Police Flashlight

Ben Hudrilik

Catalog Number: 1998.004.02

This large 3-in-1 flashlight was produced mostly in the 1920s. It was advertised to police, firefighters, railroads and the Boy Scouts for signaling. Made by Yale-Brand, this flashlight is equipped with a basic searchlight, a red light and a green light, all capable of being turned on or off independently with the three switches.

The different colored lights of the flashlight could be used for different things. The red light and green lights could be used for traffic control, emergencies or railroad use in which the user would have to signal “stop” and “go.” The main light would just be used as a basic search light in the dark.

Donated by the Stahr family, this flashlight was the personal equipment of Carl Stahr, who served in the La Crosse Police Department from 1953 to 1979. Stahr was originally from Winona, but came to La Crosse and worked at the Electric Auto-Lite Company before joining the police force at the age of 30.

Stahr served on the force for more than 30 years, and had his fair share of excitement. He was involved in a high-speed chase after a car was stolen by a soldier from Fort McCoy; arrested a Chicago murderer at the bus depot; and found run-away underage go-go girls in the downtown bars.

Stahr’s most famous encounter was when he was off-duty. His neighbor had caught on fire in a garage explosion and Stahr jumped the neighbor’s fence to assist him by putting him out and helping to control and extinguish the fire in the garage. Stahr was given an Officer’s Award for attempting to save the life of his neighbor in this heroic act, but unfortunately the neighbor died of his burns later in the hospital.

Carl Stahr may have acquired this flashlight as a young boy in the late 1920s or early ’30s, when they were most popular: Perhaps he used it in the Scouts. Or, it may have been handed down to him in his in his early years on the police force, in which case he could have used it while he worked the night shift. Unfortunately, we can’t say for certain whether Stahr ever used this flashlight while working as a La Crosse police officer.

This article was originally published in the La Crosse Tribune on February 24, 2018.

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