Pinch of Time

August 8, 2012

Old directory reveals history

Give me a good auction or a flea market, and I’m on the hunt for that “surprise” purchase — something I probably don’t need but would love to find.

One such surprise ended up at the bottom of a box of odds and ends. It must have been a purchase I made a long time ago, because when I found the box in the closet, I didn’t think it was mine. Then one item caught my eye.

It’s a 1950-51 fire and emergency directory for Plattsburg, no “h.” Businesses were solicited to pay a certain price to have their names and other information listed on the 7-by-14-inch cardboard. The advantage being you were advertising your business and perhaps saving somebody’s life with the emergency numbers.

According to the directory, there were fire-alarm boxes in the city. Each one was assigned a number. Brinkerhoff and Catherine streets held box number 13; number 25 was at the corner of Margaret Street and the Lozier car plant; number 231 was at the “new” high school on Broad Street; 252 was at St. Peter’s College on North Catherine Street; and 423 was at the Children’s Home on Bailey Avenue.

In addition, the sidelines state: “Out of town calls shall be two courses of 2-2-2; the inhalator (what’s an inhalator?) call shall be 1-2; there shall be one imaginary box at Scomotion Avenue, No. 26; … one imaginary box at the fairgrounds, No. 45; and … one imaginary box at West Cornelia Street, No. 18.” Imaginary boxes? Is that for imaginary fires?

This directory was printed in the days when not too many people had telephones. Phones were identified with between one and four numbers. The way to reach some of the advertisers: L.C. Bolles Inc., 42-44 Court St., phone 121 for sales and 245 for service; The Corner Book Store, 110 Margaret St., Eastman Kodaks, supplies, films, flash-holders, bulbs, everything for photography, phone 755; R.A. Trombley, groceries, meats, fruits, manufacturer of potato chips delivered to your door, 47 Miller St., phone 577.

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