markers. Ford said the process is made easier thanks to the efforts of Maydole Hose Co. member Jim Williams.
“We had a member, Jim Williams, come down and he took the books and went way back, because a lot of them we were missing, and he mapped them all out for us. It was a lot of work, so he came down and took care of it,” said Ford. “We do it by sections. So like Mike [Powell] will do this section, and somebody else on that section. We just wander around.”
The Maydole Hose Company also makes an effort to give back to the community. Each year they host a children’s Easter egg hunt in East and West Park, and Powell said they make donations to the Norwich Junior Football League, the Norwich High School SADD chapter for their after-prom party, and a volunteer firemen’s retirement home.
Ford said they also make an annual donation to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which provides housing to veterans, first responders, and their families.
The group plans to continue their efforts to honor and remember their past members, carrying on the tradition of caring for their fellow firefighters.
“The fire department and the firemen themselves have a tradition of helping each other, and a lot of these people, we saw them all through their sickness and everything when they got sick, and helped their families. It’s just a continuation of our taking care of each other,” Ford explained. “You see these, you go by them, and you think of all the memories you had with this individual … A lot of the families aren’t around here anymore, so there’s nobody here to take care of the graves.”
“We’re here, we’re going to do it. As long as I’m around, we’re going to do it,” he added. “It’s just the right thing to do.”