“I’m the arsonist.”
That’s probably not the greeting one expects from an 82-year-old but former longtime Alberton resident Bud Cyr was joking and waxed nostalgia about the old hall which he was about to torch.
“My first-ever memory at the hall was a Christmas concert, I was five or six years old,” Cyr recalled. “I played Baby Bear, I was dressed up as a bear. I had one line; five words.
“Mama Bear asked, ‘Why don’t you eat your soup?’ I said, ‘I don’t have a spoon.’”
Other fond memories included Christmas dances. “We’d tie our horses up with sleighs and put blankets on them, and go in to the dance lit by kerosene lamps.
“Winters were colder back then,” he remarked.
Square dancers would rock the maple floor his grandfather helped build before he was born. “I could write a book this thick,” Cyr said, gesturing with his thumb and forefinger several inches apart.
“There sure is a lot of history there,” agreed Mel Wilson, one of a dozen onlookers who went to watch the hall burn down Saturday.
Wilson, like Cyr, remembered the school fairs at the hall. Cyr even recalled the chant from S.S. #3—“Hurrah, Hurrah, Sis Boom Bah, Crozier, Crozier, Rah, Rah, Rah!”
Not all their memories were of childhood innocence.
Cyr recalled the old page wire fence around the hall was rotting. As a joke once night during a dance, several teens (Cyr never claimed responsibility) tied it to Jack Busch’s bumper and he drove off with the fence attached.
Nobody was sure when the hall was first built, the closest estimate being 1920 or shortly before. When Cyr went down Hill Road back then, there were just two or three houses constructed.
At Stamp’s store, next to the Crozier Hall, you could get all licorice pipes for a penny apiece.
The Baptist Church was across the road. “Back then, you could put 10 cents in the collection and take five cents back,” Cyr recalled.
Saturday’s fire was slow to start and continued to blaze for almost two hours before firefighters began to tame it.
Two years ago, Alberton council debated whether or not to rescue the hall.
But not enough residents voted to rebuild it so the grant money the township received for the hall instead went towards renovations to the Alberton rink, located behind the old hall.
“I’m the arsonist.”