TEST BRINGS SUDDEN BLACKOUT HERE
Respond Swiftly To Alarm; Called Success By Local County
wailed, whistles blew and lights dimmed until inky blackness
prevailed as the communities here joined the rest of
Westchester County in the second all-county blackout
test, lasting 77 minutes, was declared a success by
local and county officials, despite the fact that there
was no advanced warning. Word that the first “yellow”
signal had been given spread rapidly through Mamaroneck,
Larchmont in the unincorporated area after it was received
at 8:03 PM.
units shortly thereafter began mobilizing and by the
time the final “red” signal came through
at 8:49 P.M., auxiliary policeman, wardens, medical
and transportation corps, another defense workers were
usual number of “isolated instances,” where
residents had left cellar or attic lights burning, or
where smoldering brush fires attracted attention, were
reported, but no serious incident arose, defense officials
of the three local communities said.
weird effect was obtained by the resumption of traffic
on the Boston Post Road within about fifteen minutes
after the original alarm through. The traffic, mostly
outbound from New York, moved with dimmed headlights
at speeds varying from 15 to 20 miles an hour.
in taverns and other public gathering places remained
indoors during the blackout, as did the patrons of the
two local theaters. The management at each theater requested
the patrons to remain indoors .
Larchmont and the unincorporated area used telephones
and messengers to summon defense workers to duty. Mamaroneck
Village used the fire whistle signal 1-1-4, denoting
a local emergency. It was sounded on the blue signal
at 8:31 PM.
word that the test would come Tuesday spread rapidly
Tuesday through civilian defense channels but by 8:00
P.M. nine-tenths of Westchester’s residents did
not know for sure when the signal would come.
Council chairman Frederick L. Devereux expressed himself
as satisfied with the results. He said that the excellent
cooperation by all citizens was a “demonstration
of democracy at work” and declared that other
unannounced blackouts and mobilizations would be held
to accustom residents to the procedures.
yellow “alert” signal was flashed from the
district at 8:00 PM and resulted in sending into the
streets thousands of civilian defense workers who hastened
to their posts. Thirty minutes later the second, blue
warning flashed, followed at 8:50 by the red alarm.
sky was overcast and starless as lights started to dim
out. Some householders were prepared for the blackout
and lights disappeared immediately. Soon street lights
went out and within six minutes the cities and towns
of the county were dark, with a pinpoint of light flashing
momentarily from one place or another.
many cases the tip-off on the coming test was the failure
of wardens, of auxiliary police and others to show up
at first aid classes and meetings.
few minutes after the blue alert went out, as arm-banded
wardens appeared, streets were filled with running men
and women attempting to get home before the blackout
came. All civilians not engaged in defense work were
forced to remain off the streets for the 77 minutes
Lawrence Liss, assistant deputy director of the State
Defense Council, observed the practice from the top
of the nine-story County Office Building in White Plains.
He said it was an impressive show with 98 percent of
the lights out in four minutes.
audience of 5,000 attending the prizefights at the County
Center were able to remain in the well-prepared building
and the show went on uninterrupted. Most of them did
not know when the blackout began.
radio provided a running account of the blackout, beginning
with the wail of the siren at 8:51, continuing with
the broadcast of reports from defense headquarters,
and a news account at 8:22.
of the members of the Bronxville American Legion hold
defense jobs, and Julian Bryan, invited to speak at
their meeting Tuesday, found himself talking to an almost
empty house. Most of the Legionnaires left the meeting
when the alert was sounded..
traffic was halted as soon as the alarms were sounded.
After a fifteen-minute wait, authorities permitted trucks
and automobiles on Routes 1 and 9, the Boston and Albany
Post Roads, to continue. The roads were kept open so
the trucks carrying food and war materials in and out
of New York City would not be interfered with. Traffic
moved slowly through Port Chester and Ossining, but
was jammed in Yonkers.
in defense plants experienced some difficulty in getting
through the county. Several men in Bridgeport plants
were halted frequently on their way north, and permitted
to pass when they exhibited identification badges. Officials
are considering giving such workers civilian defense
insignia to use while crossing the county.
minor automobile crashes were reported. One was in Mount
Pleasant. The second, in Newcastle, involved cars driven
by civilian defense workers. No one was injured.
black-out babies were born during the period. One, the
daughter of Mr. And Mrs. George Heimerer, was born in
saint Agnes Hospital, White Plains. Another was the
daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Polancci, born in New
most exciting was the arrival of the daughter at the
home of Mr. And Mrs. Harry Gordon in Peekskill as planned.
The doctor arrived through the blackout just before
9:30, but Mr. Gordon had to leave the house he was an
air raid warden.
fourth baby was a son born in Mount Vernon Hospital
at 10:00 to Mr. and Mrs. Frank J. Sutton Jr. of the
in the vicinity of fort Slocum heard a siren wail at
8:34 and many of them blacked out immediately. Twenty
minutes later they heard many sirens and whistles sounding
and turned on their lights, figuring the blackout was
over. Wardens informed them that the blackout was just
check followed that the Army’s system at Fort
Slocum is to blow the siren on the blue signal, to herald
the alert. Then, when the red alarm comes through, the
longest siren wails are sounded.
over the county residents were forced to remain in railroad
stations until the white all clear came through. Trains,
most of them with headlights dimmed, deposited the passengers
at the station, but buses and other transportation were
tied up. Most people were good natured about it, it
was reported by wardens.
failed to reply to the warning signals. The Scarsdale
alarm went out, however, and it was discovered that
it had acted on the police teletype system rather than
on the civilian defense telephone system.
town of Mount Pleasant’s warning center failed
to telephone Westchester Penitentiary, warning center
for the Grasslands Institutions. It sent a message to
the chief wardens home, but he was not there. The holdup
resulted in a lag of 17 minutes before the institutions
responded to the yellow alert. Lights, however, were
blacked out six minutes after the alarm was sounded.
all over worked like beavers as they reported on black-out
effectiveness and warned persons who had lights showing.
were slower going on than going out, and officials believe
that many persons went to bed during the hour test.
Plains beat the blackout deadline by a few hours and
passed blackout regulations carrying fines for violators.
The Hastings-on-Hudson Village Board passed similar
ordinances during the blackout in their blacked-out
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