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Amsterdam, NY ,



Main Street

Saturday, July 26, 2014 - Updated: 4:09 AM

Why Cause Alarm?

At the time the $136 disappeared from the County Clerk's office, some people were of the opinion that county offices in Fonda should be equipped with burglar alarms. It seemed like a good idea. But, on the other hand, if they didn't keep the burglar alarm system in better condition than they keep the fire alarm system up there, it wouldn't accomplish much.

The whole thing is so unbelievable that I am willing to stand corrected if you boys of the Fonda department will only say that I have been given a bum steer -- about the garage fire Tuesday noon, I mean. They are saying that when Al Luciano peeked out from his grocery truck and spied the smoke, he made a dash for the nearest alarm box. In addition to breaking a speed record, he broke the glass, but that was all. It wouldn't work. And then he dashed down Broadway to the next box where the same thing happened. Another record and another glass were smashed, but still the siren was mute as the harp that hung on Tara's walls (the only Harp that ever was mute, too).

Al started down Main Street in the direction of the fire station. On the outside of this building is nailed another alarm box, and the alarmist yanked the handle with a sincerity that rocked the venerable landmark to its foundations. In spite of all, the silence was profound -- except in the vicinity of the burning garage, where increasingly loud cracklings indicated that something would have to be done before long or several nearby structures would go up in smoke.

The spectators went into consultation. When last seen, Al had been turning the corner in the direction of the fire station. No alarm had been given, but it was reasonable to suppose that he was doing his best. Many a fire has been put out without aid of a siren, and they hoped he would soon return with the truck and some hose. A one-man fire department is nothing to brag about, but these are times when the old saying about half a loaf has to be taken seriously. They had confidence in Al -- all but one cautious citizen (they say it was Ed Sheehan) who slid away to phone for the Fultonville department.

Well, to make a long story still longer, they finally got there. All of 'em -- Al and his truck, the Fultonville boys and their truck, and a large crown of volunteers. The blaze was extinguished, the nearby buildings were saved and the citizens retired to their homes confident that they live in a community where false alarms are practically unknown. A few boxes may get smashed up now and then -- but what's a little thing like that?


Sunday morning dawned glorious along nature's beauty spot -- Lake Galway. Huge clouds of fog rolled away to disclose the palatial summer home of Sir Jeems de Quinlan, grand duke of Whissbangia. Out of the stillness came the sound of voices ...

Not a bad introduction for a novel, eh? Or it might do for a mystery. But this yarn concerns a tragedy, so we start in by telling you that the huge clouds were caused by a spray gun loaded with one of the numerous commercial preparations found on the market. The Grand Duke had scratched himself into a frenzy during the church service and an investigation of the camp showed it to be covered with small pests not unlike chicken lice. Hence the huge clouds of oleic moisture. Hence the S.O.S. call for the neighbors.

The board of strategy, including Benny Thackrah and Joe Rothmund, thought it had located the trouble when two birds' nests were spotted on the roof of the camp. Benny made a dash for his ladder and Jim quickly scaled it. The nests were destroyed and a royal salute was fired (a giant firecracker left over from the Fourth) causing his royal highness to become frightened and topple from his perch. When he was revived (they used the spray gun on him) he gave orders to his royal consort, Anne I, to crochet a couple of nests. These will be used to replace the destroyed habitations of the feathered families -- homes far more sanitary than the birds might build, because they can be deloused without harm.

With the inside and outside of the camp completely sprayed, the attacking forces rested (on their laurels) and the commander-in-chief passed around the cigarettes. And they say that, in spite of the advertisements telling how good this particular brand is for the nerves, his hand was shaking.


Perhaps the Poughkeepsie Star and Enterprise columnist can make more out of this one than I can. To begin with, the hero is one Dave Murray of the city (you might know that he isn't an Amsterdamian from this yarn) who visited the Mullarkey boys on Pearl Street over the weekend. He was in good condition when he hit this city and Sunday morning found him hobbling to church.

Too much whoopee; say you. Wrong, say I -- too much praying. They noticed the light on in his room about 9 a.m. and an investigation showed that he was still on his knees after a long night. Waking him up was one thing and getting him up was another, but they finally succeeded in straightening him out.

In case any of you Main Streeters think a thing like this is too personal to print, let me explain that I am happy to introduce a fellow like Dave to you. There can be no denial that it has a moral, and some of you young lads and lasses who never acquired that excellent and honorable habit of getting down on your knees every night can let your grin fade in the realization that perhaps your life would be made fuller by this practice.

It takes a lot of effort to get off your knees after you've been on them all night -- but not nearly as much as that gumption needed to get down on them at the end of a hard day. Try it tonight and see for yourself.

This was first published July 26, 1934.


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