Veteran Stories:
Marjorie Elsie Almstrom (née Carter)

  • Marjorie Almstrom in Whitehorse, Yukon, on June 25, 2010 .

    Historica Canada
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"We would look at people’s houses very closely and to see if they were properly observing the blackout instructions."

Transcript

I didn’t do anything very outstanding. But one of the regulations that went with it all was that all the oil refineries were likely to be an object of interest to the Japanese [Japan attacked the Allies on December 7, 1941, menacing an invasion of British Columbia]. And consequently, we were in a total blackout, I can remember the cars had to shield their headlights. And you never put your lights on full beam. And we had very intricate roads getting in and out of Port Moody [British Columbia]. We had to go around by Burnaby Mountain or else from New Westminster, which was also hilly. And groping our way home at night from Vancouver to Port Moody through those areas was difficult at those times. Those of us who were to be air raid wardens were marshalled down to the Royal Bank one day and the banker’s wife was the headmistress of this group, as it were. And she doled out our air raid masks, which we never used, might I say, and a lot of general instructions, what we were to do and where we were to be and so on. We would look at people’s houses very closely and to see if they were properly observing the blackout instructions. Not letting any light show from the windows of their homes. And some of the homes of course were just shacks and they were lucky to have windows at all. So they didn’t bothering covering them up too well. Probably it wasn’t easy for them. They had to be completely and utterly - the house they were living in - lightproof. People had to have special window coverings, which they made themselves by the way. And you had to make sure that no light was escaping, as they put it. And the man of the family - the guy who could use a saw and a hammer effectively - I guess was the one called in and he made a framework to fit the window, fit snugly right inside the window, on the inside I think it was. Anyway, onto that framework, he tacked on some sort of lightproof material. And I don’t remember what that was. It wasn’t cloth I don’t think. But I don’t remember what it was exactly. But we were all issued with these things, that is the raw materials and told to make window covers and don’t you dare let any light get out through that now. And my landlady was a [contract] bridge fiend and there was absolutely nothing else to do in the way of amusement. You amused yourselves.
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