In our neighborhood we had homes that were built in the fifties, any deviation from the original design was thought to be an upgrade. A few owners decided to give the street the finger and build their own version of a house. They were carpenters and masons who would do just about anything to make their house look and be different. That was my house, with one striking difference. We did it within the confines of being a cape and the work was done by an HVAC guy. Being different was good, or so we thought, in the Farber house. I am still, not so sure.
I always thought it was enough to be so close to the firehouse that your hair stood up at 12 o’clock each day when the siren went off. It told the mean streets of Rumson what time it was. It also blew when there was a fire so the volunteers could save us. Hearing the siren always formed the same response. You looked up. As if you could see where the sound was coming from no matter where you were. Next, you waited. After the initial blow was over we listened for a second one. If it went off again you knew it was a fire. One blow meant it was only the time signal. After the one blow, we said, ”twelve o’clock” like we were the only people on earth who had 12 o’clock and a siren to tell us. It was as much a special part of my neighborhood as having an 07760 zip or an 842 prefix on your phone number.
About 3/4 of a mile down the street was the First Aid Station. It had its own siren that scared the shit out of us when it went off. It didn’t tell time but only went off when there was an emergency. Usually a car accident with injuries. This one sounded like the bird in Bedrock on the Flinstones but was really, really loud.
Loud sires and emergency vehicles had to be near the men who would use them to help others, that’s why they were never in the wealthy parts of town. Heaven forbid there was a firehouse on Sailors Way or Club Way. Who would hear the siren? Who would put out the fire? Who would come? Checks in the mail don’t make any noise!