Carrying the line
Family’s service to Marystown Fire Department spans three generations
MARYSTOWN, NL- Cornelsius (Corn) Green of Little Bay joined the Marystown Fire Volunteer Department around 1975. He continued to serve with the department for approximately 17 years.
“Then he started getting sick and (my) mother sort of talked him into retiring out of the fire department,” explained Leo Green, Corn’s son.
Leo recalls seeing his father going to the Monday night drills.
“Dad would never miss, not for nothing,” he said. “He’d work all day then he’d come home in the evening time, he’d go to the drills and everything like that, I used to come in sometimes when I was a little boy with him, just fooling around the fire hall.”
Leo said his father worked as a mechanic at a number of garages around Marystown, “but he always made time to come to the fire hall for drills, and he always had his pager on. Back then they had a little light on their fender used to flash back and forth.”
Leo said he believes that one of the first fires his father responded to as a part of the department was either the fire at the former church in Marystown, or the community wharf in Little Bay.
“I think there was a Murley’s building up in Creston North, that was a bad one that they had — he was on that one,” Leo recalled.
Last week marked the 50th anniversary of the Marystown Fire Department. During the event the department held a meet and greet for current and former members of the department.
Corn was among the past members there that night.
Leo noted his father has many friends within the community. On July 14, among all the current and past members of the department, former Marystown mayor Jerome Walsh spoke about his father.
“He said, ‘I hope nobody takes anything out of context what I am going to say,’ but he said ‘when I walked in here last night and I seen Corn Green here…it just made my day,’” Leo said.
Justin, the grandson of Corn, added that during the meet and greet he had a chance to experience the things his grandfather told him of his days with the department.
“You hear him talk about he done this in the fire department, he’s done that in the fire department, he’s made friends for life,” Justin said. “It really didn’t come out until Friday night, cause honestly he was the star of the show Friday night. People would come up to him — tell stories about what they done one time…”
The next generation
In the early 2000’s Corn’s son Leo made the decision to join the department.
“I used to think about it all the time, even when Dad was in there, but I was working all the time and couldn’t really put my mind into it,” said Leo, who also works as an electrician at the Canada Fluorspar Inc. mine in St. Lawrence. “Until one day I said to the wife, ‘I think I’m going to join.’”
Leo’s wife encouraged his decision to join the department. She had been after him for ages to become a member.
“It was 2008 when I joined, and I haven’t turned back since,” he said.
Leo enjoys being a member of the department.
“I like it,” he said. “Love all the guys here, everybody is good.
“We are always at something here — always busy with the community, there’s always something to be done here.”
In 2013, Leo’s son Justin also joined the department.
“I actually had no interest in it at first, when Dad first joined, because Dad was on the fire department before me probably five years before I joined,” Justin said.
“Dad came home one evening and told me that they were looking for firefighters and were looking for new applicants. I researched a little bit, and asked Dad some questions, thought about it (and said), ‘Ok, this is probably something I want to do’, so I came in and put in an application.”
A month later Justin was being trained as a member of the department.
“I guess seeing Dad take off out the door when the pager went off kind of got me going to a little bit,” he said.
Justin noted his interest in joining the department did not stem from wanting to be part of a line of firefighters in his family.
“To be honest, we had no idea about the third generation thing,” he said. “I didn’t join the department just because I was third generation. We didn’t have any inkling of it (until) one day Alex (Coady) said to us, ‘Your grandfather was on the fire department, your father is on the fire department- now you’re on the fire department’, so he did some research and this is the first time this has happened in our fire department.”
Justin said they didn’t make a big deal out of it.
“We’re not in it for publicity, we’re just in it to give back to the town,” he said.
Justin said during his initial interview it was mentioned that his father was a member of the department.
“I stopped the officers and said, ‘I am here as Justin, not as Leo’s son, so I want you to treat me like that and if you want to take me on, take me on — if not I respect that, but I don’t want you to take me on because of my last name.”
Justin, who works as an emergency medical responder, also credits his involvement with the department for his current career.
“It just so happened that me and a friend were out driving around one day, and we come across an accident,” explained Justin. “There was nobody else on the scene, I was only on (with the) department probably a month…by that time I didn’t have a lot of training, but I knew enough that I had to call the fire department —I had to call the ambulance and I had to help.”
Justin performed basic first aid until emergency personnel arrived at the scene.
“When the ambulance came — one of the medics on the ambulance was (with) the department at that time — they came to me after and said, ‘Our boss is interested in hiring some more emergency medical responders, would you be interested in doing the course if I told him about you?’- I said, ‘Yeah sure’ — that’s how I got my career.”
Three generations of the Green family have served with the Marystown Volunteer Fire Department. The line started with Corn Green, moving to his son Leo, and then to grandson Justin. Pictured (from left) are Justin Green, Corn Green and Leo Green