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.