I think it was [purchased from] Army surplus that the school ended up with a 75mm large bore howitzer. Blanks were obtained and the cannon was fired each day at evening colors. It was loud and could be heard as far away as the Salina Country Club.
The neighbors began to complain saying the dishes rattled in the cabinets, the loud boom was cracking the foundations of their homes, and breaking windows. Many were just generally complaining about the noise. The neighbors signed a petition that we quit firing the cannon in the evening and presented it to the Salina City Commission.
Other neighbors liked the cannon because when it was fired their children knew it was time to come home! One woman presented a petition signed by 371 residents asking the Commission to restore the nightly boom. She said we did this to let Colonel Duckers know not everyone is down on him. “St. John’s has been good to us. Our children are invited to play on the school grounds. Besides, we think it is important to encourage the Cadets to display patriotism.”
The cannon obviously created two camps in the neighborhood. The battle between those for the cannon and those against the firing of the “sunset gun” was carried out via a local radio opinion show and numerous letters to the editor of the local newspaper.
Col. Duckers went to the commission meeting to tell them that until we could reduce the charge, we would not fire the canon. So, we did, and the cannon continued to be used for retreat and for ceremonial occasions. — Liz Duckers