‘You kids, stay out of trouble!’

I remember being told that one of the hoodlums at Brookville High had cut his ankle on his “push button knife.”

Even kids in Fairfield knew better than that. None of us carried knives.

Or forks.

Getting into trouble in Fairfield wasn’t an especially difficult challenge. You just stayed out past 10 o’clock and became known as a juvenile delinquent. It was that simple. If you made noise,


We did have our moments. Not unlike most of rural America, the outhouse was the bathroom du joir across the town. Tipping them over on Halloween was a rite, a ritual and a given. My step-dad bolted ours to the foundation somehow and it was therefore almost immune. I never took part in the game myself, owing to my parents’ belief that the kids who did it were,


We soaped windows.

Once, Junior Baker and I decided to test our mettle and bought a couple of bottles of beer from Boob Thackrey, who was selling it out of a pop machine at his gas station.

Bake’s mom saw us and called my mom, who met Mrs. Baker at the schoolyard and confronted us. The sheriff came, gave Boob an arrest paper, locked us up for … well, now the story is getting too juicy … anyway, Bake and I had to testify in court against Boob, who got a fine.

It was big news in Fairfield.


Newspaper accounts vary, I think.

After that, I had to spend a lot of time with Grandpa, learning how to become an upright citizen.

Some of the other kids in town leveled off into wearing DA hairstyles, turned-up collars and tight jeans. Think Fonzie.

For the most part, Fairfield was benign. The occasional slipping in and out of back doors, a mysterious flat tire on your car … not many people were hurt.

The town had no bar and Boob’s was the only place to get a beer. He didn’t hang out a sign. The truly bad kids were smokers and almost none of them could put up a real fight if the situation called for it. They bragged a lot.

The worst that could happen did. Marshall Webb caught the Schwegmann boys and me fooling around with his daughter one night and he didn’t like it. Marshall chased us through the country with his shotgun. I don’t think what we had done was a killing offense, but Marshall was a tad irate with us. Somewhere around Quakertown, we gave him the slip.

The issue was forgotten.

Another time, my mother got upset and called the sheriff when Melvin Bowers drove too fast down our alley and killed our cat, Gus Elvis. Why anyone has a cat named Gus Elvis escapes me.

Most of the excitement happened at the basketball court. Cigarettes were smoked, cursing occurred and Carol Sue came out to flirt. And we turned the car radio up and listened to the Drifters.

Once, the Batesville varsity team came to Fairfield, drinkin’ and whoopin’ it up. Kids from Fairfield challenged them to a game and won.

After that, we couldn’t get anybody decent to play us.

If you really wanted to get into a heap of trouble, just cut through Bob Preston’s front yard. Lessons in etiquette were well taught.

Once, Herlon Browning buried himself under a pile of leaves and the mailman ran over him. Herlon survived.

Fairfield was too small to get away with much. Even little Bimbo Browning (different Browning) got caught pilfering the candy from Albert Gant’s front step. Albert had to be out of town on Halloween and left the candy there with a note. “Take one.”

Bimbo took it all. We caught up with him and made him put it back.