Strange Times 79: Stop Eating Candy

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Today we have tales of justice for the young and drag in Bayonne. Slash your tresses for…

March 20, 1921

  • As smallpox spreads in New York and New Jersey, state officials implore the public to accept free vaccinations.

  • In Chicago, the world’s largest grain elevator explodes, burning 7.5 million bushels of grain, causing a $10,000,000 loss, and killing at least four.

  • In Brooklyn, an unemployed ironworker is arrested after ripping a pair of two-carat diamond earrings from a woman’s ears.

  • Caruso’s inner circle considers taking the convalescent tenor on a trip to Lakewood, New Jersey, in hopes that a change of scenery would help him continue his recovery.

  • The Weather: Cloudy and warmer today; Monday, showers; strong south winds.

This article is a throwback to one of my all-time favorites: “Strange Times 50: He Must Wear Shoes.” But never in my wildest dreams did I think we might meet a character as wonderfully named as Justice William Sinn. Justice Sinn! Even Dickens wouldn’t dare.

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., March 19.—“Don’t eat any chocolate candy for a year; go to school every day, and attend mass every Sunday with the probation officer.”

That was the sentence imposed on twelve-year-old Bernard Connolly by Justice of the Peace William Sinn today after the boy had confessed that he had stolen $13 worth of chocolate candy and cigarettes from the co-operative store of the New York Central Railroad employees at North White Plains. The boy said that he had decided to be a bandit after seeing the exploits of a “bad man” in the movies. He said he left the theatre and robbed the store.

Sergeant John Roberts of the railroad police traced the theft in an ingenious way. Thinking that the chocolate must have been stolen by a schoolboy, he went to the Superintendent of the school in North White Plains and asked to see the attendance record. Bernard was suspected because he had been “playing hooky” more than any other boy in the school. The police watched him.

Then detectives got word that cigarette stubs and chocolate wrappers had been found in profusion in an abandoned shack in the woods. At night they went to the place and through the window saw Bernard lying on an old bed, smoking a cigarette and reading.

The boy told Justice Sinn all about it. The boy’s father and an elder sister appeared in court to say that the boy had been incorrigible since the death of his mother.

“You’ve been a bad boy,” said the Justice, “but you can be good, and I’ll give you a chance. But don’t eat any chocolate.”

In the absence of their own Justice Sinn, the boys of Chicago have been forced to take matters into their own hands.

CHICAGO, March 19.—Schoolboys in the Dore School in the Nineteenth Ward, scene of frequent shootings ascribed to a political feud, have formed a court to curb truancy and lawlessness among themselves. They received their first lesson in court conduct yesterday from Municipal Judge Charles A. Williams.

Frank Laino, 12 years old, elected “judge” of the boys’ court, watched Judge Williams hold two boys charged with stealing for further examination.

“I wouldn’t let them off that easy,” said Frank.

“What punishment will you mete out?” asked Judge Williams.

“Well, first, I’ll give them a chance and appoint a lawyer to defend them,” said Frank. Prosecuting Attorney Willie Palmero, aged 14; Bailiff Joe de Marco, aged 12, and Clerk Joe Muscato are Frank’s assistants. 

“If they want a jury trial,” Frank said, “they’ll get it. But if they’re guilty they’ll have to pay back the money they took. The kids that ‘bum’ from school I’ll put on probation and see that they make up the time.”

Miss Nora Doran, Principal of the school, originated the plan for the court.

“I believe children can govern themselves better than men could,” she said. “The responsibility placed in them is the greatest assurance that the plan will succeed.”

Feels like a screenplay, doesn’t it? This is not the first time we’ve seen people arrested for cross-dressing, although Mrs. Tagliaferrei’s attempt was rather more valorous than the prep school rascals of Stamford.

Attired in men’s clothing, Mrs. Emmeline Tagliaferrei of 158 Belmont Avenue, Brooklyn, was arrested in Bayonne, N.J., yesterday. Her hair and been cut short and she carried the cut-off tresses wrapped in paper in her hand. 

She told the police that her husband had left her Friday and taken their children to Bayonne, so she decided to go and get them and thought male attire would make the journey safer for her.

And now, some ads for hats: