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Monday, 26 December 2011

Air Raid Warden

By Ralph Lymburner

Do we reminisce more as we age? It sure seems like it. It’s as though more and more I’m seeing flashbacks of what I always thought as being a relatively mundane event.

More recently it seems as though these memories are brought to the surface by stories I’ve read here in Elder Stories or in local happenings.

Recently one of the elder authors mentioned some event in WWII which triggered my memory glands. It brought forth thoughts which I hadn’t thought about for decades.

I had been a Junior Air Raid Warden (unofficially). During this era I had been seven to nine years old. At sundown, everyone had ensure that their blackout curtains were covering every place where light might shine into the night. Any little trickle of light was apt to lead the German bombers to our area where they would drop their bombs. (Portland, Maine)

The newsreels in the theaters showed what a devastation had been heaped upon the British people.

Apparently our government had instituted a program whereby civilian volunteers would patrol their neighborhood to ensure compliance with blackout instructions.

The nice man in the next apartment was our neighborhood official Air Raid Warden. He would walk around searching for blackout violators. His only weapons were a helmet, a civil defense arm band and a flashlight. This flashlight had two strips of black tape across the lens allowing only a very thin strip of light which didn’t shine upward.

This neighbor asked if I would like to be a junior warden. The job consisted of patrolling the neighborhood with him looking for light coming from any home.

He gave me a toy helmet, a home-made armband and a small flashlight. Of course I had no official authority and could only stay out until about 10PM.

This man’s generosity and patience made one young man feel as though he was participating in something very important by helping his country.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. PLEASE read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Now you have triggered my memories. We lived out in the country where it was REALLY dark--no more yard lights and black shades at the windows. The teacher at our one-room schoolhouse told us about the importance of the blackout at night. I remember huddling around the radio with my family in the evening listening both for a car without lights traveling slowly down the road checking each farmhouse for those telltale lights. The other thing I listened for were the German bombers that might be flying over in the night. Glad you were one of the ones protecting us. Very nice story.
Michigan Grandma

Wow! What a kind man he was to involve someone so young! I imagine how excited you were to feel included and needed. Great memory and thanks for sharing!

So wonderful to remember someone like that..think of the millions of gestures and words that are part of all of our lives, often so simple, but utlimately they make us the persons we become..

Living on the west coast we worried about submarines coming into our bays, but we also observed black out curtains etc. I especially remember the pails of sand on each floor of our house for dousing out fires I guess. Thanks for the memories.

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