A Dream Realized
Frank Callahan, 50, was living his dream. As a boy and a young man he had wanted to be a firefighter. In 1970, when he met Angie Lang, the woman who would become his wife, at a party at a volunteer firehouse in Breezy Point, Queens, he had not yet attained that dream.
"He was on the list," Mrs. Callahan recalled, referring to the men and women who had passed the written and physical tests to be firefighters and were waiting for the call. It came a few years after they met. Mr. Callahan was appointed in September 1973. "That job was all he ever wanted," Mrs. Callahan recalled. "That was the best thing that ever happened to him."
In the years that followed, the couple had four children: Harry, now 23; Nora, 21; Peter, 17; and Rose, 13. Mr. Callahan was promoted to captain in 1997 and months later was transferred to Ladder Company 35 on the Upper West Side, but the family did not have any big parties. "He wasn't big on celebrations," Mrs. Callahan said. A quiet man, Mr. Callahan liked to read about the Civil War or World War II. "He'd rather sit and be home," said Mrs. Callahan, an eighth-grade math teacher in Middletown, N.Y.
As the children grew, Mr. Callahan taught them how to ride bicycles and play basketball. But Mrs. Callahan's most cherished memory was when her husband and Harry, then not older than 5, worked together on the exterior of their house in Breezy Point, with Harry helping his father with the hammering. "He was his little helper; wherever Dad went, he went," Mrs. Callahan recalled. "He was very good with his kids that way."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on April 21, 2002.