AuSABLE FORKS — Alfred “Butch” Rougeau has firefighting in the blood.
His father, Henry, and his brother, Richard, were members of the AuSable Forks Volunteer Fire Department.
Most days, Rougeau can be found there. Now, a brass plaque engraved with his name graces the entrance to the fire station at 29 School Lane.
On Friday evening, Rougeau’s colleagues threw him a surprise party in recognition of his five decades of service, which was marked in June.
LIFE OF SERVICE
Born and raised in AuSable Forks, Rougeau hung around the old fire station with his father.
“My father said I should help people out,” the soft-spoken Rougeau said. “In those days, you take a penny postcard and said you wish to join.”
If a candidate was a good prospect, the fire department sent a penny postcard back informing the candidate to attend the next meeting.
Such was the case for Rougeau in June 1962. The old fire department was located next to the post office.
“They just squeezed two trucks in there,” he said.
When he joined, he was fresh out of the U.S. Army. He enlisted in January 1959 and served two years and two months.
The two months was a result of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
“Everybody got froze. I came back to my job at the Grand Union,” he said.
Rougeau worked for the company for 42 years, two less than he has been married to his wife, Rita.
He spent his days off at the firehouse.
“Most managers I had in the stores I went to were real lax about me being late if I was at a fire,” he said.
Firefighting training in those days was on the job. His first fire was a residence in Black Brook.
“We had some big, big fires,” Rougeau said. “In those days, you had a pair of boots and raincoats. All it did was keep water off of you.”