TH MICHIGAN DAILY
SUNRAY, FEBRUARY 27,1951S
PAGE SIX THE MICHIGAN DAILY SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 1955
AFTER 38 YEARS:
Chief Zahn Ends Fire Fighting Career
2 2 MILLION EXCESS:
U.S. School Enrollment Over Capacity
By JIM DYGERT
In 38 years and seven months,
Ann Arbor's Fire Chief Ben Zahn
has missed only one fire "that
amounted to anything."
Except for a blaze that took
place while he was away at a fire
chiefs' convention in Menominee,
Mich., Zahn has personally di-
rected his crew of firefighters at
every major fire in the area since
he became chief in 1939.
"I've always liked to go out and
put out fires," he said, thinking
:f his 23 years as an ordinary
fireman prior to 1939. He didn't
miss any fires of any importance
during that time.
Now 60 years old, Zahn is re-
tiring from the Ann Arbor Fire
Department, effective tomorrow,
although he may stick around to
help the new chief, Ernest Heller,
now an assistant chief.
"If someone comes along and
wants some help, I'll be available,"
is the way he puts it.
His 38 years and 7 months give
Zahn second place in number of
years spent with the department.
He's retiring of his own will. "Why
wait until they push you out?" he
Fire chiefs have worries enough,
and "at this age, you begin to for-
get things and worry about things."
His last 16 years with the depart-
ment as chief has accustomed him
to the administrative angle of fire-
Paging through some of the
many record books he is required
to keep, he said, "I liked being a
regular fireman." He was just that,
except that he was the number
one fireman, when he was asked
by the city's fire commissioners to
take the chief's job. Most chiefs
are lieutenants, captains, or as-
sistant chiefs first.
A pension will follow him out of
office and he has no definite plans
for the immediate future. Not in-
tending to take another job, "I've
got a lot of work to do around the
house. I've already bought paint
for the house-just have to wait
until the weather gets nice."
Grew Up in Ann Arbor
A native of the area, Zahn was
born a few years before the turn
of the century -in Lodi township,
about 12 miles from Ann Arbor.
Five performances of Verdi's
" musical version of Shakespeare's
"Merry Wives of Windsor" will
be given this week at the Lydia
The opera, "Falstaff," is the
first offering of the speech de-
partment's playbill. It is perform-
ed in, conjunction with the School
Running Tuesday through Sat-
urday, performances will begin at
8 p.m. The department has stated
}.that latecomers will not be seated
during the first scene (there is no
>'}< Opening night tickets for "Fal-
staff" as well as for the other
plays ("The Skin of Our Teeth"
>< and "The Clugstone Inheritance")
are priced at $1.50. Single tickets
to the opera are $1.90, $2.60 and
Singing the lead in.Chester Kall-
< man's English translation of the
comic opera is Robert Kerns, Grad.
-Daily-John Hirtzel Other cast members include Do-
MAKES A FINAL INSPECTION lores Lowry, Grad., Joan Rossi,
Grad., Laura Smith, '55, and Wil-
tripled since 1916, also. There were liam Cole, Grad.
20 when Zahn first became a fire- Handling the musical direction
man, and now there are 56 be- is Josef Blatt of the music school
sides himself-40 at the Huron while the stage director is Prof.
Street station and 16 at the Stad- Valentine Windt of the speech de-
ium Blvd. station. partment.
By HERMAN R. ALLEN
Associated Press Newsfeatures Writer
Government reports on educa-
tion, never couched in very dash-
ing terms, make frequent use these
days of the jaw-breaking phrase
"number of pupils in excess of nor-
A recent U.S. Office of Educa-
tion report shows that more than
2%1/ million American children "in
excess of normal capacity" are
enrolled in public schools this
year. About 2 million of them are
elementary pupils. All told, they
make up about 9 per cent of public
Somehow, most school districts
manage to give their students full-
time classes despite the extra load.
But an average of 2.3 per cent of
the school-age children in each
state are not in full-time atten-
dance this year, because of the
lack of facilities. The accompany-
ing map shows the percentage
range in each state.
Problem of '50s
Crowded schools are a problem
peculiar to the 1950s. As the graph
indicates, school enrollments at
the start of the decade (because
of the lower birth rate during the
depression) was slightly lower
than in 1930. Then the deluge of
war babies started and overcrowd-
ing became the rule.
The problem has'been aggravat-
ed from another angle. During the
.::ONTr . .E..:........ ..TEXAS
* .~. FUL .TENN:.E
ALL STATES LACK FULL EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES
RETIRING FIRE CHIEF ZAHN1
He grew up in Ann Arbor and Join-
ed the fire department at the age
He remembers clearly the horse
and buggy days of fire fighting.
"Took a lot longer to get to a fire
in those days. And keeping horses
and replacing buggies cost about
three times as much as upkeep of
Getting to a fire is a much
quicker process in these modern
times. "We average about two
minutes to a mile," Zahn reports.
"And it takes only a minute to get
the trucks on the street after a
call comes in."
In Charge of 56 Men
The size of the force has almost
Any sophomore engineer inter-
ested in filling a position on the
Sophomore Engineering C 1 a s s
Board may contact Tom Beierle,
433 Williams, West Quad, before
war governmental controls held
down the building of new schools
or replacement of those becoming
obsolete. Even without the rush
of students, that alone would have
been enough to cause trouble.
U.S. Census Bureau trend fig-
ures show that even with the pre-
sent declining birth rate, pressure
on schools will continue to mount
until about 1980. There will be a
levelling off in the early 1960s, but
immediately after that the 1942-
53 babies will begin to reach mar-
riageable ages, and their children
will shortly thereafter hit the
schools as a second wave.
The Administration estimates
that the current shortage totals
more than 300,000 classrooms. To
ease this situation, the President
sent to Congress this month his
recommendations for a four-point
emergency school construction
program costing more than one
billion dollars in federal funds
One of them is keeping the
name Zahn on the fire department
payroll. Ben, junior, has been on
the force a year and is 29 years,
old. Ben, senior, also has three
He lives with his wife, Emma,
at 823 W. Washington, where he
intends to take his gardening more
seriously from now on. "I want
to do some manual labor," he
says. "It's good for the soreness in
the back of my neck that's been
bothering me for, the last couple
Although he's willing to. give a
hand if needed, he no longer has
to be concerned about a bad wind
fanning the embryo of a disaster-
ous fire. It won't be his job to
worry about it.
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