When any organization is formed, sooner or later, social gatherings for camaraderie and “R & R” are planned. The firemen looked outside their ranks for help in this area.
Needless to say, they didn’t have to look too far from home: the honor fell to the “domestic engineers of the time”, “their better halves”, “and their biggest supporters”: their wives.
In 1957, three years into the formation of the fire company, there was the establishment of an auxiliary. According to Margaret Eriksen, of Homewood Park and a charter member, the auxiliary’s name was to be the I-C VEEs ~~~ VEEs for Volunteers!
Charter/early members were: Margaret Eriksen, Becky Simons, Edna Garrison, Betty Fritz, Bea Pratt and Colleen Jennings (who also served as one of the first FD Board of Directors). The VEEs wrote: “Our purpose in organizing is to have available a trained group for any emergency that may arise as well as to plan a few social get-togethers just for fun and, we’ll have to organize a few money making get-togethers also.”
Their mission was to be a support group for the firemen. They were not trained to be firemen, nor were they “invited” to attend fire department meetings; however, they did receive minimal basic instruction on the correct way to handle the limited existing firefighting equipment in their own meetings. They were issued white coveralls with I-C VEEs printed on the back. They were expected to drive fire trucks and assist at fires and accidents. Their help was needed primarily during the day when most of the men were at work.
They directed traffic routinely, helped with completion of area maps, became trained Red Cross First Aiders and worked in liaison with the Civil Defense when required. In addition, they were called on to organize fund raising projects and social activities for the members. The FD meeting minutes of August 7, 1958 read: “Historian function should be active. Try to pass the buck to the I-C VEEs.” It worked, since that time the VEEs have been the Historians of the Inter-Canyon Fire Department. An early chief of the department affectionately referred to the VEEs as the fire department “Call Girls”. This denoted their role as dispatchers. It meant that they formed a phone chain to notify one another and the firemen of emergency calls – fire and rescue.
They continued in this role until the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office took over this job and plectrons (electronic one/way box radios) were issued. Fund raising has been a primary function of the VEEs from the beginning. In 1958 they sold vanilla and black pepper to buy a dripolater (coffee pot) for the firehouse. In 1960 pastel colored fire extinguishers were sold. They have sold cook books and calendars; worked together with the Forest Service on an informational booklet and took charge of disseminating it; annually organize a flea market; hold raffles for everything from crocheted table doilies and afghans to local renowned artist Ken Balls’ bronze of a bison. They have made “teddy bears” to be carried in the ambulances for the young victims of accident or illness who are treated by the Inter-Canyon Fire Protection District.
The “Echo” – an informative flyer in which donations are solicited is put together and sent out to all residents of the Inter-Canyon district yearly. As one of their initial mandates, as the department auxiliary, the VEEs continue to promote fire safety and accident awareness through this publication. The VEEs have donated monies from their fund raising efforts to the I-C Fire Department yearly.
Another function of the VEEs has been to organize socials for department and community members. Initially, quarterly social functions were planned: The first dances were held in district at the old Tiny Town Bar & Dancehall (the current parking lot for Tiny Town); then moved up to Sky Village for many years. As the bar was expanded and the dance floor eliminated at The Elusive Wapiti (Sky Village was the 1st of many of its names) it became harder to find a location for the annual dance. The original Sky Village was torn down and replaced by Pokey’s gas/convenience store on Hwy. 285 in 1999/2000. In the 1980’s with no “dancehall” available in the I-C District the dance was held at the Woodside Inn (past Schaffer’s Crossing on HWY 285) one year. They even tried an old fashioned “barn dance” at Firehouse #3 on HWY 285 during the ’80s. There followed a few years that were “dance-less” for lack of a facility.
Six years ago the Annual Fireman’s Ball was resurrected and held for two years at the Geneva Glen Camp in Indian Hills and other neighboring departments were invited. In 1998 it was changed to the Bailey Farmers Union in Bailey, Colorado. It is now a celebration of all the volunteers who serve in the surrounding and neighboring fire departments as well as our own and provides an opportunity for the members of each to spend a fun evening out together. I-C VEEs continues to be the sponsor and host of the fun event.
The VEEs hostess the annual Holiday party for the department members at Station #1 which includes a wonderful potluck dinner, Santa, fun fellowship and gift exchange.
Throughout the years the VEEs have hosted other activities: receptions for funerals, weddings, anniversaries and other special events; chili dinners; participation in the FD Open House; 285 corridor festivals and craft shows; often displaying the department mementos and scrapbooks gathered by the Historian and submission of articles for the local newspaper.
Making and selling ice cream sandwiches and cold drinks is not new to this group. Car demolition has been one of their successful offerings as a booth and fundraiser at a local community event.
In 2000 the VEEs sponsored a quilt show for the community at the Samson Club in lower Deer Creek Canyon. The Mountain Mavericks, an award winning quilting group in the foothills, provided the quilt show. The VEEs provide refreshments, food and drink, to the department members during extended emergencies and/or training exercises.
In the beginning years the VEEs members would coordinate and cook homemade hot meals in their homes and then take them to the firefighters. Many, many sack lunches, assembled in members’ homes, have been delivered to hungry members along with hot and cold drinks. Most notable was at the onset of the Murphy Gulch fire in Deer Creek Canyon in 1979 – many hundreds of volunteers were fed and hydrated by the VEEs.
In the 1980s, after the second floor meeting room and kitchen were added on to the old FH#1, the cooking and distribution was done from the firehouse. More recently, with women working outside their homes, prepared food is purchased and delivered to the site of the emergency or training. “Nutritious snacks” packaged and portable are made available to firefighters and carried on department vehicles.
In 1997 the VEEs took on the Fire House #1 Garden Project. The leach field in front of the main firehouse has for years been a tangle of weeds and an eyesore to all. The VEEs planned, executed and funded a lovely garden that has garnered many compliments from the community. The VEEs maintain the landscaped area.
The Inter-Canyon sign with Smokey the Bear and bulletin board identifying the fire station was purchased with funds from the VEEs. In early 2000, at the request of the fire chief, membership to the I-C VEEs Auxiliary was opened to anyone 10 years of age and older including boys and men. The young people are called the I-C VEEs Youth.
At present there are twenty-three members. The $5.00 dues have remained the same for many years. The monthly meetings have traditionally been the third Tuesday of each month. Meetings are held at ICFPD Station #3.
The women have formed close working relationships and lifelong friendships. Fifty-three years of commitment behind the VEEs with many years and projects of support for the Inter-Canyon Fire Protection District lying ahead.
With the approval of the Fire Chief and Board of Directors, the Inter-Canyon Patrol was established in 1960. It’s members (David Simons, Joe Meyer, Gary Krook, Ed Fender and others) were youths who were not old enough to become firemen, but who could help with other Fire Department needs. They were assigned the same green Fire Department jumpsuits worn by firemen with “Inter Canyon Fire Department” on the back. Ed still has his jumpsuit, in remarkably good condition for a 50+ year old garment. He recalls the most memorable event for the Inter-Canyon Patrol as being a successful fundraiser for the Fire Department. “The field across the street from the Fire Department was rocky but relatively flat so we organized a donkey softball game between the Patrol members and the firemen. There were lots of donkeys around in those days so the fielders had to bring the donkey with them to pick up the ball and throw it. The runners had to take the donkey around the bases with them. I don’t recall many runs being scored but we had fun and raised money for Fire Department equipment.” The Patrol program ended in 2014.
Originally compiled & Written by Kathi Lax, I-C VEE July 2001, Revised and updated June 2010 by Kelley Cross and Ed Fender. Much thanks to Mr. Fender for providing lots of great historical information. His Memoir “The Legend of Fender’s Garage” will be available this July and he has generously donated some of the proceeds to ICFR, please call for more info. We also acknowledge information from the book Mountain Memories, excerpt written by Ms. Lila Kint. Updated Sept 2017 by Kelley Wood
“Laughter is the distance between two people.” ~Victor Borge~