Junior Pultz marks 72 years in the Fleischmanns VFD
By Joe Moskowitz
It was a bright, sunny day last Sunday when the Fleischmanns Fire Department’s siren started wailing. Charles “Junior” Pultz jumped in his car and drove to the fire hall to see if he could help, just like has been doing that since he was 16 years old. Junior was 16 years old in 1952, 72 years ago!
Junior’s interest in fighting fires began when his family lived near Brush Ridge Road, next door to the Roosevelt Hotel in Fleischmanns. When he was just a year-and-a-half old, the Roosevelt was destroyed by fire and his mother said, “I guess you’re going to become a fireman.”
She was right. Junior has now been a firefighter for almost three quarters of a century, but sadly, the Roosevelt wasn’t the last hotel fire there would be in Fleischmanns.
Pultz started working for New York State Electric and Gas, which used to have a maintenance facility on Bridge Street in Fleischmanns. He worked there for 40 years, then spent 20 years after his so-called “retirement” as head of security at Belleayre Mountain. Throughout both careers, he was a Fleischmanns firefighter.
Junior spent about a dozen years as its chief of the department and said he had some great firemen in the department. For most of those years when he was chief there were about 75 men in the department. When the siren sounded, men like Dave Solomon would run from his market to try and beat Jim Todd, who was responding from the Ford dealership, and Jim Fuller who was running from the from the post office, in a frantic race to get to one of the trucks first so they could drive.
The early years
In Pultz’ early years, Fleischmanns had only two trucks. Both still exist today. One is parked at Wadler Brothers and the other is kept in the Fleischmanns Fire Hall and is used only during parades.
All too many times, the trucks had to roll in what proved to be futile attempts to extinguish hotel fires. They had names like The Arlington, The Edgewood, The Majestic, The Pinewood, The Park Terrace, Panhans, and, the last of the great Fleischmanns hotels, The Takanassee. It was destroyed by fire in the early 1960s.
Pultz’s son, Terry, said there was never any question that it was a case of arson. Twice that day Fleischmanns firefighters answered fire calls at the Takanassee. Once there was a burning mattress in a stairwell. Then that night, they were called for a third time. When they looked up and the sky was orange, they knew the “Tak” was gone.
Pultz said that in those years, each day before Labor Day, he would remind firefighters to be prepared for a hotel fire the next day. All too often, he was right. Once in awhile they would win.
On an earlier bright, sunny day, the Fleischmanns Fire Department siren started wailing. Fire had broken out on the third floor of the St. Regis Hotel on county Road 37. Lake Switzerland was across the road and it provided plenty of water.
The top floor was lost but the rest of the building still stands today as Oppenheimer’s Regis Hotel. Pultz said the owner told him, “You are really a good fireman.”
His mother knew what she was talking about.