New museum opens, dedicated to Leroy Calhoun

HARRINGTON — The late Leroy Calhoun once again plays a key role in archiving the history of the Harrington Fire Company.

His wife, Doris, was at the fire hall last week for the ladies auxiliary annual appreciation dinner when she found out the company’s new small museum would be dedicated in Mr. Calhoun’s memory.

“I just stepped down after 16 years as the president. I kind of wondered why they were all there, but all three of my daughters and my daughter-in-law were there as a part of the auxiliary and each of them could bring a guest. It is something I’ll never forget,” she said.

“Just to think that they thought enough of him to dedicate this to his memory, it’s just surreal.”

Mr. Calhoun held various handyman-type jobs, working primarily on televisions and ATM machines, according to his wife. He also spent time in the Air Force working in communications and eventually became an instructor.

Doug Poore and Rob Taylor say Mr. Calhoun was a bit of a photographer, as well.

Doris Calhoun admires a painting of her late husband, Leroy Calhoun, and his trusted puppet Sparky at the dedication of the Leroy Calhoun Archives Room inside the Harrington Fire Company last week. Special to The Journal

During his time with the Harrington Fire Company, he took more than 30,000 photographs, although the exact number remains unknown.

“He was always taking pictures,” Ms. Calhoun said. “If he was working in Rehoboth, he would stop and take pictures at a reception or whatever was going on around him.”

A painting of Mr. Calhoun now hangs inside the newly dedicated Leroy Calhoun Archives Room located inside the Harrington Fire Company. Joining him in the painting is Sparky, an old-friend to many in the community.

Sparky, a puppet, went with the honoree nearly everywhere he went to promote fire prevention tips to youngsters in schools, daycares and anyone else they could be found, Ms. Calhoun said.

He had to add on to his puppet collection as the years went on. Two of his puppets can be found in the archives room thanks to donations from the Calhoun family. Sparky, himself, may soon be added as well and hung just below their painting.

Donations, Mr. Poore said, make up most of the archives room and more would be welcomed with open arms.

“We just would love to display our history,” he said, adding that the Harrington Fire Company is already looking to expand the room to make space for more donations.

“This was a coat room. But we only used it for storage. So we asked the board, twice, and finally began working on the archives room,” he said. “But it literally started with a phone call and they said, ‘We think we found your truck.’

The old fire apparatus was found around 2012 by the Hart family in Virginia and restored. It has since visited its old fire company numerous times, bringing the Hart’s with it in full Harrington firefighter regalia recreated to look identical to pieces now found in the Leroy Calhoun Archives Room.

“Our friendship sparked an interest to learn our history. And it just kept getting more and more interesting,” Mr. Poore said.

The interest also created a connection between the Harrington Fire Company and the Harrington Museum which has since offered assistance and advice to the new archivists. The Delaware Public Archives has also expressed their interest in listing the project in its lists of local places to visit.

What’s inside?

A list of the first ambulance squad in Harrington rests inside a glass display in the new Leroy Calhoun Archives Room. Instead of calling 911 in the case of an emergency, residents would dial the three-digit numbers of squad members until they reached someone who could come out and help.

Nearby, antique coveralls can be found on mannequins, just as they may have been seen on firefighters in Harrington years ago.

A ladies’ auxiliary display is nearby, showing off just over 85 years of service to the men and women who risked their lives to save others.

On the other side of the room, official marching attire dresses up more mannequins while trophies dress up the walls.

And just outside the doors to the room rests a shelf to be decorated with photos of members lost each year in remembrance of their service to the company.

To find items to fill the room, Mr. Poore, Mr. Taylor and others dug through storage in filing cabinets, sheds and anywhere else they thought good items might be hidden.

“We leaned on the historical society for how to display this and that and did a lot of putting things together ourselves because of our budget,” Mr. Poore added.

Ms. Calhoun said she hopes the archives shows where the fire company came from and what they’re trying to accomplish daily.

“A lot of people don’t think about it. They just throw stuff away. At least now they have a place to take it,” she said.

Calls regarding donations can be directed to Mr. Taylor at 302-222-4969 or Mr. Poore at 302-670-6158.

 

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