Alexander Thomas McDonald, Fireman

August 7, 2010

Keith had pictures in his photo collection of his Uncle Alexander, younger brother to his father Ronald.  Alex was in a uniform in two of them.     

Alexander in Uniform

This photo (above) was a puzzle.  I didn’t know what the uniform represented.  I was to learn from a cousin that Alex was a fireman with the International Falls fire department in the early years.  Alex is the one in the middle.  I do not know the names of the two men that are on either side of him.  The photo was taken on main street in International Falls and when I was there I scouted out the location.  Some signs are still there and you can see about where they stood.    

Alex with Keith on His Knee

In this 2nd photo, Uncle Alex is seated with two children on his knees.  He and the other man are in the same uniforms.  The one on the left knee is Keith, Alex’s nephew, and the little girl on the right is unknown.  The little boy standing to Alex’s left and the man standing behind him in uniform are also unknown.    

This is one of my favorite photos of my father Keith when he was a child.  He would have loved the fire house, the horses and all the activity like the parades and visiting with his Uncle at his work.   

Mary, Alex’s niece, knew him very well and describes his work as a fireman. She told me this story back in 2000 when I visited her and her family in International Falls:    

 “Alex was a fireman and he lived at the fire station. This was back in the days when they used horses to draw the fire truck. The horses were so well-trained that when the fire whistle blew they would go stand ready to receive the harnesses that just seemed to fall in place on them. The fire house had two big doors out front and behind that was an area for the stalls to keep the horses in and then behind that were bunk beds where the men would take turns sleeping. The firehouse is up from the Ace Hardware store in International Falls. It is now a converted apartment house and has aluminum siding on it. His fellow firemen were Bill Keenan and Bert Budde. If I can remember there were two teams of horses.”   

Alex also participated in the 1910 Fireman’s convention and again in 1917 he participated in the Fireman’s Line Up and Parade in International Falls.   

I learned a lot about my grandfather’s family through the stories told by my cousin Mary and her family back in 2000 and again in 2001.  I am very grateful for the time I spent with them.


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