LIGHT ON A POWER POLE (March 10/89)

As the guest speaker at the Kentville Gyro Club, police chief Del Crowell talked about the changes that have taken place in policing since he was a rookie in Yarmouth.

When he became a policeman two decades ago, Crowell was handed a uniform and a gun and in is words, “was pointed to Main Street.” Training took place on the job. The police car in his Yarmouth days could only be driven 30 miles a week and had no radio. Contact was made by turning on a special light located on various power poles. The constable checked in when he saw the light was lit up.

In contrast, Crowell said, police forces around the province today are highly trained and many officers are graduates of recognized academies. Kentville, for example, has one of the most highly trained police forces in eastern Canada.

Communications have changed as well. The signal light on a power pole that Yarmouth used has evolved into a complicated computer system that can tap into any police information pool in North America.

Crowell touched briefly on the old days of policing in Kentville when Roop Davis patrolled the town on a bicycle. Everything has changed swiftly, he said. When Davis patrolled Kentville, World War One was still fresh in everyone’s mind. No one knew that another more devastating war was only a few decades away; a war that would give us atomic bombs and the beginning of space travel.

I often wonder what people in their 80s and 90s think about all the changes that have taken place in their lifetime. Most of today’s older generations are undoubtedly like my father. When he as a young man in the first war he fought on horseback with sabre and pistol. Air warfare was in its infancy and the first tanks rumbled harmlessly through no man’s land and were temporarily discarded. The vagaries of the weather determined the results of gas warfare.

Later, when my father served at Camp Aldershot during the second war, the tank had been perfected, the first jet plane appeared and the first atomic bomb was dropped. In my father’s sunset years the primitive V2 rockets of the Germans became sophisticated space missiles that would send men to the moon. The computer age arrived and exploration of our solar system began.

Like many men and women who grew up on farms, my father lived through wonder after wonder. Someone wrote that in the past five decades there have been more changes than in all of man’s history. While true or not, the changes that have taken place in my father’s lifetime must have been mind boggling for him and his contemporaries. Like most people of his generation he remembers when Kentville when wars were fought on horseback, when Kentville was patrolled by a policeman on a bicycle, when the atomic age arrived and when the first man was landed on the moon.

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