No matter how many references to the past I toss out on “06880,” alert readers always offer more. They dredge up memories buried deeper than the old town dump upon which the Westport Library now sits.
The other day, for example, I mentioned the former Vigilant Firehouse. It’s that slender structure on Wilton Road, in the parking lot behind the Inn at National Hall.
The story was about 2 new restaurants moving to the area, but Doug Bond pounced on the building. Though he now lives in San Francisco, the story brought him back to his 1970s childhood on Edge Hill Road.
That’s the street that runs between Wilton Road and North Kings Highway. (It’s a fantastic little shortcut, though folks who live there always fume when I mention it publicly. So I won’t.)
A firehouse siren, Doug reminded me, blared every day at 5 p.m. It also sounded for every big fire, summoning volunteers to help fight the blaze.
The code, Doug says, was also published in the phone book. (I never knew that.) (If you don’t know what a “phone book” is, ask your parents.)
He remembers the terror he felt when 4 consecutive blasts — the signal for his part of town — rang out.
That code was also used by other firehouses in town. One night, home from college, I was awakened by a series of blasts. Things were ominous. I forget how I knew out the code, but I got up and drove a short distance from High Point to the Post Road.
Sure enough, the bowling alley — now Pier 1, near V Restaurant — was ablaze. You haven’t seen a real fire until you’ve seen bowling pins — sparked by the lacquered lanes — fly out through what used to be a roof.
I guess if you grew up in Westport, listening to fire sirens was a ritual we all shared.
Today, Doug notes, we find out where the fire is by checking our tweets.