Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Fire Whistles

I'll tell you something that is missing these days - fire whistles. Back in the days when communications were simpler (but after the days of the Indians waving a blanket over a smoky bonfire), there were loud whistles mounted on a telegraph pole outside every fire house. The town was divided into many areas and each area had a unique signal. For instance, ours was 3-pause-3-pause-3. They would toot the "area code" several times so all the volunteers were sure to hear it. This saved them going to the fire house to find out where the fire was. Every year the would publish a list of all the "codes" and areas. Thus, chasing a fire was a much easier and bigger recreation than it is now. Besides, going to a fire didn't interrupt any TV show since there were none of them to interrupt. Now, if ten or fifteen minutes went by and you heard the same signal repeated, it meant "Hey!, this is a big one. All you volunteers who haven't responded, get your butts out here"

At that point, my mother, always the sport, would throw on some clothes and hop in the car and head for the excitement. She would take me if I got to the car in time, but she wouldn't wait for a laggard. I was always embarrassed when my pajama pants showed below my trouser legs. Those were the days!


kenju said...

I don't remember whistles where I lived as a child, but I do remember hearing an alarm signal from some of the chemical plants that were nearby, whenever there was a chemical spill or a problem. I'd rather NOT hear those! LOL

Archana said...

Wow - this is interesting! I have never heard of a fire whistle before...

p.s. I am so glad to see you posting frequently - yaaaay :-D!