NORTH SALEM, N.Y. - When Augie Piazza died on January 22, North Salem lost one of its leading long-time citizens. In 1938 Piazza, then 24, joined the Croton Falls Fire Department (CFFD). A dozen years later, he was fire chief. A dozen years after that he took on the role of Fire Commissioner and served in that capacity for nearly 20 years. Piazza was also North Salems tax assessor and was the proprietor of the only barbershop for miles around. The shop was located on Front Street in Croton Falls, where Anderson French is now.
When I was a kid, I would be sitting there in the chair with my hair half cut and the fire siren would blow, CFFD President, Jeff Daday. Augie would run out of the shop with Bob DiPaoli from Bobs Superette and Ray Cole, the postmaster. Theyd all run out. Hed come back later and finish cutting my hair.
Former North Salem resident Jay Carollo wrote from Iowa: Augie was one of the business people that exemplified life in Croton Falls, always pleasant and jovial, plus the fact that you got a darned good haircut. Im sure I always enjoyed my visit due to friendship with his late son Gerald. They were a fine family to know and be friends with.
When Augie retired he cut hair at his house on East Cross Street, recalled CFFD President Jeff Daday. He had a barber chair on his sunporch. The town was a lot different in those days.
Daday added, Augie was on the committee to buy the first commercial fire apparatus for the town. The 1938 truck served as the floral car in Wednesdays funeral procession.
For more than 35 years, Piazza was on the faculty of the Bronx Vocational High School, teaching tonsorial arts. After his retirement, he taught students at Lincoln Hall the art of barbering.
At the time of his death, Augie Piazza was 97. Every September he attended the old-timers meeting at the fire department, said Daday. But he missed the last one, he added thoughtfully.
In honor of Piazzas decades-long service to the fire department and to the community, he was buried with a large contingency of uniformed firemen.
His grandson, Brian Keane, described him as honest, loving and caring. My parents were divorced when I was five and he took over. I want to be like him. I named my son after him -- Benjamin August. He was my role model.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.