Amongst the Middle Country Public Library’s many historical artifacts are a few that explain just how far the area has come from its pastoral roots. The pictureS and story below comes courtesy of a collaborative effort among the librarian staff.
Clarence “Cad” Dare, pictured here at his post atop the 70-foot Bald Hill Fire Tower, directed forest fire management in the woodlands of Suffolk County and the town of Oyster Bay as Fire Ranger for over 32 years.
A lifelong Selden resident, Dare also served as Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent during the years 1915 through 1920, before accepting the District Forest Ranger position.
A colorful firefighter, Dare directed every major forest fire in both counties. To detect and locate fires, Dare and associate fire rangers scanned the region through a powerful telescope mounted on a compass base. A telephone on the lookout platform allowed the observer to call any fire in to the nearest Fire War-den.
In April 1952, at age 70, Dare was credited with working for over two days straight, extinguishing a forest fire that burned from Holtsville all the way to Selden, requiring the use of 90% of Brookhaven’s fire appa-ratus to subdue it. As the Patchogue Advance reported on Dec. 4, 1952, Dare was “eating smoke with men half his age keeping at his fingertips a knowledge of what was going on over hundreds of acres of burning trees and scrubs.”
The value of service to country and community was held in high regard in the Dare family. His father Samuel, a native of Selden, served in Company C, 165th Volunteer Infantry of the Union forces in the Civil War, and before his death, in 1913, he was a town trustee of the Town of Brookhaven.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Clarence Dare was active in community affairs, serving as vice presi-dent and director of the National Bank of Lake Ronkonkoma, and also as a treasurer and trustee of the Board of Education for the School District of Selden.
During World War I, he was a member of the New York State National Guard. Additionally, Dare belonged to various fraternal organizations, including the Suwasset Chapter of Royal Arch Masons in Patchogue, the Patchogue Commandery of the Knights Templar and the Kismet Temple Shrine of Brooklyn.
Dare passed away at the age of 70 in 1952 and is buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery in Patchogue with his wife, Florence Eugenia Gould, daughter of George E. and Eugenia (Hallock) Gould, both natives of Lake Grove.