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Monday, July 14, 2014

An ancient pumpkin caper

Last fall we followed along the story of the back fill bin pumpkin purloined from Boston road department’s yard. Recently I was reminded of another pumpkin story in Boston, this one as old as the bouncing ball when we sang along to the organ in movie theaters, between the double feature.

The boxes of records were piled literally to the ceiling when I became township clerk. I shifted them for a couple of years, then bit the bullet, learned the law, organized township records properly and began disposing of obsolete records. One trustee helped me, and for more than a year most Saturday mornings we spent with boxes on the table and blue recycle cans at the ready.

Several ledgers from one box turned out to be carbon copies of sheriff’s incident reports from the forties, fifties and sixties. Of course I thumbed through them. Life in the township was pretty bland back then, too. Some accidents, some excessive drinking, some domestic disputes, not much more.

One little story was interesting for what it did not include. The sheriff knocked on Mr. Jones door, and asked Mr. Jones to produce young Johnny, who was called to the living room. The sheriff told Mr. Jones that Mrs. Smith’s pumpkin patch had been raided earlier that evening, and Mrs. Smith named young Johnny as a culprit. Johnny was called to the living room, confessed, retrieved the pumpkin from under his bed. I imagine it went like this:

Mr. Jones to Johnny: “Did you take a pumpkin from Mrs. Smith’s garden?”

Johnny: “Yu, yu, yes sir.”

Mr. Jones: “Where is it?”

Johnny: “U, u, under my bed.”

The sheriff took Johnny to Mrs. Smith’s to return the pumpkin.

End of report.

In my mind I can hear dad’s voice; Johnny’s blubbering “Yu, yu, yes, sir.”

Mr. Jones did not dispute the sheriff’s visit, nor did Johnny deny his theft. I wonder how much more Johnny got when he returned home.

They were not township ledgers; they were the county sheriffs’ records. The sheriff patrolled our township in the old days, and even had a branch office in our town hall, the easier to contact them. I called and a sheriff came around to pick up the ledgers.

September, 2013


  1. And that theft was part of his Permanent Record!

    Those were the good old some ways.

  2. Back then people respected authority. I'm afraid the story would be quite different. today

  3. I dread to think what Johnny's report would look like today!
    Jane x

  4. I'm thinking Johnny might have learned his lesson not to steal any further after this episode. How fun though to go through old records like that; I would have enjoyed reading them.


  5. Yeah, those good old days eh? When there was corporal punishment in schools, when kids were taught at home by spanking, and child abuse, other than murder, was not apparent. Maybe it was there, but we didn't read about it.
    I wonder if Johnny was blubbering at home, while whatever was happening to him.

  6. I don't know much law and certainly the various states differ but do you think that record is public information? Interesting story. A few years ago I got some good laughs from the Sheriff report from Ozark County MO. It was in the local paper.

  7. Well let's hope that little encounter was enough to steer Johnny back on the right path.

  8. There are some aspects of llfe then that I miss. Badly. And respect for authority - which deserved that respect - is one of them.

  9. If I was Mrs Smith, I'd get Johnny to help with some gardening , then give him a pumpkin for his work.

  10. Life seemed so much more innocent in those days - don't suppose it was, but it is nice to think so.,

  11. Perhaps Johnny just wanted his mum to make him a Mrs. Smith's pumpkin pie?

    I should apologise for that pun.....

  12. I agree with Pat - things were definitely simpler. We've just passed something that says prisoners who have NO chance of parole or ever leaving prison, can now spend months going through the court of appeal what end? Who knows. They'd have had to have stolen more than a pumpkin though I guess!

  13. Ah, the good old days when police had the time to investigate a stolen pumpkin.

  14. I wonder what he was going to do with the pumpkin. I call for further investigation, assuming the culprit is still alive.


  15. Always tell the truth even if it hurts pity it doesn't happen more often.

  16. what a great pumpkin caper, strange he wanted the pumpkin and imagine it was heavy to carry home too. ha

  17. Ah, the good old days. When a word from the sheriff or the local policeman was enough to have young would-be criminals turning onto the straight and narrow path.
    Not like these days when there are no coppers "walking the beat", knowing the neighbourhoods and the people well enough to know when something isn't right.