The Year is 1951 . . . What Do Peacocks, Snow and the Berwyn Fire Company Have in Common?

The Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society has digitized copies of their Historical Quarterly available online for the public.  I read a cute article by Bob Goshorn (Anyone remember him?  Bob was a local history expert and president of  TEHS for many years).  Bob’s article was about peacocks and the Berwyn Fire Company — I thought with the Berwyn Fire Company in the news of late, that you might enjoy this story from 1951, as written in 1982 by Bob Goshorn.

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Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
History Quarterly Digital Archives

Source: January 1982 Volume 20 Number 1, Pages 27–28

 When the Berwyn Fire Company Rescued Six Peacocks

Bob Goshorn

Page 27

Fire companies traditionally have been called upon to rescue cats or other animals from tree tops – but peacocks?

It happened some three decades ago, in early 1951. It was a cold, winter night, with more than a foot of snow on the ground. Six peacocks, owned by Clarence Johnson who lived on Pugh Road, near Valley Forge Road in Tredyffrin Township, had escaped from their pen and flown into a nearby tree. After alternately attempting to cajole and frighten them down from their perches, with equal lack of success, their anxious owner, realizing that the birds would freeze to death if left out overnight, called the fire company for help.

The volunteers soon arrived on the scene, in their ladder truck, a 1934 American LaFrance fire engine with 50-foot ladders. Placing a ladder against the branches of the tree, the firemen climbed up to rescue and recapture the birds. But just as they were about to reach them, the peacocks noisily flew off to another tree.

Another ladder was put up aside the second tree. It was the hope of the firemen that they would either reach the birds in their new roostor chase them back again to the first tree. Instead, as the firemen were once again just about to reach their quarry, the birds flew off, to a third tree!

Page 28

“It looked like the only way we could recapture them,” Frank Kelley, the assistant Fire Chief in charge of the operation, later recalled, “would be to cut down all the trees!” But then he had another idea. Checking to be sure that his plan would not harm the birds – and that blankets were available – he decided to try to “flush” them out.

At his suggestion, a booster line was hooked up to the fire truck and taken into a nearby tree. From there, using a fine spray, the firemen doused the peacocks with water. In the cold weather, after about a half hour or so the water froze on the peacocks feathers. The birds were thus virtually immobilized.

When the firemen again climbed their ladders to reach them, the frozen peacocks, unable to fly, succeeded only in toppling over and falling down into the soft snow below. There they were easily picked up, wrapped in blankets, put into baskets, and returned to their grateful owner.

Johnson then placed them next to the furnace in the basement. The ice on the peacocks melted and the birds were carefully thawed out and none the worse for wear, despite their experience – when the Berwyn Fire Company rescued six peacocks from their perches in a tree.

Historic Winter of 1777 — Experience a Soldier’s Story

For those that know me, you know that I am passionate about remembering Tredyffrin’s history and  the preservation of our historic properties.  Tredyffrin residents are fortunate to live in such a historic place and I encourage you and your families to take advantage of a very special experience this upcoming weekend.  Members of the 6th Pennsylvania Regiment re-enactment group, local authors, park rangers and others will commemorate the Continental Army’s historic winter of 1777 march-in to its Valley Forge encampment site on Saturday, December 19, 6-8 PM at the Valley Forge National Historic Park. The park rangers and volunteers will be dressed in period-costume and will ceremoniously march attendees from the Visitor Center one-quarter mile to the Muhlenberg Brigade area. There, around reconstructed huts on the ground where the original 6th Pennsylvania Regiment stayed 232 years ago, regimental re-enactors will share stories of soldier life during the encampment. At the Visitor Center, artist Michael Ticcino of Audubon and Schuylkill River Heritage Area co-authors Kurt Zwikl and Laura Catalano will sign books. Ticcino’s coffee-table book, “Valley Forge: Traditional Land, Contemporary Vision,” is a collection of beautiful photographic imagery of the park. Zwikl and Catalano penned “Along the Schuylkill River” to document the river’s history, moniker as the “River of Revolutions” and boundary along the Valley Forge encampment site.

At the Visitor Center a George Washington interpreter will interact with guests and the Colonial Revelers will perform period holiday songs. Refreshments will be served and the Encampment Store will be open for holiday shopping. The event is free and open to the public.   Hope that you will plan to attend and share some local history!