© Jerry F. Couch
THE NEXT TIME you hear the older generation bemoaning the bad behavior, attitude, manners, etc. of “kids today,” ask them about their role in the Halloween antics of the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s..
In those days, kids would pour into St. Paul from the surrounding communities, much like the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes invading Britian. After making their rounds of the town’s residential areas and exhausting the candy supply, some (not all, mind you) would then migrate to the business area. Once there, they’d soap store windows as high as they could reach; roll trash cans and their untidy contents into the streets; throw eggs onto the stairways of the St. Paul Apartments. Overnight, these eggs would dry hard as varnish, creating a cleaning nightmare for the lady who maintained the common areas of the building.
At 9:00 p.m. the fire siren would sound, signaling the end of the Halloween siege. Town policemen Arlen Ruff and Cotton Austin would then patrol the streets, warning stragglers to “Get your butts home, NOW!” Those caught in acts of vandalism would be rounded up at the town’s jail to await the arrival of their highly displeased parents. An ass-chewing on premises was the usual result, followed by an ass-whooping after everyone returned home.
In the South St. Paul community, the older boys would sometimes chop down trees to block the River Road. The theory behind this was that we could skip school because the bus wouldn’t be able to reach us. This theory contained inherent flaws. First, those who had to go to work the following morning usually dragged the trees out of the way. Second, if the road remained blocked, the school bus would simply detour to Riverside Drive and we’d walk across the CC&O bridge to board it.
Yes, the conduct of some kids today sure is disgraceful. Perhaps they come by it honestly