Robert Emrick – My Grandfather

Back before many of the prominent businessmen moved to Leeds, the town was considered “the sticks” and had very little fire protection. When a disastrous fire broke out on East Center Street in 1923 my grandfather started a movement in Northampton to get the first motorized fire pump called “The Seagrave” and an additional six fireboxes installed in Leeds. This is also what got him started in politics. He was on the Common Council in 1924 and then Board of Alderman in 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928 and then as an independent 1934 and 1935. I listed every year because back then you had to run for office every year. He was as honest as they come and very tight about spending money foolishly, which doesn’t sound like a politician. I heard rumors that both parties wanted him to run for Mayor, but “Fighting City Hall” took it’s toll on him and my grandmother. She said, no way was he to be Mayor.  But that didn’t stop my grandfather from continuing to speak his mind. He wrote numerous letters to the editor of the newspaper and voiced his opinion if he thought something wasn’t right.

Boys Scouts were fairly new back in my grandfather’s day. He organized Troop 108 and was it’s scoutmaster for 8 years. There was also the Young Men’s Club back in 1919. When the Leeds Civic Association started around 1933, my grandfather was the first president. One side story, (and I heard this from someone reliable)  was that my grandfather had to quit school at the age of 14 to go to work, but finished high school thru the mail. He then took up mechanical drawing thru an international correspondence school, so when they were putting the sewer in many years ago , my grandfather submitted a plan. Since he didn’t have a college education they took someone else’s plan and that system didn’t work well and many years later when they reconfigured it, they basically did what my grandfather had said years before. My grandfather did many things for his village of Leeds. Talk to any of our older residents (75+) who lived in Leeds back then…
I think most will be able to tell you stories of him.

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