By Mel McConaghy
Last week my brother came out from Alberta for a visit.
At least he said it was just a visit, but I think he was just trying to lure me out to the lucrative end of the Enbridge pipeline. But, I was not enticed to leave my town for the windy city of Lethbridge. Even though I am use to walking on side hills, I don’t think I could get use to walking at that angle due to the continuous winds of the bald headed prairies.
During one of our discussions, we were talking about growing up in Prince George, and he said, “Why don’t you write a story about the curfew they had in Prince George, that helped keep under-aged crime levels down to a manageable level?” Now, this took me by surprise, because when I was under sixteen, I recalled the hideous wail of the siren that sat up on top of the old fire hall.
At nine fifteen, every evening, that siren could be heard throughout the entire city. Its sound was amplified by neighborhood dogs harmonizing with it, waking sleeping babies and upsetting their mothers. Although all of us kids who were under sixteen never paid much attention to it, it was very unsettling for the people who had recently emigrated to Prince George from war torn Europe. When I decided that I was going to do a story about the curfew, I went to all my usual sources for information, older people I was sure would know when it started, and when it stopped. But, to no avail. Everyone that grew up during the time of the curfew, had the same lasting memory of it. Nothing! Then I talked to a lady well versed in our city’s history, but she didn’t know either. However, she was a compassionate person (and maybe felt sorry for me), so she fired up her computer to go online, and what she came up with almost blew me away!
Now, there was no reference as to when, or why, the curfew was initially put into place, but it stayed in effect right up to 1962. I think that originally the siren was installed to warn Prince George that it was being invaded during World War Two, but I just can’t say for sure. She also found out the curfew subject had a way of tying up city council meetings, and at one point they relented, extending the curfew from nine fifteen, to nine forty five. The curfew was discontinued, and reinstated on many occasions, and for many reasons. One of the main reasons for its reinstatement, was reportedly to stem an increase of juvenile crime that was ‘running wild’ in the city. At another point in Prince George’s history, the mayor’s wife (at the time) complained that it woke up the aforementioned sleeping babies. I quote old Will Shakespeare, ‘Much ado about nothing’.
My Life Through a Broken Windshield by Mel McConaghy
Mel McConaghy is a retired trucker and author from Prince George, British Columbia. Mel’s tales are his views of life “through a broken windshield”. They are entertaining and humorous in a folksy style.
Visit Mel’s website at www.melmcconaghy.com