All of this had taken place in 1956. We realized that the next order of business was a building to house the truck, and some equipment to put on the truck. We needed to raise some money, and were still on our own as far as the fire district was concerned.
We decided to hold a ham dinner at the end of May 1957 to raise money. Being new to the game, we ordered enough ham and some beef to serve about 400 people, which at them time cost right at $80.00. The firemen’s wives and some other ladies of the community would make scalloped potatoes and salads. Bonnie and I had the store, so we hit up every salesman that came through the door. In addition to selling them tickets, we got the wholesale grocery salesman to provide enough canned vegetables for the dinner, along with paper plates, dinnerware and napkins. Boyd coffee provided the coffee and cups. Mayflower milk provided milk and cream, while the Mt. Adams Dairy that was in White Salmon at the time provided Dixie cups. A young man who was a cook had just gotten out of the Navy, volunteered to cook all the meat. Several men who had served dinners at the Elks, volunteered to serve for us. These “experts”, told us we had way to much food, as no one had ever had more than 250 show up for on of these things. However, ignorance is bliss, and at this point it looked like our only outlay was going to be for the meat so we charged ahead.
The P.U.D had a battery operated PA system that they loaned out, so I borrowed it, mounted it on the fire truck and for several days visited Trout Lake, Glenwood, Klickitat, Lyle, Bingen and White Salmon. Not only did I broadcast our message, I stopped at every store to sell tickets and / or get them to sell for us.
By the time the big night had rolled around we had pre-sold at the door over $750 in tickets. That was at $1.50 for adults and 75 cents for children. A lot of food was wasted, as our “experts” were been sill and loading people up “because we had way to much food.” We served over 400 people that night and had to turn people away when we ran out of food. Those who had tickets and didn’t’ get to eat, were offered their money back, but I don’t remember a one who took it. One of those who didn’t get to eat was Forrest Wallace who had a local logging company. We were visiting in the halfway and he asked me how we were doing, and if everything was paid for. When he found that we still owed for the meat, he paid for it. We ended up with a clear profit on the dinner. The firemen only had to sell tickets, get chairs and tables from the school in White Salmon and the Elks, set up and clean up.
The money went to buy a portable pump, some hose and a nozzle or two. It didn’t go all that far with all of our needs. The pump and hose was delivered and used within a week at the Hoppe – DeWilde Mill fire.