Nashville Engine No. 14
Here we were. It was beyond words to be standing in front of Nashville’s Engine No. 14 station. It certainly felt unreal. I was standing where my grandfather, Otto Scott, worked for many years as a firefighter/tiller man—steering the rear portion of the hook and ladder firetruck for Nashville City Fire.
The beautiful, red brick station is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It was the first fire station built in 1914, to accommodate motorized fire trucks. I stood there looking in awe at it, trying to envision my grandfather in uniform working there. I wished I could go inside and have a tour of it, to see the kitchen, the sitting area where he would’ve hung out, and the sleeping quarters. I loved the front porch. They had three large, white wooden, rocking chairs sitting on the lower deck of the station, Southern style, I presume. There was an upstairs deck as well. The station was situated on a large corner lot with huge, old trees, adjacent to a small neighborhood park. The plaque announcing it as a historic place stood beside the station’s driveway where a clean and shiny, red firetruck was parked, ready to do it’s service when called.
My cousin and I walked the property while he told me history about the area and shared some stories about my grandfather that he had heard from his dad, my uncle, while growing up. One in which, my grandfather accidentally—while turning a corner in the neighborhood—misjudged the distance and the firetruck took out a storefront window. Nobody was hurt except perhaps my grandfather’s pride.
I wanted to take in this moment, to embed it into my mind, just how this place looked and felt on this beautiful, sunny, fall day. The scent of trees and grass wafted ever so slightly in the brisk breeze. The only sound were birds, many birds, singing in the old trees in the old neighborhood. I loved seeing where my grandfather worked. I’m sure it was a part of his life he was proud of. In his retirement years, he worked as a security guard for the capital building in downtown Nashville. My cousin told me he could see my grandfather in me, that I resembled him quite a bit, that I had his mouth and chin. So interesting! My grandfather was a tall man. I knew this from my NID (non-identifying information from the state of California), so I knew years ago that both my children inherited his height, from the Scott side. My grandfather was at least 6’4”, and so were his brothers, my great-uncles. My son is 6’6”. My daughter is over 5’9”, and my sisters are all 5’10”. My mother was 6’ in her heyday. I’m the shrimp in the family at 5’7”, probably taking my height after my maternal grandmother who was 5’6”.
I took lots of pictures of the station. No one came outside while we were there. I was hoping someone would, and then I could tell them who we were, and perhaps out of the kindness of their southern heart, we’d get a tour inside, but that never happened. So be it. I was just grateful to be there in person after seeing only one photo for years. Seeing Engine No. 14, even though my grandfather is no longer with us, helped my adoptee psyche see him as a real person. Of course, I wished I knew my grandfather, but I could know him a bit through my cousin and the stories he shared about where he spent a good portion of his adult life in a job he loved. You could say it was unreal-making-real seeing Engine No. 14 in Nashville today and another check-mark towards helping myself seem real as well.