Chicago-area industrialist George F. Getz Jr. and his wife, Olive Atwater Getz, were driving through Wilmette, Illinois, when they saw a broken-down fire truck on the side of the road.
George casually remarked he would like the 1924, Type 12 American La France fire engine. Considering the Globe Corp. chairman had everything, Olive surprised him with the old fire engine for Christmas in 1955.
The gift led to a hobby on his part of collecting antique and historic firefighting equipment.
This resulted in his creating the Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting, now located in Phoenix, in 1961. It houses the world’s largest collection of firefighting equipment and memorabilia.
“Somehow they kept it a secret from him,” said Mark Moorhead of the Hall of Flame Museum about George’s present.
“It was really, basically, intended as a gag gift, but he went nuts. He loved it. He gave the neighborhood kids rides in it. He just really became enamored of firetrucks. He started to collect more and more and more of them.”