WORLD WAR II BLACKOUT REGULATIONS

by Gordon Cornell
Town and Village Historian

  


For those of you who have traveled by air at night it is most apparent that the lights from cities and villages are an excellent guide from which to navigate an aircraft. For this reason the Federal Government required that all communities have a blackout plan in place. Broadalbin was no exception!

The following news release can be found in a copy of The Morning Herald dated January 15, 1943.

"Blackout Regulations

The Rev. Samuel W. Spear, director of Civilian Protection, was in attendance at the Fulton County War Council meeting held in Johnstown, Monday and has made an announcement to all citizens of Broadalbin and vicinity that during subsequent blackouts, the following public notification will be given:  first, a series of two blasts of the Broadalbin Knitting Mill whistle repeated four times as the first alert. At that time all persons away from home are requested to proceed to their homes at once.  On the second alert, which will be the usual fire siren and mill whistle combined, all lights must be extinguished. The third notification will be given by the fire siren only, and will indicate that the blackout is over. The public is urgently advised to prepare proper blackout facilities in case there should be a prolonged blackout owing to an air raid."

Speaking from personal experience, and as a pre-teenager at the time, these blackouts were a rather frightening occasion. These alarms brought the village to a standstill, as we laid in our beds or sat in our chairs, in TOTAL darkness, and listened attentively for the sounds of "friend or foe".  The voices of the "Air Raid Wardens" walking up the street could be heard on occasion, there was no vehicle traffic, and to make the experience a bigger concern, there was sometimes the drone of an aircraft engine to be heard in the distance. These were, of course, "friendly aircraft", but at that time you were not really sure!

The street lights throughout the Village were on a separate circuit and were turned off at the New York Power and Light Co. substation on School Street. I also remember well the box of 12 blackout candles that were in our home ready for use if needed. They were to be used only in a medical emergency, the candle was about 2 inches high and had to be set in the bottom of a pail so that the light would shine up to the ceiling and not outward. The windows and doors had to be covered completely so as to allow no light to escape to the outdoors. If any light was observed by the wardens they were quick to respond with heavy footsteps and loud knocking on your door informing you that this light must be extinguished immediately.

  


Submitted by Betty Tabor, Mayfield Historian, a newspaper clipping:

DO-NOTS for BLACKOUTS

In order to insure better protection to the citizens of this community, the Gloversville National Defense Council urges everyone to carefully note the list of logical regulations and to make every effort to abide by them.

DO NOT   use flashlights during blackouts except in extreme emergency and then use them sparingly.

DO NOT   light or burn out-door fires of any kind after sundown. Such a fire may serve as a beacon to our enemies.

DO NOT   leave any unguarded lights burning on signs, displays or business places after the close of business hours.

DO NOT   light any cigars, cigarettes or pipes in the open or near any windows where it can be seen during a blackout.

DO NOT   loiter on streets during an emergency. If you cannot get home, seek the nearest shelter and remain there until the "all clear" is sounded.

DO NOT   run during an emergency. Walking is much safer.

DO NOT   telephone during an emergency or after. Only in actual emergency.

DO NOT   operate your car with or without lights after an alarm is sounded. Pull to the curb, lock and leave your car until the "all clear" signal.

DO NOT   dispute the protective authorities. They are your friends and are trying to serve you.

DO NOT   get excited. Keep calm and cool

ABOVE ALL THINGS

Cooperate fully with all protective authorities.  They are working for your welfare; but they must have your whole hearted assistance.

 


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Copyright 2001, Gordon Cornell
Copyright 2001, Betty Tabor
Copyright 2001, Allyn Hess Perry, Jeanette Shiel
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Last updated Tuesday, 13-May-2008 13:37:52 PDT