Al Ginoble of South Williamsport was raised in a house that served as the fire house for Citizens No.2 Fire Company in South Williamsport from the late 1800s to 1909, so it seemed natural that he would develop a passion for the fire service and firemen.
At age 18 he became an active firefighter for Citizens and remains an active member of the company today at the age of 64. During that time he served in a number of capacities with the company and developed many warm friendships with members of the company as well as other area fire companies and at the same time gained a keen appreciation for the history and lore of this area’s fire companies.
It was with this in mind that Ginoble started acquiring an extensive collection of local fire memorabilia.
“Firefighting and the history of it locally is a real passion of mine, so I decided about five years ago to devote half of a garage I own on Lincoln Avenue here in South Side to putting all the memorabilia I had collected into display cases. I have a lot of stuff so I needed the space of my garage,” Ginoble said. “It has kind of turned into a kind of a museum. The majority of the museum is geared toward local fire company memorabilia but I also researched and took movies and videos of what’s going around Williamsport and South Williamsport, such the demolitions of notable structures and businesses such as the Market Street Bridge, L.L. Stearns and other places.
Ginoble calls his museum, “Albie’s Fire Company Museum.” He also has within it vintage photographs of the old Hurr’s Dairy and some of its horse drawn delivery wagons as well as its old trucks, the old Humpty Dumpty, and the old Dixie Barbecue, just to name a few.
His collection of fire memorabilia includes many old photographs of fire equipment and firemen of Citizens and other South Williamsport fire companies, including his favorite piece of apparatus, a 1968 American LaFrance. He has photos of the house he was raised in when it was used as a fire house.
“I was on the parade committee of the 1964 State Firemen’s Convention that was held here and I have photos and a program from that as well as an old fire box, Box 14, which was located at the corner of Curtin Street and Southern Avenue,” Ginoble said. “I have been very lucky that retired firemen from ours and other companies have given me various pieces of memorabilia and I always make it a point to give them credit by putting their name with the piece they gave me when it is displayed.
He said he continues to solicit the help of fellow firefighters to help in the gathering of his memorabilia.
Among the non-fire items that he has is a speaker from L.L. Stearns, and a couple of bricks from the store and a baseball cap from the WMPT radio station.
Ginoble said he was able to gather some of these items from the site of the demolition of some of these structures during his time working with Williamsport’s Department of Parks and Recreation, which he retired from in 1996.
“This is not a museum in the formal sense but is just a place that I can keep a lot of items from a former time and display the fire memorabilia that I care so much about,” Ginoble said. “Sometimes some retired firemen and some current firemen will stop by here and have coffee and just shoot the breeze and I get a lot of pleasure out of hearing their stories about the old days.”
He thinks that he will probably have to acquire some more display cases to exhibit his items but going into his museum is almost like stepping back in time and helps you appreciate the past as well as the present.