Monday, October 31, 2011

My Dad Never Knew.... least he never said anything to me about it. It was Hallowe'en, 1944. I was sixteeen - a classic teenager - andI had gotten my driver's license a  few months before. To make matters worse, I had the night off from my movie projectionist job, which in aftertought would have been better for me to have been involved with.

Hallowe'en was big time stuff in our town. Art students from high school entered a contest involving art work on store windows. A requirement was a parade. Our town loved parades and of course parades involve the high school band. After all, the little ones in their costumes needed music to prance to. And
I was in the band. A dozen or so musicians and I played the cymbols. Holmes Hutchinson played the bass drum and Corky Hover played the snare drums. I mention these participants because they went far beyond the call of duty.

One the parade was over we headed back to where the band had formed. There, nosed in to the curb, was my father's trusty 1940 Studebaker Champion four door sedan. Suddenly "we" (I'm really not sure whose idea it was) decided that we would load the car with as many as we could - with as many band members included - AND INSTRUMENTS - and drive down Main Street to provide a second parade concert. Ready to go, with people in and outside the car, we made our way back to Main Street which meanwhile had been blocked off. Nothing ventured nothing gained, I always have said and so we drove around the sawhorses that blocked the street and created the most awful sounds you ever heard as we drove down the street a little faster the normal. Once past downtown we all had a big laugh as we parked the car and went about the normal trick or treat activities with a major focuc on upending outhouses (yes, even in town there were some outhouses waiting to be tipped over - hopefully with one more more occupants in them. All told, we felt like it had been a great evening of ghosts, goblins, and devious teenagers. We all went home tired but elated at the evenings activities.

But wait just a moment - it's not over yet. At scholl the next morning the public address system sounded of asking that certain members of the band needed to check in with the principal - and the sooner bthe better. Once gathered in the office, we were told that our presence was requested at the railroad station immediately if not sooner. This was not a good sign - the mayor of the town was one of the honchos at the station. With a certsin sense of forboding, we drove cautiously, legally to the station where we were greeted by the mayor ----  and the chief of police. The lecture seemed more directly aimed at me than at the others but we all stood there shaking in our boots. It appeard we had accomlished not just one or two infractions - but a bucketful - disturbing the peace, speeding, driving through a barricade the wrong way on a one way street and a few other charges I can't remember. Or don't want to.

With his wrath winding down, and with our apprehension growing, the mayor tuned to me and said that my father was a good man. I nodded in agreement. My dad was in the army and it was wartime and the mayor finally said  he could throw the book at me. It was serious enough that I (or we) could get acquainted with a jail cell down at Tracy Hall. The chief of police nodded as though he or one of his deputies would be happy to provide us  accommodations for the rest of our lives.

But then the mayor said, "I'm not going to tell your fathers - but do something like this again and it will not go easy on you." Chastened, we went back to school thinking that every classmate knew what we faced and we did not mess around on the streets - or even in school for some thime therafter. Interestingly, thr mayor dsaid nothing about the outhouses.

Ad as I said, I don;t think my dad ver heard the story - but now, with him heaven, I suspect he is shaking his head and saying, "What else was that boy up to that I wasn't aware of?"

By the way, in later years I got to be great friends with both the chief of police and the mayor.
Until they looked at each other, grinned, and asked, "Remember that Hallowe'en night in '44?
And I would cringe..

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