WW II Air Raid Observation Posts (1941)

 

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Town of Sodus set up 2 Air Raid Observation Posts (see above for an example of one set up on Long Island). They were located at the Charles Morton Farm (I believe on Route 88, just south of the Village of Sodus on the knoll north of what is now Beckens’ Fruit Farm  and another at the DeBadts Farm on Centenary Road). They were manned for most of the war. Read the Thursday, December 11, 1941 Sodus Record article about them. Use the + and – buttons to zoom in and out:

Record, Page1, 1941-12-11 (1)

 

Before the end of the War other Air Raid Observation Posts were created.

Here are some memories of those Observation Posts:

Michael A. Stell There was one spotter post on Route 88, just south of the Village of Sodus on the knoll north of Gerry Beckens’ house, on what was the Morton residence and the Danny Johnson fruit farm. My Grandmother, Hattie Teetor, was a spotter and, according to my sister Teeny, she and my other sister, Jackie, used to walk out there from the Village, and my grandmother would let them use her binoculars to watch for enemy planes. That would’ve been in the 1944 time period also. I also seem to remember that there was a spotter post on Green’s Hill, on the west side of the Village, above what used to be old 104 and is now Rt.88 in front of the now closed Rawden Gas Station and Dairy Bar.

Herbert Kallusch There was at least one other one. The one I recall was on the Proseus Farm property , Lake Road, in what was an open field near the bank of the Lake (note: Glenn Proseus does not recall this being on his family’s property). My Mom, Helen Kallusch, and other ladies, stood watches there. In a sense, I think that I could have been referred to as the “Junior Officer of the Watch,” on a few occasions as I was there with my Mom. The time frame was about 1943 or 1944, I think, as I was born September 1939. I recall seeing an enemy aircraft identification chart posted on the wall and a telephone. I think that there was a stove or heater of some sort. I think that the watch was either two hours or four hours in length. I don’t recall how frequently my Mom’s name occurred on the Watch Bill. I am sure that performing that duty was voluntary. No enemy aircraft were sighted and I am unsure if any friendly aircraft were sighted, but I assume that some were from time to time.

 

Some of the Air Raid Observation Posts continued on after World War 2 to serve the same purpose  during the Cold War with Russia. Such a case was the Observation Post on the top of Orchard Terrace hill as told by Bob Pearson in Stinky’s Tales Pages 480-482:

Cold War 0.P.—Mom was a patriot

Long after my father came home from navy service during World War II, our family was still involved in service to the nation. My mother volunteered to work in the Civilian Patrol observation post at the very top of the Orchard Terrace hill at the very end of the known road at the time. The time was the late 1940s or early 1950s, and Orchard Terrace was not the lengthy street it is in the twenty-first century. Back then once you reached where Paul Shaver, a chemistry teacher at the high school, and Mrs. Alling of Alling and Lander corporate fame-built homes on the street, you were at the end of known civilization!

Beyond the last homes and up a dirt road was found a water tower and an old silver metal-skinned trailer. The water tower kept the water pressure at acceptable levels on the steep street during the summer months when water was used heavily by canning factories and homes. The reservoir was across the village on the other large hill called Green’s Hill. Green’s Hill and Orchard Terrace were the two natural landmarks between which the village nestled.

This water pressure and a chronic low summer capacity situation were both remedied when the water was pumped from Lake Ontario during the mid-century. This change from dependence upon the spring fed, old reservoir came after a voter referendum was passed to allow for pump stations and pipes to come across farms along the lake and to the village.

Let’s go back to the trailer on top of the windy hill. It could be reached by driving or, as my mother and I did several times, by walking up Orchard Terrace. The trailer was a small Air Stream look-alike and had a phone, electricity, a small heater and little else. When a volunteer would report for duty in 1948, the enemy was communism and volunteers would be looking for the planes of the USSR. I am not sure how long it took for the people in charge of manning the trailer to decide how futile the duty was, but perhaps it came when the United States established radar lines across Canada. The early warning line, as it was called in the cold war, was an early warning string of radar stations developed to prevent a surprise attack from over the North Pole from the USSR.

 My mother had served during World War II in the same trailer. At that time, she was looking for Japanese or German planes attacking from out in the lake or from Canada. Historians point out how impossible that would have been for the enemy; but during the war caution took priority over all else. During the time she spent there with binoculars and charts of enemy planes Isabel saw nary an enemy plane. I say that with confidence because Dick and I or I alone would accompany Isabel to the trailer each visit. Sometimes I remember other ladies of the village going with her. Sometimes they would have a car. The long walk in all kinds of weather was merely a short drive in second gear for Mom’s friends.

The closest enemy was not in a plane but in the prisoner of war camp on Lake Road on the way to Sodus Point. Realistically, we had a greater risk of them escaping than we did any plane coming in with a bomb for some factory. The Cold War began after 1945 when the USSR erected an iron curtain across Europe in the words of Winston Churchill. America feared nuclear attack over the pole, so the observation post was the destination for Isabel and her kids and friends.

At some point when radar eliminated the need for the post, my mother stopped going there and all the other volunteers did the same. However, the traffic to the post was not over completely.

For some reason attributed to either apathy or forgetfulness the observation post lingered up there in the four seasons, taking a beating from the wind and weather. The trailer stayed there for several years, a lonely sentinel and reminder of a time past. The kids of the village would go by and write their names or other names on the body of the trailer. Some hunters and/or target shooters had begun using the trailer for target shooting. How ironic it seemed then and now that the trailer stood out there on the top of the hill through the hot and cold wars and never suffered any damage until American guns tore the trailer apart.