Farewell to an officer
Parking the car is always an adventure. Presque Isle has had its share of parking adventures over the years. In the 1970s and 1980s there were many times when there seemed to be more cars than parking spaces. Streets were full and tempers matched. Riding herd on the yahoos of the V8s was a diminutive Officer of the Peace.
In the early ’70s, the Star City was growing with people. Schools were full and there were no bypasses. Parking was where you could find it. There were even a few parking meters to help relieve visitors of useless change.
Chaos is usually followed by regulatory order so that peace is restored. Implementation of this ideal inspires many stories, some true and some stretched to fit the minds of the listeners.
Amidst this festering melange of tarmac tales, there walked Officer Theresa Cyr.
Officer Cyr of the Presque Isle PD patrolled the streets, alleys and sidewalks of downtown Presque Isle armed with a chalk stick and a ticket book. Her mission: keep parkers from hogging spaces.
All of this began as a simple complaint about rampant hooliganism on the part of drivers in school zones. Big trucks, too many of them; cars, too many of those; and hundreds of wide-eyed youngsters headed to the schools. Since a sidewalk is an invitation for an impatient driver and pedestrians are a pestilence for the driving public, there were many close calls between kids, cars, and people. Tempers frayed, much yelling was done, and the police were struggling to keep the issue at the level of a dull roar. After one too many near misses Ms. Cyr went to the police department and gave the chief of police a piece of her mind. She left the office with hat, badge, ticket book and chalk.
Soon she could be seen with her white gloves, star shield and hat, stopping the denting denizens so that kids could cross the street. When not doing this she walked the streets marking and ticketing vehicles parked.
Drivers of the time soon learned to watch for the chalk-marked tires and the smiling ticket lady who would invite one to visit the courthouse. Ms. Cyr, while small, accepted no excuses. One paid attention to the clock and other drivers. “Park, do business, git” were the imperative phrases that drivers had to learn. Argue with her, and even fiends whimpered. It was her city and she was determined to civilize it a bit. No one was immune from her chalk and ticket books.
Donning her uniform, walking down the hill to Main Street, Officer Cyr patrolled the parking spaces with a dedication that inspired. Rain, snow, bluster and cold did not stop this effort. She was Mrs. Presque Isle and she served with pride for many years, retiring in the late ’80s.
A stickler for rules, she became the official ambassador for the city. Need to know where something was? Ask Ms. Cyr. Need information on an establishment? Ask Ms. Cyr. Want directions to a place? She knew and would be happy to give directions in both French and English. All of this done with a smile and some humor. Need to cross the street? The white gloves and firm stance brought many a fearsome truck to a screeching halt. Even Judge Turner was in awe.
Officer Cyr, who passed away on May 16, 2018, was the City of Presque Isle.
Orpheus Allison is a photojournalist living in The County who graduated from UMPI and earned a master of liberal arts degree from the University of North Carolina. He began his journalism career at WAGM television later working in many different areas of the US. After 20 years of television he changed careers and taught in China and Korea.