We Interrupt This Broadcastby Joe Garner ã 1998 SourceBooks is a great way to relive the memorable moments of the 1900’s. Reliving memories is what the Fairfax Historical Society did during a couple of meetings in 1999. 2 audio CDs are included in the book with the actual radio or TV broadcast of the event as it happened or as the world first learned about it. The book covers a lot from the Hindenburg Disaster to the death of Princess Diana. While the Society didn’t get through the whole book, they did shed some light on how national events had its effect of local history.
May 6, 1937 – The Hindenburg Explodes
Win McNall remembers hearing the reports on the radio but for Henry Raymond up in Fairfield, communications had not fully evolved as there was no electricity in the area.
December 7, 1941 – Pearl Harbor is attacked
This brought out a lot of memories about World War II and how it impacted Fairfax and its current residents. Both Larry Parsons and Albert Rich heard President Roosevelt on the radio. Mike Cain remembered his high school history teacher, Bernie Kuhn, had posters of newspapers on the walls of the classroom. Some of the posters told of the blackouts ordered on the West coast following Pearl Harbor. Blackout drills also took place in Fairfax on a monthly basis. Larry Parsons was a boy during the war and his mother, Freda, was a civil defense worker as a spotter for enemy planes. Larry was a messenger during one drill, delivering a message from the spotters post on Fairfax Plains to command center, located at Bellows Free Academy. Riding his bicycle down School Street, Larry was going along when suddenly –WHOMP – he found town constable Vern Melendy laying across the handlebars.
Anne Marie Shepard-Parent use to stay with her grandmother in Quebec City in Canada. There, they used to have blackouts and air raid drills where, when a siren sounded you would take your family down into the basement for shelter. Old habits die hard. After moving to Fairfax in the early 80’s, Anne-Marie was awakened in the middle of the night by a loud siren being broadcast throughout the village. Properly trained, she got up, gathered her young children, and made her way to a safe place in the basement, to be followed by her bewildered husband, Ron.
"What are you doing?"
"THERE’S AN AIR RAID!"
"No, there isn’t. That’s the fire alarm. There is a fire somewhere."
For Paul Lavallee, he told how his father would go into a stairwell, close the doors at the top and bottom of the stairs, turn on the light, and read the newspaper during the blackouts.
It was also discussed how local residents used to work as spotters at the Georgia High Bridge. They would walk the railroad tracks looking for possible saboteurs or enemy aircraft.
April 12, 1945 – President Roosevelt dies
Margie Cain told how her mother, Gene, was terrified by the death of FDR, as he was the only president she had ever known.
October 4, 1957 – Sputnik launched by Soviets
Larry Parsons told how he was with some guys using a walkie-talkie. They were at Joe Peloquin’s sawmill on Mill Street. Larry and others were on the roof of the sawmill, while some were down the road talking back and forth on the radios. Suddenly, Russian voices were being heard for a few seconds over the radios. The boys believed the voices were the result of Sputnik passing overhead.
February 20, 1962 – John Glenn orbits Earth
Al Daniels remembered watching the lift off in a special assembly in the lunchroom as a 7th grader in Tampa, Florida.
Margie Cain told of a young Bosnian refugee boy in Burlington who has taken John Glenn as his hero. In 1999 when Glenn returned to space, students from around the country submitted art works that were put in the space shuttle with Glenn. The young Bosnian, Mirnes Pasic had some of his work included. He told Margie that he wanted to be an F16 fighter pilot for the US and then an astronaut just like John Glenn.
October 22, 1962 – The Cuban Missile Crisis
Al Daniels remembered doing drills in school where when an alarm would ring, the kids would crawl under the desks. Paul Lavallee recalled, as an IBM employee, radios were not allowed in the workplace. However, one employee had a relative involved in the crisis, so IBM allowed that person to have a radio and listen to updates at his workstation. Larry Parsons told how even though people around Fairfax took the crisis very seriously, they went along with their daily lives.
Margie Cain told how not only did the residents of this country take it very seriously, but it was terrifying for people all over the world. Sue Lamphere, now a resident of Fairfax, told Margie that all of the children in her elementary school in England were terrified that the world was going to come to an end that day. Many children were crying and calling for their parents. Her teacher calmed her class by telling them that if he thought that the world was going to end that day he would have stayed home with his wife and children. But since he was there with them everything was going to be okay.
November 22, 1963 - President Kennedy assassinated
Pauline Lavallee was shopping with a friend on Williston Road is S. Burlington when they heard that JFK was shot. They had gone into Robert Hall’s, bought a coat, came out and the heard the President had died. She also recalled how her son, David, who was 3 years old, never left the TV set all through the aftermath. He never asked a lot of questions, but new something big was happening and was quite taken in by all the pomp and circumstance.
For Al Daniels it was a case of missed opportunity. As a freshman in high school in Tampa, Florida, Al and some friends took the day off from school to go and listen to a visiting President Kennedy make a speech. At least that is what they told everyone. Instead of going to the speech they went to the mall, the beach, and generally played hooky. A couple of weeks later the President made the fateful trip to Dallas. Al now wishes he had gone to the speech.
November 24, 1963 – Lee Harvey Oswald shot
Everyone who watched it on television, expressed shock over what they had seen. It was so sudden and was the first time anything so real and live had happened on television…
As mentioned, the Society did not get through the entire book but it did prove that national events do have impact on everyday small town life.