PITTSFIELD >> As we get closer to spring, I'm reminded of the bitterly cold days that we've had this winter.

We didn't have a lot of them, but the ones that we did have were awful.

Most of us reacted to the cold by barricading ourselves inside. But there were a handful of people whose professions required them to be outside working in those subzero temperatures.

I'm taking about mail carriers, first responders, fire fighters, law enforcement personnel, even some construction workers. The crew building the Berkshire Carousel on Center Street this winter seems to have been outside in both thick and thin.

I think we owe a debt of gratitude for people who's professions require them to work outside in these numbing conditions. We tend to take what they do for granted.

Take mail carriers for example. Imagine walking a route in some neighborhood in bone-chlling temperatures carrying letters and magazines while trying to negotiate wind, ice and snow, often blowing snow. It's a lot harder than it sounds. But if mail carriers didn't do it, we wouldn't have the letters, bundles and parcels that we receive everyday.

How about firefighters? Over the years as a reporter, I've covered fires that took place during the winter, and watched firefighters struggle to lift equipment into place when it's freezing. But all I had to do was watch. I didn't actually have to do it.


I didn't have to go up on a ladder and spray water down on a building when the water begins to freeze the minute it left the hose. Or battle the cold to go inside a rickety old wooden structure to try and find where a fire might have spread when I don't know the interior layout. Or try and put ladders up in the wind. All of these things are hard enough to do under optimum conditions, let alone when it's freezing.

The people that I've seen perform these tasks have been real pros. Their skill and expertise has saved an awful lot of structures — a lot of them fire traps and tinderboxes — from being totally destroyed. In some cases they've saved lives.

First responders and law enforcement officers often find themselves in the life-saving business, too.

Imagine trying to extricate someone from a motor vehicle following an accident when it's cold enough to make your teeth chatter. What about all the times first responders are required to save us stupid humans from ourselves? Every winter, we receive reports of people falling through the ice, or of snowmobilers who ended up in the drink because they treated an ice covered lake as if it was the Lebanon Valley Speedway.

Imagine having to try to save someone in that situation when the victims are scared and it's usually a race against the clock. It's a lot harder than it seems.

That's why the people who perform these tasks in these types of conditions deserve our admiration. Remember that the next time you see one of them doing their job. I

Here's to longevity

From time-to-time in this space, we mention local businesses that have achieved significant historical milestones. Especially firms that are still in business after hitting the century mark.

The Drennan Law Offices in Pittsfield, a family law practice, recently reached that distinction. Attorney Richard X. Drennan's grandfather, the late John M. Shea, founded the firm on North Street in 1914 before serving as an assistant district attorney.

Drennan's uncle, the late John F. Shea, joined the firm in 1950 and served until 1985. He also served as a county commissioner for 20 years.

Drennan's father, the late F. Richard Drennan, joined the firm in 1951, and served as both an assistant district attorney and as an assistant attorney general.

Richard X. Drennan, who joined the firm in 1982, also served as Pittsfield's assistant city solicitor for six years. The firm is currently located at 8 Bank Row.

"My family has always viewed the practice of law primarily as a profession, and have always believed in giving each client personal attention in a competent and ethical manner while keeping it simple," Drennan said.

A full century in the law. That's quite an achievement.

Tony Dobrowolski is the business editor of The Berkshire Eagle. He can be reached at tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com.