The Switch

The SwitchThis is for those of us who grew up in Small Town America near one of those dreadful fire sirens parked on top of utility poles. The 4 sirens that were strategically placed around the quiet Western New York Village of Perry are now sitting in the four corners of the Perry Fire Department Museum at the Perry Village Park. This very switch came from the northeast corner of Lake and North Federal Streets – adjacent to the Vet’s Club.

The Beckary Homestead was approximately 50 yards from this switch & it’s noisy siren partner which inflicted a significant amount of trauma on us at all hours of the day or night with no notice when it would go off.

As my big brother Albert and I got a little older and a little taller we discovered THE SWITCH.  There were occasions when the entire system Village-wide stuck on – at which time one of the tall “Beckary Boys” gladly ran to the base of that damn siren and flipped the switch!  The Switch was about 8 feet off the ground – barely in reach for two six foot plus teenage boys. As the siren wound down from it’s horrible decibel level appreciation would come from many of our neighbors prompting a bow from Al or me.

In later years the four sirens were decommissioned and a louder, single, central siren was placed on top of the Fire Hall downtown.  Since that time I have always wanted to acquire that switch.  During a visit home in July 2011 I asked retired Police Chief Jurkowski who could grant me permission to get my prize. The Chief directed me to “Mr. Perry Fire Department” Mike Laraby.  After several attempts to catch Mike I found him meeting with the Village Maintenance Boss Ed Koziel & Village Admin Terry Murphy.  I knew all three of them from my early years in Perry.  After a quick discussion between these powers-to-be, permission was granted and Ed suggested I meet him at the Village maintenance building in 15 minutes!

The rest is history – literally.  The Switch has become a valuable treasure in my home as it is a very unique & special piece of Perry History.

This Blog is dedicated to those lifelong servants like Police Chief Gary and Firefighter Mike who protect Small Town America. Here we go!

Let’s consider this Ground Zero for this exercise.


  1. Clinton Otis

    Yes Pete, I remember that siren all too well just like you, although we, the Otis Family household, were further away than the Beckary family household, but the only thing in between us and what we all called, “that friggen siren”, was just a couple trees and the open parking lot of the Vets Club. We all hated that thing, it woke us up in the middle of the night, and then we would either have trouble falling back to sleep or not at all. Our household was just like all the rest of the Village of Perry, everyone wanted to know, first-why is that siren blowing, and second, which direction are all the fire trucks headed, and who’s place or property is in despair? LoL.. if it was during the day time you would always see, cars and kids on there bikes racing desperately to either catch up with or just follow to see where they are going. Ahhhh… LoL…. the good ole days of the Siren.

  2. Kelly Andrews Schlicht

    I am not surprised the fire siren was mentioned here. Many morning walks to school were spent discussing that nights fire call and the siren blast that woke us out of a sound sleep. The frazzled morning after and the strained looks on our faces were priceless. I am glad you have a memento of those disruptive times. Its a reminder that we all had a very good reason for being tired in school.

  3. Linda DeBrine

    I love your blogs – they bring back a lot of memories for me, too. Keep writing them – I’ll enjoy reading them. It is interesting to see how similar your experiences are to those of the previous generation of children, but not at all similar to subsequent ones. Technology has brought with it a lot of changes in the way kids interact with each other and their surroundings. I wonder what kids in Perry do for fun now. I hope they are still playing in leaves and skating at the Village Park.

    • Pete Beckary

      “Mrs. DeBrine” – you and all of my ‘former’ teachers will always have a “Mr.” or “Mrs.” in front of your last name! Thanks for adding to the nostalgia here. I get no greater pleasure than to write about those days – if only I had more time to do so. How different times are now. Please keep an eye on things here as I will be adding more in the days to come. Merry Christmas.

  4. Douglas J. Kelly

    Great writing Pete. Your remarks reflect what Perry was for many of us.

    • Pete Beckary

      Thanks, Doug – there is so much more I hope to share while bringing in thoughts and memories from others.

  5. Kelly Winter Leitten

    Pete I didn’t know you had a blog and wrote about Perry. Loved this one about the sirens. I bought a house on the corner of Federal and Tempest in 1990. The siren was still going off on that corner of Lake at that point. Great memories.


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