Mischief

Doing stupid stuff was, in retrospect, something that was all too common. For example, I recall Ken Weleski complaining at lunch about being served stewed prunes as desert. Jim Simons and I responded by offering to eat his prunes which we thought were tasty.   Eventually the entire table offered up their deserts to the two idiots who treated them as a delicacy. I can’t recall which of us won the “contest” because I can’t remember much of what happened that afternoon.

Twice during my senior year in high school I was part of some major mischief. In 1968 the risks associated with such stunts was small. Today, I would have risked suspension from school and because of that I would never have taken the opportunity to be involved in such pranks. I kept my role in such behavior a secret for half a century but I am willing to spill the beans right here and now.

Our school published weekly menus of the fare offered by our cafeteria. This allowed the discriminating diner the opportunity to pack at home or choose to go through the line and get some warm chow. Personally I would opt in for Johnnie Marzetti or Sloppy Joes and say no thanks to baked haddock or split pea soup. The menus allowed you to plan and make a happy choice.

A friend and I decided to give this neat little convention a twist. We imagined absurd menu choices such as “buttered bees knees” and “candied llama hoof” sufficient for an entire week. We then dutifully typed them using the same format as the real menus using mimeo paper we had purloined from the business department. Then, at the height of our diabolical plan, we had the unwary usual people print and distribute the canard menus so that they arrived in the classrooms just as expected. It didn’t take long for these to be discovered but the prank had been pulled with many amused knights getting a small laugh. The next day when I showed up to read the morning announcements I was told by Mr. Schieble, the Assistant Principle, that “many students were confused”.  He did not accuse me of being involved… but he gave me a “look”.

I had served on Student Council and promoted the message that students should not rig their lockers so that the combination could be bypassed. This practice facilitated break-ins and theft. After making no headway in our campaign, a group of us were going to make our point. This devious, risky, and possibly dangerous prank was conducted one Sunday evening at dusk. Our small band, consisted of a couple of seniors, a junior and even an eighth grader. Wanting to fly under the radar we arrived in a yellow Cadillac convertible. We parked behind the school. We moved to unsecured window between the junior high wing and the shop. We had unlocked it Friday afternoon and found it still unlocked.  We pushed it open and crawled through. It was a very tight fit. We then proceeded to locate lockers rigged to open without using the combination lock. We took books from the eighth grade area and carried them in intact sets to the junior and senior areas. Macbeth migrated to junior high. PA History made its way up to the seniors’ lockers. We did this over fifty times creating a jumble that would hopefully communicate the importance of our campaign to “lock up”. And it was a hoot.

The next day our forecast of the damage was way off. The administration’s solution was simple. If you found books that were not yours you simply took them to a table near the office and swapped them for something more familiar. I have no idea if the incidence of jimmying the lockers was reduced. I also never learned whether any personal property was lost as a result – that was something we simply had not calculated.

I never got any short term feedback about this event but something curious did occur. At our class reunion forty years later classmates were asked to recall something funny that happened during their time at school. These memories were published in the booklet provided at the event. Classmates who had nothing to do with either the menu swap or the book swap remembered these as landmark events! This made my day. It soooo made my day.