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Getting into mischief

David LeVine of Fargo

You did it, I did it, didn’t we all? Those childish pranks while growing up. Some of it was peer pressure, but for most it was our first true thrills, doing something mischievous. 

The group I belonged to, never thought of ourselves as naughty. That was a word rarely uttered. Maybe “trouble” is more descriptive.

I wasn’t involved in what follows, but this was a prank worthy of telling...

The city of Willmar, Minn. is where I spent my teen years. It was a city of 10,000. The town had, I believe, one cop and maybe a couple deputies. Willmar was as clean and crime free as fabled Mayberry, and the law always went easy on most truants.

One day my pals thought they’d have fun with the city’s lead cop, Nick Curtis. It was a day after a snowstorm and plowed snow piles were high throughout. Two of my pals, climbed one of the piles to the roof of the Ford dealership. From there they tossed snowballs on cars below waiting for the stoplight. Frustrated drivers swiveled their heads looking for the throwers, never thinking of looking-up. Then, along came Nick Curtis in his squad car. Even Nick wasn’t spared a couple snowballs. He jumped out of his car, looked everywhere. 

Unbeknownst to the snow ballers, Nick drove around the block, this time, coming down Litchfield Avenue. Nick saw the snowball kids on the roof. He reached down, turned on the siren and went in pursuit on foot. Our guys jumped down onto a snow pile and ran a couple blocks to Benson Avenue and escaped into Art Dalien’s pool room. They had pulled a neat get-away. Nothing ever happened. No accusations ever resulted. But word did spread of our snowball victory.

Another hee-haw was a “look-see” at one of our becoming female teachers. The word was that she lived on the second floor of a grand old home near downtown.

After what we called a conference, Ralphie was picked to climb a backyard tree and take a look-see. So, we sneaked our way through the dark fall evening. We gave Ralphie a boost to the first branch and he went higher from there. We waited, and finally heard him say, in a low whisper, “She just took off her...” Then in record time Ralphie rushed down the tree and whispered that we had to “get outta here, I think she saw me.” We took off running a few blocks to Rice Park where we gathered around a picnic table out of breath. The more we leaned on Ralphie, the more we knew that he hadn’t seen a thing. He was not popular for a while.

In high school, perhaps just one or two of our class of 160 had cars. Our world hadn’t yet arrived at almost everyone having one. It was always amusing when those guys would cruise downtown with an elbow draped on the outside. The shirt was rolled-up and housed a pack of smokes. How cool.

Willmar had an advertising sheet called the Daily Reminder. It contained coupons and ads for stores with items on sale. A guy, maybe 20, would prepare a mimeograph master and run-off 500 sheets. He’d hand half to a pal of mine and the rest to me. We were instructed to place the sheets in residential doorways. My friend took the east side and I got the west side. He was back in record time and paid. I showed up maybe an hour later. Turns out that my chum had dumped his sheets into an incinerator. That bum.

The Kandiyohi County Courthouse used to sit alone in the middle of the block surrounded by manicured grass, trees and bushes. It was classic vintage, and never should have been torn down. Inside you walked on creaky floors. On the third floor, inside the lower part of a steeple, was a dumpy staircase to the attic. Leave it to a buddy and me, we climbed the rickety steps. What we didn’t know was that the attic was a nesting place for pigeons. We spooked them and, on their flight out, dropped some poops on our shirts and caps. Outside, we looked up and saw the triumphant pigeons cooing their victory song. At home washing for supper, I saw a blotch of excrete in my hair. That would have been an iffy explanation.

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