Guterson lived and breathed Fire Department
Mary says her father lived and breathed the fire department and the Elks Hall. When he wasn’t home or at the fire hall he was at the Elks Club. Mary still has all three phone numbers memorized.
His son Billy served at the fire hall after the War, and Adolf also joined when he finished his schooling.
On New Year’s Day, 1937 fire stuck his own home. He came home and smelled smoke. Mary says her sister Patsy was snooping in the attic using matches. The only things that were saved were the dirt basement and an old Heintzman piano.
“We had to go and live in the old nurse’s residence by the old hospital,” she said.
Mary’s mother died in 1943, Mary was 9 and there were still six children at home.
At 17 Mary began working at the Alberta Government Telephones and worked her way up to being chief telephone operator. While more than a half-century removed from the photo of the Napier fire in 1951, she remembers it like it was yesterday.
“The big call came in December, The Napier Theatre was on fire. I had to call my dad immediately because he had the fire phone in his bedroom,” she recalls. “The call came in at 5 a.m. was working nights.”
She saw the fire and her dad in front of the theatre as she walked home.
“He was beside himself because that theatre had been burning for a long time.”
She said at that time you could smoke upstairs in the balcony of the theatre while sitting on the horsehair seats. It appears someone put their cigarette out, and the fire had been smoldering for a long time before the alarm came in.
At home, she saw Adolf, and she asked him to I stop and have a cup of coffee, he said there was no time and went to fight the fire.
“He went back and the wall fell right in front of my dad,” she said,
She received a call at home that her brother was injured. She ran to the scene and they were loading Adolf into Allard’s Taxi.
“I was beside myself because I thought it was my dad,” she said. “I never thought it would be Adolf, but then I saw my dad directing everybody and watching his son getting hauled to the hospital.”
Adolf was taken to Edmonton for medical attention. the family went to Edmonton on the train to see Adolf. It took 9 hours. Adolf passed away on December 16, 1951.
Mary, as was the home at 22.
Bill continued to serve as Fire Chief until 1961 and was the longest-serving volunteer Fire Chief in the country. He died in 1967, and the youngest last to leave Mary still comes to Drumheller to take care of her mother and father’s graves at the Drumheller Cemetery.
Mary has nothing but fond memories of her father and says he was kind to everyone, especially newcomers who he shared the immigrant experience with.
Mary will also be in town for the Drumheller Fire Department’s centennial celebration on October 19. The Guterson family will also be holding a reunion over the weekend.