Born for a Firetruck
Jack Clarke may have been a New York City police officer, but from the very beginning his youngest son, Michael, had this affinity for firefighting.
"When he was young, he just loved to sit in the engines at the fire house," said Michael Clarke's father, who remembers giving his son that bright red firetruck he pedaled around in.
And so, even though he became a top student at Wagner College and a star on the hockey team, it was not a surprise to his father when Michael Clarke joined the Fire Department three years ago.
Firefighter Clarke, 27, was delighted several months ago to be transferred from Staten Island to Engine 8 and Ladder 2 on East 51st Street in Manhattan, "because there was much more action in Manhattan," his father said.
Sept. 11 was a scheduled day off; Firefighter Clarke went to work because he had switched days with another firefighter.
Now, at Wagner College, they have retired Michael Clarke's hockey number — 34. His father misses those regular phone calls from him, the ones that came to mean so much more after Jack Clarke's wife, Eileen, died three years ago.
"He'd call every day," the father recalls. "And he'd say, 'Hi, Pop. How you doing?' "
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 8, 2001.