by Sam Porcello
Reading the 1944 Transportation Committee of the Hartford War Council report on the Circus Fire from the State archives, Aetna Florist was listed as providing a delivery van to the scene of the fire to be used to transport the injured. In fact, Lucille Grady, who was in her twenties at the time, ran her brother’s florist business while they were away at war, and drove the van to the scene of the fire. (Prior to leaving for the Navy in 1942, Herman and Howard decided to convert one of the delivery trucks into an ambulance.)
I checked the Aetna Ambulance website, read about the company’s history, and emailed members of management to find out more. Aetna management got back to me right away, answered a lot of my questions and also put me in touch with Dianne Grady Evans, daughter and niece of Howard and Herman Grady, founders of Aetna Ambulance.