A Conversation for 30 Hours in Hooverville: A Novel Experiment

7 November: 6 am-7 am (First Day)

Post 1

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

At exactly 6 am, the fire siren goes off in Hooverville and drowns out the clock.


It is a toss-up whether this is the loudest sound in Western Pennsylvania, or only the second-loudest. The siren can be heard everywhere from the Misty Mountains to Pinnacle Drive, south of the town. It can be heard particularly loudly on Main Street. There is no escaping it, but most Hoovervillians do not become unduly alarmed, as it is an almost daily occurrence.

Note for Hoovervillians: Today's sunrise will occur at 6.52 am. Also, if you are in a valley of the Misty Mountains, you may not see it for a bit, though the sky will lighten. (This reminder for writers who are used to living on plains.)

7 November: 6 am-7 am (First Day)

Post 2

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

When the siren goes off, Wlad sets down his newspaper and sighs. Since the siren's loudspeaker is actually on a pole on his street, there's no use trying to think until it shuts up, and as he knows his house is not currently on fire, there's nothing to worry about other than his eardrums. Ignatz makes a dive beneath some sofa cushions, the better to protect kitty ears.

The siren is an aptly-named ACA Screamer. Wlad suspects that the sound of it is music to the ears of Fred Ireland the Fifth, Hooverville's nutty fire chief. He has the feeling that to Fred, the siren sounds as wonderful as the organ does to him. What that tells him about Fred's musical sense is not reassuring. In Wlad's opinion, the only thing the siren is good for is to start a heavy metal song – one with a plot about some man-made apocalypse, no doubt. As Wlad isn't much of a metal fan, he can't think of any way to incorporate that siren into his own oeuvre. Come to think of it, though, wasn't there a Heavy Leslie track with a siren in? Sort of like that helicopter sound in Billy Joel's 'Goodnight Saigon'…

Wlad can't do a fire siren on his Yamaha – and if the church's pipe organ had a 'siren' stop on it, he would have been furious, but not surprised, as Ernest M Skinner was born in this very town. Skinner invented an organ stop in the 19th Century that was later acquired by the Coast Guard as a fog horn. He also had a heckelphone stop on his organs. This is a heckelphone, which is a Real Thing and not invented for the purpose of drama:


Wlad thinks Skinner is probably now in Organist Hell, where one of the punishments is to be forced to play Wagner on the calliope.

Wald's own Yamaha won't do a siren, but it will do a helicopter. At least, its 'helicopter' setting is good enough to fool his ears – but not those of Joe Scarborough, a local man and Vietnam veteran who used to fly the things. Joe said he could tell the difference because the sound didn't give him flashbacks to the Mekong Delta.

As the siren has quit now, Wlad goes online and checks. Sure enough, there's a Heavy Leslie track with a siren on it.


Paranoia strikes deep, thinks Wlad. Into your life it will creep…Nighthoover save us from always looking over our shoulders…

With this thought, he heads off to the shower, remembering to lock the bathroom door to keep Ignatz from stealing his defenceless flip-slops, which already have neat rows of perforations from cat teeth.

smiley - dragon

7 November: 6 am-7 am (First Day)

Post 3

FWR (under new management)

The young woman smiled her thanks as she left the bar. She liked this town, liked the little pub, even enjoyed the nightshifts, enjoyed the deafening wail when the siren signalled the end of her shift, (although she knew it screeched out for a totally different reason), but, as with all things in her life, it was sadly time to move on again.

Seven years in Hooverville, she'd made some good friends at the church and, obviously the Pirates were now like family, but she'd made her mind up it was time to go home.

In just twenty-six hours she'd be on a plane back to England. Time to face her past and resume her life back home. She'd been running away for too long, left England as a broken hearted girl.

Time to face up to the fact he was gone, although she knew she'd never get over that loss.

Every time she rode her bike she thought how much he'd love her ride, the runs they'd never enjoy together, the adventures they'd miss out on sharing.

Seven years. Yes, it was time.

She tucked the *sorry you're leaving* cards into the panniers of her borrowed bike.

She'd been sad to sell the candy-apple red Harley, but appreciated her friend loaning her the little Honda. She waited for a gap in the traffic and set off for her home on the lower slopes of the Misty Mountains.

7 November: 6 am-7 am (First Day)

Post 4

Caiman raptor elk - Yes, but what if the box is REALLY big?

OK, Mom and Pop take Kenny out to provide ladderage and set out a perimeter.
Paula, Ted and I will take Pete to cover the Lady in foam.

Paula? Could you inform the Mayor and the Police? In case Fred from dispatch hasn't done that already... They probably want to know what is happening and do some root cause investigation.
Ted? Can you make a start reading the manual for that foaming device on the Pete? I don't want to do that with the whole town watching.
Everybody hold on, I'm going to see what it takes to corner this beauty on two wheels... Take the lead Mom! I'll give you a head start. Pete crew, Hold your breath! Kenny has just started.

Now let's go go GO...

I could really use someone extra now. Especially since our Anna is not going to take over the business. Paula always wanted a son, even had thought up a name. Carson. We had some fights over that for sure, I mean, what is wrong with Fred? Although Carson does have a familiar taste, as a word.

We're there.

Finished reading Fred? I want to put some early Christmas on the roof first, then work our way up to the Lady.

Hmmm...That looks like phosphorous fire to me. Water is no use here. At least not to get the fire out. The Mayor will probably not like to have the town hall burnt down in a controlled manner, so we need an alternative plan. Maybe we can rinse it down to the ground and kill it there.
Tell everybody to stand back further and preferably not breathe too deeply. It's nasty stuff we're dealing with here.

Mom, can you go back to the station to get some bags of porridge Bordelaise and chalk?

7 November: 6 am-7 am (First Day)

Post 5

Caiman raptor elk - Yes, but what if the box is REALLY big?

[ should be "Finished reading Ted?" instead of Fred, don't know how Mom and Pop coped with such similar names]

7 November: 6 am-7 am (First Day)

Post 6

paulh. Antisocial distancing works a well as the Social kind

[" Ernest M Skinner was born in this very town." (Wad/Dmitri).
No, Skinner was born in Clarion, Pennsylvania. smiley - winkeye]

7 November: 6 am-7 am (First Day)

Post 7

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

[We can steal him. Nobody wants him, anyway. smiley - winkeye Anyway, he was only born in Clarion because his musician parents happened to be playing a gig here when Mrs Skinner went into labour...]

7 November: 6 am-7 am (First Day)

Post 8

Elektragheorgheni -Please read 'The Post'

And only in Hooverville bronze statues catch fire!

7 November: 6 am-7 am (First Day)

Post 9

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

[No weirder than what happened to the original A87882367 ]

7 November: 6 am-7 am (First Day)

Post 10

paulh. Antisocial distancing works a well as the Social kind

Arsenio Philpotts heard the Clarion call from the town's siren as he was finishing his perusal of the Hooverville Honker. He heard some commotion form the direction of the Town Hall, so he came of out the back room and looked through the window of the shop. There were fire engines clustered around the Town Hall, where some flames seemed to be coming out of the lady Liberty statue on the roof.

This would be a good time to get that coffee and some doughnuts! He went to the secret back entrance where deliveries used to be made when the building was a speakeasy. There was no way to lock the door, but no one knew it was there anyway.

Ten minutes later, coffee and doughnuts in hand, he returned to the shop's back room and did some computer work. To supplement his income and sell leftover items, he had accounts with bidandclick.com and
platesonline.com. (He sometimes went to estate sales, looking for sets of wedding china that had been stored in attics for decades.)

The profits from these occasional finds often helped him over the hump during months when hardly anyone wanted to buy china in his shop.

7 November: 6 am-7 am (First Day)

Post 11


Weeeeee Wooooooooooooooooo

Lola opens both eyes.
Her heart is racing.
Her eardrums are hurting.
The siren is ringing.

Where is she what's happening what's her name what year is this.

Her alarm clock says it is twenty-two past five. It is surprisingly light outside.
She won't be able to sleep with that racket, but it is far too early to get up. She's just going to read a chapter or two until get-up time.

She reaches for her book.
It's gone.
She looks around.
There it is! Somehow, it flew to the radiator during the night.


She goes to get it, it looks... not normal.
All the pages are wavy. Like the time she was camping in her parents' garden and it started to rain and she went to spend the rest of the night in her bed but she left her book in the tent and in the morning when she had gone to retrieve it, it was all wet and even after days of careful drying, it never was the same again.
The radio on her desk says it's quarter past six. Did it really take her almost an hour to get out of bed and take the book? Her bedroom isn't *that* big.

That's puzzling.

She's thirsty. There's usually a glass in the bathroom, so she goes in, and yelps.
Something jabbed her foot.
Something sharp.
She is bleeding a little.
She looks around and remembers.
Of course.
Why oh why didn't she sweep the floor right away? That was amazingly stupid of her.

She sits on top of the laundry hamper, reaches into the drawer for a washing glove and a towel, and gently removes the glass shard from her foot.
It's not too deep. Soap and a gauze swab with tape should do the trick.
And it does.

She limps back to her slippers and laboriously pushes her left foot in.
Her right foot is fine, but for some reason it is no easier to operate.
She then waddles downstairs, opens the cupboard door and waddles back up with the broom and dustpan.
She sweeps the bathroom floor, wipes the blood drops off the tiles and puts the debris into the bin.

Dong dong dong dong dong dong dong

Seven o'clock! Already?
But her alarm clock hasn't rung. Ah, it might have taken umbrage to the impromptu shower it was subjected to.
She'll have to get another one from the stock.

Now to write that on a sticky note for safety.
There's already a sticky note on her desk.
"Newspaper: angry! Unacceptable! Respect?"
What was that about?
Ah yes, the pumpkin thieves. That can wait.
It won't be published until next week anyway.

7 November: 6 am-7 am (First Day)

Post 12

SashaQ - happysad and 'slightly mad'

When the siren sounds, the part of Sheriff Rowdybush's brain that is alert to things that are out of the ordinary, even while he is sleeping, reacts instantly. Only when he has jumped out of bed and made his way almost as far as the apartment door does the other part of his brain manage to wake up. At first he is slightly confused about what he is doing there. The next wail of the siren answers his question. He then commences his planning procedure before going forth to see what the problem is.

He climbs into his wheelchair, pulls on his navy blue jacket, covers his legs with a navy blue commemorative First Church of Nighthoover towel as he hasn't got time to change out of his pyjamas, looks longingly at the box of Quisps in the kitchenette as his stomach rumbles, puts his boots on and thanks Nighthoover that Fred Ireland taught him how to do the Ian Knot so it takes him mere seconds to tie his laces, grabs his big bunch of keys and his walkie-talkie, and heads out of the door.

With a well-practised manoeuvre, he turns and picks up the rolled up Hooverville Honker, then chucks it through the doorway ready for later. Just before he closes the door, he hears the 'dRRRIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNGGGgggggg…..' of the telephone in the Police Station, nearly but not quite drowned out by the sound of the siren. As he heads round the building towards the Town Hall, Sergeant Irwin calls him on the walkie-talkie: Paula from the Fire Station is reporting a chemical incident - the Lady of Justice is on fire!

In the few moments it takes Sheriff Rowdybush to reach the main entrance of the Police Station, Sergeant Irwin is already outside, preparing cordons to keep people a safe distance away from the Town Hall and to make way for the fire engine. The Sheriff is glad it is her who is on duty this morning - she makes easy work of the cordon, as her 6ft in height and corresponding strength give her the advantage over her shorter colleagues.

The pair take direction from Fred and his crew, moving the cordon back further, until Sheriff Rowdybush finds himself outside the Waffelhaus. He looks through the window and remembers his dream of cinnamon waffles. His stomach rumbles again.

7 November: 6 am-7 am (First Day)

Post 13


Above Wynken De Woordesmyth's head, a rustle of wings sounds. A couple of orange-browed lichendoves flying off - something startled them. Oh - the town's siren. From several miles away, the wail is still unmistakable.

What is it this time?

Ah, the townspeople will sort whatever it may be. For now, orchids are still on the agenda. And there, right ahead, just about ten feet above ground level, another cluster, five together, still visibly glowing, despite the first light of the day now penetrating through the forest canopy. One of them is attended by a hawkmoth, its wings softly whirring as it hovers, its proboscis longer than the rest of its body. Wonderful. The orchids have only a few days to get pollinated. The plants then go dormant; the fruits develop rapidly directly after winter, and the millions of tiny seeds are released in late Spring.

He logs the orchids on his app, breathing a sigh of relief. More this year than last, for sure - the total comes to twenty-three for the morning and there's still quite a bit of prime territory to cover.

But he can get to that tomorrow. It's just about daybreak, time to head back to the office. The park opens at eight.

He trudges back up the valley. It's a bit of steep hike. The undergrowth is wet with dew and his boots squelch in the mud of the track. Around him, the birds have started their morning chorus. He's especially happy to hear the chirruping of a Bowtie Trogon, a bird he hasn't seen or heard in the park in four years. He will try to spot it when he returns; luckily they're territorial, so it should still be right here. He logs it on his GPS app.

At the top of the valley he exits the forest. He turns around. The sun has just risen over the horizon, still blood red; there looks to be a fine mist rising from the forest canopy. He looks to the south. From here, the town can't be seen at all. Nothing but tree-clothed mountain slopes, the more distant, the more obscured by the mist. The tree canopies look soft and fluffy in the gentle morning light. Avian virtuosi are competing for the prize. He breathes in deeply. There's nothing quite as pleasant as the scent of a dewy forest early in the morning. He can smell wet earth, musty leafmold, moist bark, and the scents of several kinds of plants, from the smoky odour of twining grenade gourds to the minty freshness of roadside spur-sage.

He could stand there, just watching, listening and smelling, for hours. But there's not much time remaining. He turns again, heads up into the gorge. Whew! His tent is still standing, and intact. With a deft hand from much practice, he quickly un-pitches it and folds it up into its bag; he adds it to his other belongings in his backpack, and stomps off to the office.

A fine day lies ahead, by the looks of it.

7 November: 6 am-7 am (First Day)

Post 14

Tavaron da Quirm - Arts Editor

Wilhelmina hears the sirens and watches the fire brigade arrive from one of the windows in her living room. Her apartment shines with blue lights. Cassy, her cat, is also still sitting at the window and watching as fire men and women come out of their vehicles and look up at the roof. They seem slightly clueless to Wilhelmina, but it's hard to say from a distance and in the dark. As her windows face south and west she does not see the shimmer of light that starts to brighten the horizon in the east.

'Well, Cassy, I can't stay here and watch. Keep me in the loop.'

She wonders if a fire next door is good or bad for business.

With these words Wilhelmina rushes off to the bathroom to wash herself and get dressed for work. She looks into the mirror at the long black curls falling down on her shoulders. She likes her hair. Then she binds them to a knot at the back of her head so they don't get in the way.

Wilhelmina returns to the kitchen. She makes herself a cup of coffee, then pours in some milk. She watches the milky clouds in her cup before she stirs in some sugar. While she sips her coffee she returns to Cassy to look out of the window and watch what is happening. Once Wilhelmina has emptied her cup she leaves her apartment and walks downstairs to the Waffelhaus. Cassy comes with her.

Meanwhile the sky outside is getting light and the shine of the blue lights of the fire truck is not as visible anymore. The last stars twinkle in the sky.

Downstairs Wilhelmina opens the door at the end of the staircase to get in the newspapers for all inhabitants inside. She keeps one and puts the others on top of the mail boxes. She unlocks the door which connects the staircase with the storeroom of the Waffelhaus. She turns on the light and enters. Here she finds everything she needs to start the day: flour, milk, sugar, baking powder...

Wilhelmina collects what she needs and enters the kitchen, where she also turns on the light, which reflects nicely on the steel surfaces of the kitchen. When she has everything she needs, Wilhelmina puts on her apron with the colorful flower design. She starts to prepare batter for waffles, coffee and everything else that will be needed for her breakfast guests. Occassionally she looks out of the window to see if there is any progress with the fire.

Cassy meanwhile squeezes below the swing door which connects the kitchen with the dining room. She emerges behind the bar and stops. Something is not right, but she can't put her paw on what it is.

Meanwhile the sun has come up and shines down Main Street as if it were part of a megalithic monument- at least in Cassy's opinion.

7 November: 6 am-7 am (First Day)

Post 15


Hermione was horrified. She had woken with a start half an hour ago and seen an orange light coming from the Town Hall. She had struggled out of bed and crossed her bedroom to the window, to see the Lady of Justice on fire. At first, she thought she was dreaming. Surely bronze doesn't burn? All the same, she couldn't ignore the flames which lit the sky more brightly than any normal dawn. She grabbed the first clothes that she could find and hurried out to find out what was happening.
It was no dream. There were flames everywhere and the Town Hall itself looked as if it might burn down. Her immediate instinct was to run into the Town Hall and rescue her computer. Where would the town be without the Mayor's records? They contained everything from the addresses and phone numbers of every useful plumber,electrician, doctor and vet in the county, to the dates of all festivals and holidays, together with details of all the proper religious and cultural observances. When she'd arrived they occupied shelves of beige files. She'd insisted they were put on a computer. It was only now she realised she should have had back ups in her own house. She couldn't afford to let the computer burn.
She hurried through a cloud of smoke into the office, to find everything still intact. Something was burning her face too. She realised too late that the smoke came from some foul chemical. She put a handkerchief over her face, grabbed her computer and struggled back outside, coughing and with her eyes running.
As she tottered down the path, she was doused with a powerful jet of water, which knocked her off her feet. She was suddenly lying on her back, with her computer on top of her, while Fred and his men gazed down on her. It didn't help that, in her hurry to dress she'd put on a pair of old gardening trousers which had big holes in the knees. She struggled to regain some shreds of dignity. "You might at least help me up," she said.

7 November: 6 am-7 am (First Day)

Post 16

Elektragheorgheni -Please read 'The Post'

Sandy jumped up at the sound of the siren and got dressed in jeans, a casual shirt and a denim jacket. He left his apartment to check on the church next door because
the sound of the fire engines seemed awfully close. He unlocked the church and breathed a sigh of relief that there was no smoke or fire in sight. He thanked Nighthoover,
locked up the church and walked down main street to where the action was at the town hall. Since there were no ambulances in sight, apparently there were nobody injured.
This was not suprising considering what time it was. He stood outside the perimeter and watched the fireman climb to dizzying heights. He hoped there was no damage to
the courthouse as it was a pretty building with neat wooden staircases and wonderful floors. Since the firemen had everything under control, he walked back down main
street to get an apple fritter and coffee at the doughnut shop.

7 November: 6 am-7 am (First Day)

Post 17

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

Caiman Raptor Elk wins today's award for Most Blatant Disregard for the Laws of Physics, while Superfrenchie receives the award for Most Valiant Save in a Space/Time Slip-Up. Honourable Mention goes to Elektra for keeping her character out of the way of the fire hoses and ladders, and for remembering that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

7 November: 6 am-7 am (First Day)

Post 18

Caiman raptor elk - Yes, but what if the box is REALLY big?


You wouldn't want this story to get boring? Do you?
Anyway. Physics will be (partially) restored in the next hour or so.

7 November: 6 am-7 am (First Day)

Post 19

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

smiley - rofl

7 November: 6 am-7 am (First Day)

Post 20

paulh. Antisocial distancing works a well as the Social kind

[Is lunch counted as an important meal? Also, is there a good lunch place in Hooverville?]

Key: Complain about this post

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more