Lester
R.
Anderson


LESTER R. ANDERSON born on March 13, 1901. He was the son of William and Mary Anderson. William Anderson worked as a boilermaker at one of the shipyards in Camden, the largest of which belonged to the New York Shipbuilding Corporation. Lester Anderson was a fraternal twin, his sister's name was Katie. There were five older siblings in the family, Charles, Hazel, Adeline, William, and John S. Anderson. The Anderson lived at 644 Ferry Avenue as early as 1906 and as late as 1910. By 1914 the family had moved to 1618 South 6th Street, and to 1644 South 6th Street by June if 1917, when older  brother William Jr. registered for the draft. The Andersons were sill at that address when the census was taken in 1920.  1644 South 6th Street was 

not far from the Rocco Venella family, of 1824 Van Buren Street. Katie Anderson soon married Rocco's son, Edmund Anthony Venella. By 1924 Lester Anderson had married and became a Camden fire fighter. He and his wife Marie lived at 337 Point Street in 1924. By 1927 they had moved to 56 Penn Street. Older brother John S. Anderson joined the fire department in 1928. Lester and Marie Anderson lived at 3054 Kearsarge Road in the Fairview section of Camden when the 1929 City Directory was compiled. Fire Department records from 1931 show them living at 3124 Ironsides Road, and also indicate a subsequent move to 2771 Constitution Road.

Family history states that after fighting a fire he went to bed and never woke up, dying of a heart attack at the age of 38. He was buried at Calvary Cemetery in Delaware Township (present-day Cherry Hill), New Jersey on October 10, 1939. Lester Anderson was survived by his widow and two children, Marie Julia and Lester Ryan Anderson. The 1947 Camden City Directory shows them living at 1066 Ironsides Road in Fairview. 


The Anderson Twins
Lester Anderson and Kathryn "Katie" Anderson
outside the home in Fairview. 

Katie Anderson married Edmund Venella Sr. Their son, Edmund A. Venella Jr., served in the United States Army Air Force during World War II


Camden Evening Courier - July 27, 1925

FOUR FIREMEN ARE TRAPPED IN COLLAPSE OF BRICK WALL
FLAMES SWEEP WAREHOUSE IN SOUTH CAMDEN
Fire Fighters are Rescued From Beneath Heaps of Hot Bricks
BURNING TIRES SEND UP CLOUDS OF DENSE SMOKE
Bantivoglio Junk Yard Destroyed- Loss Runs Into Thousands

Four firemen were buried under a falling brick wall, two of them believed to have been seriously hurt, and thousands of dollars worth of property was destroyed in a spectacular fire at the two story brick warehouse of Bantivoglio & Son, junk dealers, 252 Division Street, at 9:00 o'clock this morning.

The injured firemen attached to Engine Company No. 7, all of whom were taken to West Jersey Homeopathic Hospital, were:

Captain Charles Watkin 45 years old, 927 North Front street. Four fractured ribs and a punctured lung. he may die.

Nicholas Romaine, 43 years old, hoseman, 1271 Chase Street, lacerations of scalp and possible fracture of right ankle.

Louis Quinton, 25 years old, hoseman, 626 Viola Street, probable fracture of right shoulder.

Lester Anderson, 24 years old, hoseman, 1917 Niagara Road; lacerations of scalp and forehead and fractured left wrist.

None of the four were able to walk when they were lifted from where they had been struck down by the falling bricks. They were carried to the police ambulance and hurried at once to the hospital.

Residents of the neighborhood sat that a flash and a roar, as of an explosion, was their first warning of a blaze. The burned building has a frontage of 75 feet on Division Street. In a yard behind it there was a shed piled high with baled paper and three piled of used automobile tires. These caught fire and sent up black smoke that was visible for miles.

Smoke Hampers Firemen

A huge crowd of spectators already had gathered to watch the fire in this thickly populated section when the firemen arrived. The flames were threatening surrounding buildings, and the smoke was so dense that the men had difficulty finding their way out in the vicinity of the burning structure.

Captain Watkins and the three other fire fighters started along a driveway beside the building with a length of hose which they intended to use on the blazing sheds in the rear. They were passing a window when there was a muffled roar and a blast of dense smoke blinded and confused them. By shouts to one another they heard that there number was still intact. The blast of black smoke had been caused by the collapse of a loft and the falling of several bales of paper.

100,000 Tires Burn

More than 100,000 used automobile tires were destroyed in the blaze. The flames jumped a hundred feet into the air at one stage. Commissioner Hitchner watched the firemen at work from the roof of a nearby garage.

When the blaze had been extinguished Mr. Hitchner left to visit the injured firemen in the hospital. He commended the four men on their bravery and wished them a speedy recovery. Quinton is driver for Battalion Chief Wade.

The flames threatened to spread to the large garage of Louis Vananeri, on Spruce Street, directly in the rear of the junk yard. Firemen mounted the roof of this building and drove the flames back.

Today's blaze was the fourth that had visited the warehouse this year. The fire today is believed to have been caused by spontaneous combustion.

Carter Directs Rescue

The quarter were stooping to take up their hose line again when there was a crack like the report of a pistol, followed by a terrific roar.

Fire Chief Carter, personally directing his men, was about 50 feet away, and saw the four men buried as the bricks thudded down from the crumbling wall.

"Come on boys, there are four men under here." the chief yelled, and soon a score of hands were tearing frantically at the heaps of hot brick.

Bus Delays Ambulance

The police ambulance in which the injured men were placed was delayed for five minutes on its way to the hospital by the refusal of a Public Service bus driver to give it the right of way. According to Policeman Howard Fisher, the busman was arrested. The police say he will be prosecuted to the full extent of the ordinance in such cases. The ambulance was forced to remain behind the bus for a block and a half, according to the reports.

The pillar of smoke sent up by the blazing warehouse, sheds and 50-foot high piles of auto tires, drew thousands of spectators from all directions. Three alarms were turned in to the fire department in rapid succession. The police were called upon at once to establish lines for keeping back the crowd.

Bales of paper stored in the main building, as well as in the shed behind, .absorbed tons of water poured into the place by the firemen's hose, and the added weight snapped off fire-weakened floor beams like burning matches. The falling timbers and masses of packed paper added to the danger and difficulty of the firemen's task.

Only by a long and stubborn fight were the foremen able to prevent a conflagration among surrounding buildings.

The big warehouse became a red hot furnace. The heat was so intense a half-hour after the fire was discovered that telephone ad electric light poles on the other side of Division Street were ignited. "Trouble crews" from the telephone and electric companies were rushed to the place to guard their wires against falling and injuring persons below.

Loss placed at $50,000

It was roughly estimated that the the damage to the junk sheds and warehouse would reach $50,000.

Mrs. Leona Brown, who had just moved today into the house at 264 Division Street , just east of the burned plant, was driven from her new home by the dense clouds of smoke from a blazing of automobile tires that towered above the west wall of her two-story dwelling.

She was unable to return for any of her belongings when the flames began to eat their way through the west wall of her house.

The fire was the second within a month in the junk yard, which is closely surrounded by frame residences, a frame negro church and other buildings on all sides.

Romaine Seriously Hurt

Hoseman Romaine was reported by surgeons at the West Jersey Homeopathic Hospital as the most seriously hurt of the firemen caught by the falling wall. He was cut above the head, badly bruised about the back, and one of his ankles is believed to have been fractured.

Captain Watkins suffered several fractured ribs.

Hoseman Anderson was cut and burned about the face and his right wrist.

Hoseman Quinton suffered burns, cuts and bruises, and it is believed that one of his shoulders was fractured.


Below, November 1935, at grave site outside Fire Headquarters at North 5th and Arch Streets immediately following ceremony for "Jack", from left: Fireman John Yates, Captain William Van Pfefferle, Fireman William Hopkins, Fireman Lester Anderson, Acting Captain Edgar Ellender, Deputy Chief William Harring.

Click on Images to Enlarge

The American Fire Service has always held domesticated animals as esteemed mascots and the Camden Fire Department was certainly no exception. Through the years there have been many types of mascots in the Department including monkeys, cats, goats, and of course the most popular mascot, the dog. Dating back to the days of horse drawn fire apparatus and even earlier when carriage dogs formed an integral bond with horses, canines distinguished themselves as animals especially attuned to firehouse life.

Jack was the company mascot of Engine 2 and Ladder 1 at old Fire Headquarters for over five years and he was described as an intelligent Airedale of good humored nature. Jack never missed an opportunity to climb aboard the apparatus and answer alarms with his beloved masters. The sight of Engine Company 2 roaring out Federal Street with Jack perched high atop the apparatus, wind blowing in his face amid the shrill pitch of the buckeye whistle and clanging bells was a unforgettable scene. Occasionally and as with all active canines, Jack would be out of quarters and around the corner or down the street when an alarm was transmitted. At such times he would dash down Fifth Street until he caught up with the rolling apparatus and would skillfully leap upward to his accustomed place on the rig. It was under these circumstances that Jack lost his life.

The Department phone jingled and the Housewatchman turned out both companies for an alarm at 119 N. 9th Street. Jack got a late start on the hike and chased the apparatus out Federal Street where he tangled with an automobile at Broadway. While trying to avoid the car Jack darted into the path of the apparatus and was fatally injured. The men of the Engine and Truck were heart broken. Jack was buried the next day in the rear yard of Fire Headquarters in the place that had been his home since puppyhood. Flowers were planted to adorn the fresh grave while some of the toughest Firemen in the house were visibly grief stricken. One year later on the anniversary of Jack's death a memorial service was held after Roll Call in the rear yard of Fire Headquarters. The members erected a tombstone and in a quiet service, Fireman John Yates blew taps over Jack's grave. There were no words spoken. All that needed to be said was inscribed upon the little headstone; "Our Faithful Pal Jack" died in service, November 5, 1934.


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