The siren was made in 1938 and was used in World War II. The finish is a little chipped, but a twist of the wooden handle still produces that distinctive air raid-siren sound. It sits on a sturdy wooden stand that Malfregeot's wife, Brenda, who is a graphic artist, painted blue and gold.
Malfregeot thinks the idea of sounding a siren at his tailgates might have come to him based on the war movies he watched as a young boy. "The jeeps always had hand-cranked air raid sirens on the front. When an air attack was coming, the soldiers would jump out of the jeeps and crank up the sirens as a warning," he said.
He first thought of purchasing a siren earlier this year and found an antique one on eBay. He waited until the last day of bidding in an effort to avoid upping the winning price. He didn't wait quite long enough. He and his wife were heading out for a picnic. She urged him out the door, but he stayed online and bid for an hour.
"I got into a bidding war with some other guy. I got out," he said. "My wife said he wanted it more because he probably wanted it for aesthetic reasons, and I just wanted to take it to football games."
Back online, he found another one on eBay and submitted a winning bid of $300. "My wife couldn't believe I paid $300 for it. I told her there was another one on there listed for $700."
The cost is a drop in the bucket of Mountaineer-related purchases that Malfregeot has made through his lifetime as a Mountaineer fan. He hasn't missed a home game since 1998, when he purchased the 40-yard-line seats he still uses.
Malfregeot and his siren will be in their appointed spot for the next home game Sept. 22 against the University of Maryland. Game time hasn't been announced, but Malfregeot will crank up his siren 10 minutes before the Mantrip.
"Every game, I'll be ready. They'll know what's coming," he said.
Reach Julie Robinson at jul...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.