Beep, Beep, Beep Mystery

Night before last I was working in the basement and thought I heard a beeping sound like my car’s panic alarm was honking the horn. Every once in awhile, if I bend over just right, other keys in my pocket will hit the key fob button to set it off. I walked upstairs to give a listen. Nope. Nothing in the immediate area, but I COULD hear a faint beeping. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

I categorize threats into two categories:

  • Concerns Me
  • Doesn’t Concern Me

This fit into the second category and it wasn’t loud enough to keep me awake, so I ignored it.

Do you hear that beeping?

Brother Mark showed up at the house on mid-morning to celebrate Thanksgiving and asked, “Do you hear that beeping?”

I have to confess that I’m missing chunks of frequencies – mostly those that Wife Lila uses to ask me to do things – but I told him that I could hear it faintly. He went out to blow leaves. When he came back, he said he had tried to track down the sound and it appeared to be bouncing off Randy’s house, but not coming FROM the house.

1600 block of Kingsway

I need to explain how the 1600 block of Kingsway works. We were about the fifth house on the street, and one of the first built in the 1950s. The other homes were decades older.

If you look at the three ranch-style houses on the north side of Kingsway, we’re the one on the right. The Ailors moved into the one next to us, and the Garners were in the third house down the hill The little house below them was owned by an elderly couple, the McCunes. At the bottom left was the Hale farm; they owned the pasture behind our house.

Directly across from us lived the Tinkers. Down the hill from them was a two-story house owned by John and Mary Gray. For some reason, they fixed up a chicken house behind the big house and moved into there, leaving the big house as rental property occupied by folks we never bothered to learn names for. Eventually, the house was bought by Randy, a Cape firefighter. He was there long enough for it to be dubbed “Randy’s house.” He sold it and now it’s destined for demolition.

It’s always going to be Tinkers’

So, even though the Tinkers have been dead for years and Bill and Rhonda Boltens (great neighbors, by the way) have been living there for longer than I can remember, it’s probably always going to be “over at Tinkers” to us.

Anyway, now that you have the layout in your mind -or, are totally confused – let’s get back to the beeping story.

Doesn’t seem to be inside

The noise got louder the closer we got to Randy’s house, but it didn’t appear to be coming FROM the house. You couldn’t hear it from behind the house. It felt like it was bouncing OFF the house.

Let’s check the Garner house

I walked across the street to the old Garner house. I could see a dog inside, so I knocked on the door. A coworker in Florida posted an account last week about how she never opens the door for a stranger. Others chimed in with stories about how they always keep a gun at the door. They obviously spend all their time listening to The All Fear All the Time Network. With that in mind, I wondered if I’d get an answer.

After a couple of raps, and much dog barking, a young woman came to the door. I identified myself and said I was staying with Mother up the street. “I read your column,” she volunteered. That always feels good to hear.

I told her Mark and I were tracking down a mystery. “You mean the beeping? It’s not coming from here. I noticed it when I got home around lunchtime yesterday.” We told her we’d let her know what we found.

Past the old McCune place

We walked down the hill from what had been the McCune property and noticed that a lot of the homeowners in what used to be a pasture I roamed and camped in when I was 10 or 12 had done a lot of nice landscaping. Fortunately, the area behind our house and the next door neighbor has been left to go wild, proving habitat for all kinds of creatures, plus preserving the rural feel we’ve had since before we were in the city limits.

The sound didn’t get stronger, and it still seemed to be directional. If we moved off to the left or right, it got fainter. I thought at one time that the sound was stronger coming from the direction away from the house, but Mark convinced me that I was hearing things.

I felt like I was back taking my draft physical. They put a bunch of guys wearing only our underwear in a small, dark room, put headphones on our heads and handed us a box with a button on it. “When you hear a tone, press the button,” we were ordered by someone who looked at us like we were a lower form of life. I had my finger on the button waiting to hear something. Nothing. We all started looking at each other and shrugging our shoulders. Then, we all started pushing the button at random. Interestingly enough, we all passed.

Is it the fuzzy-tailed rat?

When we got back up the hill, Mark noticed that a tree in front of the house had a squirrel’s nest in it. “Maybe the fuzzy-tailed rat (Mark doesn’t like squirrels ever since they got in his attic) carried something up into his nest.” We wandered around the tree and ruled the fuzzy-tailed rat blameless. Well, at least I did. Mark still thinks one was the second shooter on the Grassy Knoll.

By this time, it was Hungry O’Clock and we had to chow down on some great slow-cooked roast beef and all the fixin’s. We had more desserts than any three people can eat in two weeks (but we’re gonna try). Then, my schedule showed it was time for a 37-minute nap (I had missed my 22-minute 11 o’clock nap, so I was due for an extension).

Smoke alarm theory

Shortly before dark, we piled in the car and cruised up all the streets in a one-mile radius trying to find some house that was in line-of-sight with Randy’s that was making a noise that could be hitting his old house and reflecting off it. Zip. Zero. Nada.

One last theory: Mark did a Google search on beeps and found a reference that “This alarm incorporates the internationally recognized horn signal for evacuation. During alarm mode, the horn produces three short beeps, followed by a two-second pause and then repeats. This pattern is somewhat different than the previous alarm sound, which continually beeped.”

We didn’t think it was a smoke alarm because it sounded like it was a lower frequency than most smoke alarms and it wasn’t sounding “beep pause beep pause beep” in a continuous series . We know power has been off in the house for quite awhile, so it’s possible that an alarm has drained its battery, particularly with temperatures dropping to freezing. If the new standard is for alarms to broadcast three beeps now, maybe that’s it.

If it’s still going off tomorrow, we’ll see if we can get into the house or listen at a window to see if it’s coming from the inside. Otherwise, I’m going to invoke Category Two and ignore it.

Kingsway Dr. – Kurre Lane Neighborhood

Most photographers I’ve known will always try to sneak in a couple frames of their homes when they’re up shooting aerials, and I’m no exception. Here are some shots of the 1600 block of Kingsway Dr., Kingshighway and Kurre Lane neighborhood from about 1966.

They were taken late in the afternoon when the leaves were off the trees. The sidelighting gave excellent modeling to the terrain.

Cape LaCroix Creek

In the photo above, you can see Cape LaCroix Creek – better known to us kids as 3-Mile Creek – meandering through its flood plain. What we used to call Old Jackson Rd. curves in to connect with Kingshighway  at a 90-degree angle. This was shortly after the intersection had been changed to conform with modern standards. Up until then, it connected with the highway at an angle, which is still visible.

The trailhead for the Cape LaCroix Recreational Trail is located there now.

Outside the city limits

When the Steinhoff family moved to 1618 Kingsway Dr. in 1954, we were one of the first three “modern” houses in the block. We were the house closest to Kurre Lane of the three homes in the center of the frame. Today, the neighborhood is not only inside the city limits, but population and boundary shifts have put it in the center of Cape.

There was a heavily wooded area between our house and the corner that belonged to Dennis Scivally, Cape Special Road District Engineer, for whom Dennis Scivally Park was named. Dad started trimming out the small trees and brush on the lot and eventually bought it.

It had a big old walnut tree that was perfect for building a tree house. Why my buddies and I didn’t get killed building it is a wonder to me today. On windy days, I’d climb as high as I could in the tall, spindly trees, jam myself in a fork and sway three or four feet for hours at a time.

At some point, Dad and Mother sold a piece of the property to the McElreath family, which owns it today. They built a home on the corner, which took out my tree house.

Try this persimmon, you’ll like it

There was also a big persimmon tree that would drop tons of the sweet fruit in the fall. It was always good for a laugh when you could persuade some unsuspecting kid to bite into a green persimmon. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m sure I can find some in time for the reunion.

Cows in our back yard

There were two working farms with big barns on our street – the Hales and the Heislers. We had cows in the field behind our house.

The Tinkers lived directly across the street from us. After they moved out, Bill and Rhonda Bolton bought the house. They’ve made a bunch of improvements to the house and they’ve been great neighbors who keep a close eye on my mother.

John and Mary Gray lived in a house that he had converted from an old chicken coop. They had a big garden between them and the Tinkers. The Rose family lived in a two-story house in front of them. Two house down from us lived the Garners. The house between us and the Garners has had a variety of owners over the years. The Ailor family lived there when this photo was taken.

Kurre Lane dead-ended at Kingway in 1966. There was no fire station, Girl Scout office, or funeral home in those days. Traffic was light enough that my brothers and I could pile into our little red wagon and coast all  the way down to the bottom of the hill without fear of getting run over.

Here’s what it looks like today

You can zoom and pan in Google Earth to get your bearings.


View 1600 Block of Kingsway Drive in a larger map