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Halloween in Saranac Lake, 1944

October 9, 2009
By Howard Riley,

The Saranac Lake Police Department was kept busy around Halloween in October 1944, but most of the hijinks recorded in the blotter were pretty mild by today's standards.

I believe it was 1944 when a bunch of us were out on All Hallow's Eve (Oct. 30). We watched the police park their car at the top of the driveway that leads between Rice Furniture and the Town Hall. The two cops left the car running and went into the station in the basement of the Town Hall (from which the PD should never have moved).

In the most gutsy thing we had ever witnessed at our tender age, a couple of boys appeared out of nowhere, jumped in the police car and drove it down behind the Paul Smith's Electric Light and Power Company (where the village offices are located today), jumped out and took off. There was no LaPan Highway then, so we ran down in that direction to watch the action. I believe that the guy working at the water plant saw the car go by with these two kids driving it and called the cops. Anyway, when we came out of hiding (even though we were innocent bystanders, it would not have been a good time to be standing around gaping at the cops), the boys in blue were back patrolling.


Big Bang Theory solved

Halloween night at 11:40 p.m. there was an entry in the blotter that a "very (and "very" was underlined) strong explosion occurred. Could be heard all over town. Investigated, unable to find out where it happened. Seven (7) different calls in reference to above. The Military Police (stationed at the Lake Placid Club) overheard in the restaurant that some kids had been planning to set off a charge of dynamite on the school grounds. Investigated up there by Higgins and Ryan, unable to see where any charge had been set off."

The case was cracked the next day by Sgt. Ed Duprey, who recorded this in the blotter: "Henry Homburger, age 15, of 20 Park Ave., Edward Mullen, 15, of 16 Prospect Avenue and Charles Sporck, 16, of 23 Lake Flower Avenue set off the explosion. The boys were warned by Prof. Littell (the superintendent of schools) and Sgt. Duprey."

I talked to Charlie some time back about a caper involving his Model A Ford. Turns out that the driver of his Model A when it tipped over on Main Street (in Canton, I believe) was his best friend, Dave Hanning. This happened while Charlie was playing football there against the Golden Bears for the good ole' Red & White. However, I had never heard about the above; and hey, listen, firecrackers were hard to come by in those days.


Other Halloween pranks

"Call from Percy Mullen reporting that someone stole his truck, a Dodge panel truck, license 176-161 commercial, from his store. Investigated by Moody and Wallace who found truck abandoned on Woodruff Street in back of the parking lot, returned to Percy Mullen."

This case also solved the next day by this entry: "Donald Monica, 16, 6 Mills Avenue, Arthur Swain (no age), 12 Fairview Avenue, and Wallace Baldwin (no age); Pine Street, had pushed the truck away from Mullen's Store to Woodruff Street."


"Complaint from Mrs. Connor, 9 View Street, that some boys from Balsam Street or Jenkins Street had shot at her daughter and were shooting out street lights with a B.B. gun. Investigated by Wallace but could find no boys with B.B. guns."


"Call from Tony Anderson (manager of the Pontiac Theater and probably the longest serving mayor of SL) wanted an officer because the following boys had sneaked into the show through the basement window. I brought them home and talked with their parents: John Walsh, Don Waters, James Kilroy, James Courtney, Lyle Charland, Lionel Arlan (gee, Lionel, you should have checked with me; we used a side door from the fire escape when we snuck in and never got caught), Robert Perras, Conrad Baker, Frederick Morrow, James Dukette, Soloman Arlan and John Dami." (The parents who were not home when Officer Art Ryan brought the boys home were to come and see the chief the next day.)

- Officer Ryan


Officer Higgins called them as he saw them

"Complaint from Betty Jones at 4 Park Avenue about a soldier annoying her. Investigated - she identified soldier standing on the St. Regis Corner (corner of B'dale Avenue and Broadway). Soldier admitted being out with her last week. Advised him to stay away from that family as they are troublemakers and no good. Said he would."

- Officer Pete Higgins



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