The Bronx is burning  

Posted by Cat in the road in

At the height of a turbulent era for NYC during the ’70's I was lucky (or) unlucky enough to be working in the South Bronx. At the time disco was at its peak and Boom Boxes were the rage. All the local shops up and down Southern Blvd had 6 foot high speakers blaring, one louder than the other to draw customers. This period was also infamous because, "the Bronx was burning.”

By that I mean landlords were hiring arsonists to torch their vacant buildings for the insurance. You never knew if the building you were walking into was on the list that particular day. It made life interesting to say the least. Engine 82 was one of the busiest fire houses of the FDNY. It was also made famous by a former member of the company, Dennis Smith, who authored 'Report from Engine Company 82'. This book highlighted the war years of the Bronx.

While rummaging through some old photos I came across these lost glossies and memories came swarming back. Ah the good old days. On one particularly balmy summer’s day I was sent to a job on the Blvd. While climbing the steps my partner came running out yelling, “It’s a bomb.” Sometimes these pyrotechnical nuts were actually courteous enough to call in a warning before the fun began.

Fire trucks appeared in no time and the street was closed off to traffic in a matter of minutes. Here’s the part that really sticks with me, as these bastions of bravery donned their bunker gear one of the shops just happened to play, ‘Disco Inferno’ by The Trammps. As firemen gathered their gear and ran hose lines the local residents spontaneously broke out into a street party.

Imagine if you will, fire trucks scattered up and down the street, firemen running in all different directions, red lights flashing, people dancing and smoke belching from boarded up 6 story walk ups…all to a deafening disco beat. Now the song 'Disco Inferno' by The Trammps was never intended to be a rally cry for destruction, but it’s ironic how coincidences work. It’s amazing how I can look back and see the black humor in all of it today. For me it's a walk down memory lane, bazaar as it may seem.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at Wednesday, April 14, 2010 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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