Casper J. Bocklage, 89, Fire Department captain Casper...

January 01, 2001

Casper J. Bocklage, 89, Fire Department captain

Casper Joseph Bocklage, a 35-year veteran and captain of the Baltimore City Fire Department and the father of four Eagle Scouts, died at his Southeast Baltimore home Tuesday of cancer. He was 89 and lived in the Graceland Park neighborhood.

Born in Southeast Baltimore in 1911, Mr. Bocklage moved when he was age 6 to what his son Casper Bocklage Jr. of Baltimore described as "the wilds of Baltimore County." His family had no running water or electricity in Graceland Park, part of which was later annexed into the city.

"This was pioneer living," his son said. "They had a chicken coop out back, fruit trees in the yard. The whole bit. Once a year they put in a big order on Howard Street for staples that would be delivered by horse and wagon."

Mr. Bocklage attended Sacred Heart of Jesus School in Highlandtown but left in the seventh grade to help support his family with a job as a stock boy at the Hochschild Kohn department store in downtown Baltimore. He later worked as a delivery driver and line worker at several Baltimore breweries, including National and Gunther.

In 1941, he joined the Fire Department, where he became captain of Truck 24 and had command of the firehouse at Eastern Avenue and Anglesea Street. He received a medal for heroism for rescuing people from a burning building, his son said. Mr. Bocklage retired in 1976.

Mr. Bocklage became a Boy Scout in 1927 and was an adult leader with Troops 8, 15 and 109 in Southeast Baltimore. He was proud that so many of his sons achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.

His fifth son, Anthony J. Bocklage, was a few merit badges shy of the honor when, as a senior at the Johns Hopkins University, he died of cancer in 1958.

A Mass of Christian burial was held Saturday at Sacred Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church in Dundalk.

Mr. Bocklage is survived by his wife of 63 years, Elizabeth Brazis Bocklage; three other sons, Joseph T. Bocklage of Somerset, N.J., Edward T. Bocklage of Glen Rock, Pa., and Lt. Col. Brian F. Bocklage of Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; and four grandchildren.

Elsewhere

Julius J. Epstein, 91, a prolific Hollywood writer whose reworking of a little-known stage play earned him and his co-writers the 1943 Academy Award for "Casablanca," died Saturday in Los Angeles.

Mr. Epstein was born Aug. 22, 1909, in New York City and teamed with his twin brother, Philip, on numerous scripts for movie comedies and melodramas, often adapted from stage shows.

"Casablanca," which won the brothers the 1943 Academy Award for best screenplay, had its origins in an unproduced play called "Everybody Comes to Rick's."

A handful of writers worked on the script, but the Epstein brothers and writer Howard Koch - who also shared the screenwriting Oscar - have been recognized as the screenplay's main authors. The film also won awards for best picture and best director.

The enduring popularity of "Casablanca" surprised Mr. Epstein, who repeatedly said he viewed it as just another movie in the vast Warner Bros. assembly line of the early 1940s.

After his brother's death in 1952, Mr. Epstein continued his solo screenwriting career.

He received Academy Award nominations in 1972 for "Pete 'n' Tillie" and in 1983 for his adaptation of the novel "Reuben, Reuben."

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