Fun_People Archive
12 May
Ivan! We attack at noon!

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Tue, 12 May 98 11:17:11 -0700
To: Fun_People
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Subject: Ivan!  We attack at noon!

X-Lib-of-Cong-ISSN: 1098-7649
Forwarded-by: Nev Dull <>
Forwarded-by: Kevin Dunlap <>
From: Greg Monti <>

In the May, 1998, issue of Baltimore magazine, there's a short article
entitled, "... and you should hear what happened when you rang the
doorbell".  A summary:

In mid-March a Bell Atlantic technician called a south Baltimore residence
and asked whether a civil defense siren went off each time his phone rang.
(The siren had been screaming 10 or 15 times a day and was the talk of the
neighborhhod, which was watching for incoming missiles.)  BA and the
customer did a little test:  Sure enough, the civil defense siren on the
Chesapeake Paperboard Company building a few blocks away sounded each time
the customer's phone rang.  The siren, installed in 1952, was a relic of
the cold war.

Once this was found out, the resident's friends called up to see if they
could make it wail.  They could.  For the better part of a day.  Until Bell
Atlantic uncrossed the wires.  Said a BA spokesperson, "This is the first
time this ever happened.  It was really weird."

Actually, I *do* remember this same incident happening in Bayville, Long
Island, when I was a child in the mid-1960s.  The town has no central office
so three big cables (maybe 3,000 pairs at the time) travel a few miles to
the next town's CO.  Somebody's boat storage barn, which was right under
the cables, went up in flames one night, severing all service.  When repairs
were made, the wrong number got connected to the siren.  Kept me up half
the night.  It was fixed the next day.

The siren was normally used for calling volunteer firemen to work, although
it probably had a civil defense angle as well.  Otherwise it was blasted to
exercise it at noon each day.  (As Robert Klein used to say in a Russian
accent, "Ivan!  We attack at noon!  They think it's lunch!") The fire
department uses pocket pagers now.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Would you believe that one of the three-digit
codes off of the Ohare Airport centrex used to be for activating the
terminal-wide paging system to make announcements?  What this meant was
dialing the local number into Elk Grove allowed access to UAL's network.
Against that dial tone, dialing a three-digit code connected the caller via
tie-line to the centrex at Ohare, and then off that another three-digit code
allowed someone 'anywhere in the world' <grin> ... to make an announcement
to all passengers, .etc at Ohare?   I don't think either Illinois Bell or
United Airlines was aware of that small, but significant loophole.  I am
told that after a couple bogus annoucements were made in which no local
(i.e. at the airport) culprit could be identified, it finally occured to
them to wire the centrex so that particular code could only be used by
authorized personnel.  Not being sure if the statute of limitations from
the 1970's has run out yet, I guess I better shut up, and close this issue
of the Digest!   PAT]

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