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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

'Chuck Roast' honors former fire chief

Article Date: Saturday, November 17, 2007

Retired Meredith Fire Chief Chuck Palm has spent his career in the fire service putting out fires and conducting controlled burns.

But Friday night, a few months after retiring as chief, it was Palm's turn to be roasted as community members and old friends toasted and jabbed him at the "Chuck Roast."

The roast is an annual benefit for the Greater Meredith Program's. Retiring librarian Lydia Torr was the recipient of last year's friendly jabs.

This year the roast victim was Palm, who was both toasted and kidded by a long line of old friends and colleagues.

"At the end of the (roast), hopefully Chuck will resemble that hamburger in the announcement," said roast master and town Selectman Bob Flanders, who said the event was to "show our respect for a gentleman that has dedicated a lot of community service for his job."

Flanders said he had read Lee Iacocca's book "Where Have all the Leaders Gone" that contained a list of attributes for good leaders. "As far as I can tell, Chuck has a lead on the list."

Pleasantries continued throughout the evening, though roasters further turned up the heat on Palm with a series of cracks and barbs that ranged from the smirking to the raunchy.

Bill and the Flames, a band consisting of code enforcement officer Bill Edney, Edney's son Jason, local announcer Chris Kelly, and Palm's old friend Dave Emmanuel, playing "Chuck Palm is a Mean Old Man." Kelly started the song with a story of how he and his son saw Palm plug his ears and smile right before the fire horn went off at Meredith Central Station.

Edney presented Palm with a large headdress of black feathers, likening a fire department to a Native American tribe.

"White is for good guys, black is for bad guys, is there any significance to that color?" Flanders quipped.

Emmanuel, who had Palm as a scout master and worked with him in the Stratham Fire Department, toasted "Scout Master Chuck," describing an eventful four days in boy scout camp involving a camper climbing a fire tower in his underwear and scouts getting sick on chewing tobacco.

"We got nothing but buck. We wouldn't be where we are today without our scout master Chuck," said Emmanuel, who is now Stratham's assistant chief.

Belknap County Commissioner Christopher Boothby gave a presentation on Palm's life in pictures titled "Chuck Palm: The Man, the Myth, the Arsonist." Any photo of Palm as a child, at work, or playing with his sons Garrett and Brian was followed by an image of a burning house or forest.

"He promised (his sons) a beach vacation and he was too cheap to go to the beach," Boothby said, showing a photo of a burned forest before showing one of Palm with his family at the beach, "so he erased the background."

Retired Police Chief John Curran entered the room in a firefighter jacket with plastic, toy fire hat.

"The Meredith Fire Department under the tutelage of Mr. Chuck Palm, two hundred years of tradition unhampered by progress," Curran said.

He pulled out a series of notes from his jacket pocket reading "chief, let's forget staff meeting this morning. Let's meet at noon for lunch. (Signed) Bill Edney" and several variations. Curran also said he was glad current Fire Chief Jim Carrier was not present because "he is a man of integrity."

Palm took the roasting in good humor, laughing along with each jab and making his own comments while wearing the headdress the entire night.

He got the first laugh at the beginning of the evening when he said he originally rated the ballroom with a maximum capacity of 150 people. "I was told there's 160," Palm said. "The 10 people in here have to leave."

"May he have enough time to enjoy life a bit in his retirement," Flanders said in a toast. "Hopefully he'll have a little more time to himself."

Related links
The big chief

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