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BY MIKE AVITT
This week’s photo appears on the front page of the July 28, 1960 Mount Ayr Record-News. The 1948 Cadillac hearse had been converted into a rescue unit with the donated services of Shafer’s Service Station, Ames Cross Garage, Underwood Auto Parts, Fennema Implement, Roe Implement, Jim Burge, Lester Grindstaff, and Howard Paist.
The vehicle was gifted to the Mount Ayr Volunteer Fire Department by Paul Varner of Varner-Crew Funeral Home in Clearfield. The rescue unit had been painted white and was now equipped with a resuscitator, oxygen mask, gas mask, and fire fighting equipment. Thanks to Lora Stull for allowing me to scan this picture.
Did you know ambulance service in Ringgold County used to be handled by funeral homes? It’s true. In January 1977, LBanks Wilson of Rhoades-Wilson Funeral Home turned over his ambulance service to the Ringgold County Hospital. RCH Administrator Jim Luft had purchased a vehicle in October 1976 for $20,000 from the Modular Ambulance Company. The new ambulance had a capacity of four patients and came equipped with a Citizens Band radio. The cost of the ambulance service at this time was $35. If the call came from outside the county, a fee of one dollar per mile would be added. Remember, Worth County, Missouri and Taylor County, Iowa do not have hospitals. Callers were encouraged to give specific details as to the location of the needed service. Rural roads didn’t have names back then, nor did rural houses have numbers.
In this week’s picture, the fire station is seen at 200 S. Taylor. City Hall is on the left and the Ford garage is on the right. The fire department had moved here in 1901 and the department got a concrete floor in 1940, the same year city hall was remodeled. The Mount Ayr Volunteer Fire Department moved to their new building at 201 E. Madison in 1968.
In May 1969, Bob Sickels was elected chief of the department. In September 1969, the fire department got a new fire truck. Coincidence? I don’t think so.