Strumming in the Park
Among the city's thousands of firefighters, Vincent Kane stood out. He lived on the Upper East Side and spent hours in the galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And he went to performances of the New York Philharmonic ‹ something that still amazes his friends in Engine Company 22. "Most firefighters don't even know what the Philharmonic is," said one of them, Michael Ruddick.
He was also an environmentalist who regularly patrolled the firehouse trash bins for recyclables. And not long ago, he became a vegetarian ‹ though the other firefighters insisted on piling red meat onto his plate anyway. "My daughter would be serving turkey on a holiday, and he would have the artificial kind," said his mother, Joan. "We had to laugh when he'd do that."
Firefighter Kane, 37, grew up in Breezy Point, Queens, where he became a volunteer fireman at 17. "He was always giving," Mrs. Kane said. He loved to play tunes by the Grateful Dead or the Beatles on his guitar. His neighbors on East 80th Street, who nicknamed him "the Mayor," listened for the music wafting softly from his apartment late at night.
He kept a guitar in his locker at the firehouse, too, and would sometimes announce to his colleagues that he was heading out to play it in the park. "I used to tell him he was straying as far away from the normal firefighter stereotype as he possibly could," Mr. Ruddick said.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 29, 2001.