Today we visited the New England Fire and History Museum. Must have been our 10th or 11th visit, but the guys still love looking over the old fire fighting equipment, the 19th Century horse drawn engines (without horses), the 18th Century manually operated pumpers (without mans), the fire trucks from the early and mid 20th Century, and a 30 foot by 15 foot diorama of the Chicago Fire, complete with smoke and sound effects and the information that the fire was not started by Mrs O'Leary's cow.
There is a little display devoted to 9/11, consisting almost entirely of mass cards from the funerals of firefighters who died that day who had Cape Cod connections.
The guides at the museum are all volunteers and they are almost to a man men and retirees. But last year when we were there we were surprised to be helped out by a young woman no more than 20. She was friendly and cheerful and deeply interested in the museum and when I asked her a question she couldn't answer about one of the old engines she was upset with herself and set off right away to find an older guide who would have the information I wanted. After she brought him over she had to dash off to answer questions from some other visitors.
I couldn't help remarking to the other guide on his colleague's youth. I said how great it was that a college kid was volunteering here.
He looked around to make sure she was well out of earshot. "Well, her father was a firefighter," he said.
I didn't like the sound of that was.
The guide said, "In New York."
I got it and my heart sank.
The guide said, "They used to come to the Cape for vacation and he used to bring her here every year."
I said I couldn't imagine coming to work here every day if I was in her place.
"Oh she loves it," he said, "She says it makes her feel like she's with him. She feels like she's helping him out too because he loved the museum."
She's not at the museum this year. She needed to get a paying job this summer. Her father's portrait is on the false wall facing the doorway to the main building, the first smiling face greeting visitors as they walk in.