Way back in 1962, Fire Prevention Week (which was this past week this year) was a lot more than just several days marked off on the October calendar, along with some cautionary advice from Smokey the Bear.

A fire truck was dispatched to each school in New Canaan and Chief Fred Pickering, all decked out in a full-dress uniform, white hat and all, showed up with his stopwatch to time evacuation of the buildings. He was invariably accompanied by firefighters Bud Hoyt and Joe Ahearn, who inspected the furnaces and checked the buildings for potential fire hazards. The fire marshal’s job was a part-time post, mostly volunteer, in those days.

At one of those drills at South School, Pickering remarked to Principal Lee Haines that he always suspected kids were eager to get out of school, but “this group broke all speed records.” Then both pronounced the drill a success.

Across the street from the firehouse, things weren’t going as well for New Canaan’s other men in blue. For the second consecutive week, the Police Department was having a problem with safe-crackers.

This time, burglars broke into the New Canaan Cleaners on Pine Street, drilled a hole in the office safe, reached in to grab a bag of money and then made off into the night. Seymour Krevlin, owner of the establishment, estimated his loss at $1,200.

In the previous week, burglars lugged a heavy safe out of a house on Country Club Road and then dumped it on the Woodway Country Club golf course in Darien after prying it open and removing more than $100,000 worth of jewelry.

The above was an excerpt from a column by former editor of the Darien Review, Ed Chrostowski, published in the Darien News in 2009.