It was a dark and stormy night. . . . No really, it was! The snow was tumbling down in big, fat wet flakes and the wind was blowing. Alright, no wind, but lots of snow and it felt stormy. I know this because – somewhere close to mid-night as I recall, I was out walking down my street searching for signs of life and anyone who could explain the reason for the three long, heart-stopping siren blasts that had just jolted me out of bed.
A relative newcomer to Maupin, I’d already become acquainted with the noon whistle, the speaker for which is perched on a stand near City Hall and the Library. My 10-month-old grandson and I were just walking up the steps to the library when this blast-from-the-past triggered a melt-down. His, not mine. Now immune to its effects, I’ve come to love this historic marker of the noon lunch hour—a left over from the days when the now-defunct lumber mill blew the whistle to announce lunchtime. Fortunately, City Fathers and the town opted to discontinue the 10:00 pm curfew siren sometime around the late 1980s.
But on this snowy night, I didn’t know whether to get my Go-Bag and evacuate, duck-and-cover, or just have a drink and brace for Armageddon. Yes, I exaggerate, but growing up in areas accustomed to hurricanes and tornados and having spent time in Cannon Beach, where a siren blast signals a tsunami, I am predisposed to think in terms of natural disasters.
My first clue to this not being Armageddon, was total calm. Either the end had come and I’d missed it or it wasn’t happening. The latter proved to be the case. The only people up and about were the newbies to our street who had noticed a fire truck headed up the hill. I got a text from another newbie a few blocks away and they were also going out to search.
Turns out all the long-time residents knew this was simply the announcement of a local emergency, in this case a fire that ended up being taken care of with a fire-extinguisher. According to Rod Woodside, owner of the service station which I’ve come think of as the heart-beat of Maupin, there used to be different signal patterns to indicate the type of emergency, but that has long since ended. Now, the blast is intended to alert the town, including Volunteer Fire Fighters and First Responders, who call or are contacted by the station for details.
There are those who think the siren should just go-away, while others suggest a less ear-splitting announcement: bells maybe. Cannon Beach has a novel approach for the public test of the tsunami-warning-system. In choosing a test-sound, the powers-that-be thought it best to have choose one that would get everyone’s attention, but not precipitate full–scale mayhem of the thousands of tourist wandering the streets and the beach. In case of a real even it’s the full-blast-siren, but the test sound is . . . wait for it . . . the mass-mooing of cows. So now, instead of running for the hills, beachgoers look for the stampede. So much better.
Welcome to Maupin folks! I love this town and all of the markers of simpler times, strong community, and good people.
by Nancy Wesson