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I just had to share this unbelievable story.

  When the World''s Fair was held in Chicago in 1933 & 34, they needed a fire department to protect the newly erected buildings and for the millions of visitors that were estimated to attend. So they used members from the Fire Patrol to man the Fire Department. My grandfather was selected from the Patrol to be 1 of 2 Lieutenants needed.

The Century of Progress Fire Department had interesting badges and helmet fronts. I have been searching on line auctions since 1997 trying to locate these badges, always hoping they were still around after all these years. Recently a set of these Lieutenant badges showed up in an online auction. Since I knew there were only two sets ever made, it was a 50/50 chance they were worn by my grandfather. I contacted the seller and told her about my grandfather, giving her his name, Michael Kinsch, and asking if she could pull the badges and just sell them outright to me. She emailed me back informing me that she was the consignor and the seller would not end the auction early. Here is her response “Hi Keith, I really want you to have these badges. I am trying to figure out how to make that happen. Truly, they do not belong to me, but rather to the Widow of a very respected and well known high ranking Firefighter. I really want you to have these badges!”

I was disappointed to say the least. I knew if the auction would run its course, these badges would not be cheap. The last C of P Firefighter badge (38 issued) at auction went for $900. So I estimated the badges to go for over a grand each. I know a lot of bread... But you have two different collectors interested in these badges ... Century of Progress Worlds Fair and Fire Dept so the bidding will be strong.

Not wanting to give up, I emailed her again asking if she could at least present a cash offer to the seller.
She agreed to do it and asked me a question, “Who is Kenneth Kinsch? I thought she meant my grandfather, Michael Kinsch. I responded back that I didn’t know who he was and anxiously waited for her reply.
Two days later I get this email, “Hi Keith, your Grandfather''s badges are yours! I talked to my client and she has agreed to your offer for the 2 badges and wants you to have them. I know for a fact these are your grandfather’s and have a story backing it up.”

I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The woman left her phone number and I called her right away. It turns out the badges were in a case hanging in the Chicago Fire Commissioners office for decades. When they moved to a different building somehow the badges ended up in the trash. The widow’s husband took them out of the trash and kept them until his recent death. When the consignor removed them from the case there was a tag on the back which said, “Donated by Kenneth Kinsch.” Kenneth Kinsch,according to my Aunt, was my grandfather’s nephew. So now I had the proof that the badges were definitely my grandfathers.

Next February it will be 80 years that these badges were issued to him!!
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