By Rosie Apparatus
1969 American Apparatus Pumper Truck
6 Cylinders - 1000 Cubic Inches of Sass - 4 Speed - Seats 20
First of all, I ain’t old ‘nuff to be retired. That’s what I told them folks at the firehouse anyways. They said to me, “Rosie, you’re older than erry body here, ‘cept the chief, and he ain’t went on a call since most of us was just a twinkle in our daddies’ eyes.” Of course I made a fuss, but it ain’t do no good.
Next thing I know I’m gettin’ all gussied up for some parade by a buncha ol’ men wearing those funny-lookin’ hats with the little tassels a hangin’ off ‘em. It was the silliest thing I ever saw, I tell you what. Caught my reflection in a storefront window during the procession, and I’ll be darned if them boys didn’t have me a shinin’ and lookin’ good as I ever did. Them Shriners in St. Louis is some pretty skilled folk.
That’s how it went for ol’ Rosie for quite a spell. I’d lay low in the garage a few months, get all shined up by the blue hair brigade, blow my sirens for the kids a linin’ the parade route, and then get tucked back beside Viola, my ’49 ladder truck roommate.
I was twenty years younger than ol’ Viola. She was a pretty thing, but she was pretty tired. Her red paint just didn’t have the shine it used to. Oh, but I’d’ve loved to see her in her heyday. Those curves! You shoulda seen the way them ol’ Shriners polished on them fenders o’ hers. Watch those hands, ya fez-wearin’ horn-dogs!
Anyhow, Viola and I got to be good friends over the years. I missed the action of answerin’ alarms and goin’ out on calls, but spendin’ time with Viola and puttin’ smiles on the faces of all them children watchin’ the parades made retirement tolerable.
One day, when I was a dozin’ away as usual, the garage door flies open. After a spell, when my eyes get adjusted to the sunlight, I see this goofy-lookin’ boy a gawkin’ at me. Has the dopiest grin I ever saw painted across his silly mug. You’d a thought he was takin’ some o’ them happy pills or something’. He looks me up and down, from headlight to tailpipe, and the next thing I know, I’m a rollin’ down the road, ol’ Viola gettin’ smaller and smaller in my rear-view mirror.
The drive from St. Louis, the only home I ever knew, dragged on forever. I saw a sign that said, “Welcome to Columbia.” Oh, Lord, I thought. They took me to Illinois! “Sweet baby Jesus,” I shouted to Heaven, “not Illinois!” On the bright side, I thought, at least it wasn’t Kansas.
My prayers were answered. I pulled into a driveway in Columbia, Missouri, where that goofy lookin’ boy says to me, “Welcome home, Rosie.”
Russell’s a nice kid. He takes good care of me. Shines me up and drives me around town all the time and loves to toot my horns, I don’t mind it much when he does, it’s fun to watch the people jump. He even slapped a couple stickers on me to advertise his business, but I don’t mind. He’s happy showin’ me off to his friends, and I have to admit I like it when he fusses over me.
One time, he took his daughter Ella and her friends for a ride in the back, while we drove ‘em to the Hickman Homecoming with my sirens a blarin’. It was great fun, and pretty sweet.
I’m still hopin’ he’ll let me work one last fire, but until then, I reckon I can help him spread the word about his business. Sellin’ houses is better than watchin’ ‘em burn, that’s for sure. Maybe I’ll see you ‘round town one o’ these days. Russell says to take my picture and be sure to use the hashtag #ShowMeRosie and my favorite #SassyRosie if you spot me (whatever that means). Says you might even win a free t-shirt if you do.