Germania’s intergenerational turkey dinners never get old

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The serving team lines up for a picture. In front, from left, are Sidney Dunleavy, Victoria Signorello, Ben, Hannah and Christian Schairer, Maxine Livingston and Elaina Gill. In the middle row are Nick Calimer, Jake Stiteler, Matt McColgan, Abby Heinz, Grace Wilson and Lauren Houf. In back are Mikaela Dunleavy, Lizzie Glass, Nicole Wenzel, Brad Chorpenning, Pat Moran, Eric Keiser and Ashley Emmell. (Steve Prisament) The serving team lines up for a picture. In front, from left, are Sidney Dunleavy, Victoria Signorello, Ben, Hannah and Christian Schairer, Maxine Livingston and Elaina Gill. In the middle row are Nick Calimer, Jake Stiteler, Matt McColgan, Abby Heinz, Grace Wilson and Lauren Houf. In back are Mikaela Dunleavy, Lizzie Glass, Nicole Wenzel, Brad Chorpenning, Pat Moran, Eric Keiser and Ashley Emmell. (Steve Prisament)

GALLOWAY – From 83-year-old Carl Hanselman to eight-year-old Christian Schairer, the Germania Volunteer Fire Company semi-annual turkey dinner Saturday, Oct. 5 was – as it always is – an intergenerational affair.

Hanselman said his great-grandfather was among a generation that originally settled the area, moving here from Germany.

“I’m a 55-year member here,” Hanselman said. “I’m just mixing the filler – stuffing. I used to work upstairs on the dishes.”

That’s how most job changes for the dinners occur – to accommodate aging.

Young Schairer is what they call a “bread kid.” He’s likely to evolve into one who buses and then serves tables before moving on to the more heavy duty preparation work mostly done by the active firefighters.

“I’m old enough for what I do,” he said, working side by side with youngsters well up into their teens.

As some of the older members make way for their children’s and grandchildren’s generations, they find work peeling sweet potatoes or taking on clerical tasks.

Hanselman said he used to live right across the street from the firehouse.

“I joined right after I got out of the service, and I’ve been in ever since,” he said. “My father and two uncles were members. My Uncle George was one of the founders. They used to have a wood stove. In the winter, he’d sleep over here to keep the fire going.”

He said technology has made myriad changes in firefighting.

“We had no pagers,” Hanselman said. “We’d hear the whistle and come to the firehouse; we didn’t know where we were going. They’d leave a note if you were late.”

The octogenarian said he doesn’t go to fires anymore.

“But I come to the firehouse,” Hanselman said. “I go on drills and get all the training.”

He pointed out that at 83, he is not the oldest member of the fire company.

“My brother, Louis Hanselman, and Walter Roesch are both older than me,” Hanselman said. “Lou isn’t here this year; he had to take his wife somewhere. Walter was here Friday, working. Walter’s brother Joe was chief from 1983-89. He died in ’89.”

Another group of downstairs kitchen workers was comprised of Cliff Mosier, a 40-year Germania veteran, working with Brian Hall, a four-year member; Krischan Guerra, a member for two months; and Joey Worth, whose kitchen work began after only five days as a member.

Nearby, Nicholas Branco was opening large cans of green beans with an ancient can opener secured to an even-older milk crate.

Carl Hanselman, 83, helps make stuffing; he’s a 55-plus year Germania Volunteer Fire Company member. (Steve Prisament) Carl Hanselman, 83, helps make stuffing; he’s a 55-plus year Germania Volunteer Fire Company member. (Steve Prisament)

Firehouse photo of Carl Hanselman with his brother Louis, center, and Walter Roesch, who helped with dinner preparation Friday night. (Steve Prisament) Firehouse photo of Carl Hanselman with his brother Louis, center, and Walter Roesch, who helped with dinner preparation Friday night. (Steve Prisament)

Brian Hall mixes stuffing while Cliff Mosier, Krischan Guerra and Joey Worth look on. (Steve Prisament) Brian Hall mixes stuffing while Cliff Mosier, Krischan Guerra and Joey Worth look on. (Steve Prisament)

Nicholas Branco opens green beans with a can opener older than he is. (Steve Prisament) Nicholas Branco opens green beans with a can opener older than he is. (Steve Prisament)


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