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Long time Marietta "resident" appears in inaugural parade
January 20, 2009 - Art Smith
A little piece of Marietta went rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue Tuesday.
Millions traveled to Washington Tuesday to see the swearing in of Barack Obama, the nation’s 44th president. Hundreds of thousands of Americans lined the parade route in the afternoon to see more than 10,000 parade participants hailing from every state honor the new president as part of his inaugural parade.
About half way through the parade a long time resident of Marietta made her second appearance in a presidential parade. The “her” was not a person, but a fire truck called The "Spirit of the Lincoln Way."
The fire truck has a long history, most of it spent in Marietta. For decades the truck was part of the fleet of the Marietta Fire Department. The truck still has the identification of Aerial 1 painted on the doors, just as it did when it helped fight fires in Marietta.
As a photographer at The Marietta Times I remember the truck being used several times to help reach the upper floors of Marietta homes. I remember one fire downtown when Joe Matthews, who was mayor at the time, climbed up on the truck to guide the ladder to the upper floors of a home that was burning on Wooster Street. A retired firefighter by then, Matthews had a special fireman’s hat that identified him simply as mayor.
The truck was replaced by the city when they purchased their current aerial truck.
I had forgotten about the truck until I happen to turn on C-SPAN early Tuesday evening. It had grown dark in Washington by that time; the crowd lining the parade route had thinned out. The president and first lady were still watching though.
A man dressed as Abe Lincoln caught my eye, I looked to see where he was from and it identified his group as being the Lincoln Highway National Museum and Archives. I remembered that Marietta had sold their old truck to a group that had something to do with the Lincoln Highway, the next camera angle showed a shot down Pennsylvania Avenue and right in the middle of the street was that truck.
Since being sold to the group the 1964 Maxim has made a number of trips around the country promoting the highway. Craig Harmon, Founder and Director of the Lincoln Highway National Museum and Archives, has driven the 27,000-pound truck thousands of miles.
In 2001, the truck also appeared in the parade honoring George Bush.
The old truck faced an uncertain future when the City of Marietta replaced it. It has now ushered in not one, but two presidents.
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Lincoln Portrayer, Mo Ressallot rides high atop the "Spirit of the Lincoln Way" Fire Truck Saturday, January 20, 2001 in the Inaugural Parade for President George W. Bush as two firemen ride escort. The Fire Truck, a 1964 Maxim is sponsored by The Lincoln Highway National Museum & Archives in Galion, Ohio (Photo Credit/Lincoln Highway National Museum & Archives-Craig Harmon