Music is one of the great joys in my life. Whether I am listening to the radio, playing a CD, or playing my tuba, music has an impact on my life. If you think about it, music has an impact on all of our lives. It can create moods and it can highlight memories.
You can literally change a person's mood with music. When I am feeling tired and low, I turn on some spirited circus music or some classic march music. My favorites are Sousa, R.B. Hall, Karl King, and Henry Fillmore. However, there is another type of music that also floats my boat when the mood is right. I am referring to the classic ballads of Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles. These men had a special way with music. They could put more feeling into the words of their songs than any ten other folks. I was thinking about Ray Charles the other day as I winged my way to Atlanta, Georgia for the Firehouse Central Expo.
It was my good fortune to be invited to visit a small volunteer fire department located about half way between Atlanta and Macon. The name of the community was Flovilla and the hospitality they showed me was truly the epitome good old Southern Hospitality. These dedicated volunteers protect a community of some 600 citizens. Their ranks are not that great, but their spirit and dedication are splendid indeed.
I was invited by Chief Glenn Williams, who has been in command for the department for more than 25 years. He dispatched Joey Buchanan to pick me up at the Atlanta International Airport. Joey brought his daughter Hailey along for the ride. A nicer and more well-behaved child would be hard to find. The traffic was fairly heavy, but the ride passed well. Their station is fairly new and is part of a fairly new municipal complex. The fire department is on one side and the local municipal meeting room is on the other. The offices of local government are sandwiched between the two other parts.
Before we sat down to supper, I toured the community and then reviewed the apparatus fleet. They have been most fortunate in getting FIRE Act grants to help them bring in some much-needed equipment. I was particularly fond of their mobile breathing apparatus unit. It is a trailer with an on-board compressor, a large band of cylinders and the necessary equipment to allow them to serve as a rehab/recharge station. This unit was acquired with money from the 2008 Fire Act award period.
Their success in the world of fund-raising has not been limited to the FIRE Act. They pooled their efforts with their neighbors in the Jackson Fire Department to raise funds for a Surrey Fire Safety House. The many local sponsors are listed on the side of the unit. The Flovilla department also recently took delivery of a Polaris Ranger All-Terrain Vehicle. They received it from the Smokeless Tobacco Company, as part of their annual grant program.
Let me share a little fact about the relationship between Flovilla and Jackson. It just happens that Harvey Norris, the Fire Chief in Jackson, is the Mayor of Flovilla. Now there is a great combination. I got to meet him over the barbeque supper at the Flovilla station. He has a good handle on the way things should be.
After supper the Flovilla and Jackson Fire Departments were kind enough to present me with patches for my collection. I also got an anniversary mug. Then these kindly folks did something which caught me completely by surprise. Chief Williams presented a $100 Walmart Gift card to me. I was stunned to say the least.
He wanted it known that the Flovilla Fire Department was a solid supporter of my 2010 Road Trip to the West. I thanked them for their kindness and assured them that I would not forget them when Jack Peltier, Ken McMahon and I hit the road next June. I do not think that I will ever be able to listen to "Georgia on my Mind" without thinking of the gang in Flovilla and Jackson.