Why A Loud Horn Used to Sound Twice Daily from the Brewer Auditorium
It used to happen twice a day in Brewer when a loud blast would sound from a horn mounted on the auditorium. But why?
When I was a very young child, I remember hearing the horn clearly from my house on Silk Street. As a matter of fact, sometimes my mother would get startled by the horn and quietly comment how she wished they'd quit it. I remember asking her why it blew and she would tell me that the second horn, which sounded at 9:00, was a curfew for kids. All children were supposed to be home by that time and off the streets of Brewer. But I'm not sure if she ever explained the first horn to me, which sounded each day at noon.
So I went to Facebook and asked the question on the 'You Knew You Grew Up in Brewer, Maine' page. I got several answers, including one from a friend who is a retired member of the Air National Guard in Bangor. He told me that the first horn was testing the 'duck and cover' alarm. See, a long time ago, they used to conduct air raid drills in schools, where students were required to duck under their desks, in the event of an enemy attack. I'm not sure what that was supposed to do other than make the desk fall on your head, but it seemed to make sense to people at the time. By the time I went to school, this practice had been suspended.
Other long-term residents of Brewer informed me that it was testing the horn for the volunteer firefighters. I'd completely forgotten that the horn also sounded when there was a fire in Brewer. Each person's address had a code, and the horn sounded out the code so volunteer firefighters would know where to find the blaze. (back before the days of cellphones) I remember that my family had a card on the side of the refrigerator that identified the codes, so we'd run and check it anytime a fire alarm sounded.
The 82-year-old building is now called the Joseph L. Ferris Community Center, and the horn is long gone. But, to me, that red brick structure will always be known as the World Famous Brewer Auditorium.
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