I was a Teenage Jailbird!
by POPSIE 1956
I haven’t thought about this in quite awhile, I was reminded of it as I was posting the latest in my series of “Throwback Thursday” pictures on Facebook;
At the bottom is me at 18 in 1974. To my left you see a few record albums (to the youngsters, record albums were compact discs on steroids) in my (still growing) collection. Among them; Arlo Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, and Little Richard.
I actually started collecting records when I was around 11 or 12. My older sister Judy gave me some of her old 45’s that she wasn’t really listening to. That goldmine was a great start, containing the VERY FIRST Elvis album (and in pretty good shape too) and the ONLY album of Ritchie Valens!
I was hooked on music, and that addiction eventually led me to a career in radio as (mostly) a hot rockin’ flame throwin’ deejay.
It was around 1970 or 1971 that I started to hang out with a guy from school named Dave (under the circumstances, no last names).
Dave and I became the very best of friends. Dave accepted me as who I was, warts and all.
Dave was also a lover of music. Many a day Dave would invite girls over, he would play the guitar, while I did the bongo thing and sang whatever we could think of. It was a way to score.
Well, Dave scored, I had to be content beating my bongo.
Dave was also a rebel, he believed in peace, love, and understanding well before Elvis Costello did, and always wanted to “stick it to the man.”
Another school friend in our group, John (again, no last names) enjoyed our love of music, but was a bit more conservative than Dave or me.
One day, and I really don’t remember who thought it up, we decided it wasn’t right for “The Man” to make money on selling music for “the people.”
So we came up with a plan to get some free music.
Right down the road from Dave’s house was a Department Store called Weston’s, no longer around.
It was now 1972, and our “life of crime” was about to begin.
As you walked into Weston’s, immediately to the left was the Record Department, easy pickings we thought.
In looking back at how we came up with this, you would have thought we were high, in reality, we were just three really stupid high school kids.
We all walked in and started looking around the Record Department. We would each casually pick up an album we wanted to steal, bring it to the “cut out” bin (where the REALLY cheap records were) and switch out the one we wanted with a cut out, putting the cut out back where we got the record we wanted to steal.
Future MENSA students, right?
We got a stack of 20-25 albums. John would take a cut out, then buy that one, which the cashier put into a MONSTER sized paper bag.
John started walking out and handed the BIG bag to Dave. While John and I stood watch, Dave grabbed the BIG stack of albums we wanted, covered them with the BIG bag, popped them under his arm, and walked out.
And we GOT AWAY with it too!
It was a fantastic haul, and we split the profits.
Looking back over 40 years, I know now it was very wrong to do, but back then, I just didn’t care.
I had NEVER done ANYTHING like that before, I was considered a “good boy,” but my teenage rebellious nature was in full gear.
If we just did it ONE time, you would think we would be satisfied.
And you would be wrong.
Cut to the chase, we actually pulled this off 4-5 times after the initial heist, same store, same methods, same results.
We were, quite frankly, getting too greedy.
That brings us to the title of this posting.
One night, we try this little trick again, and our haul was SO big, I had to help Dave take the stash out of the store.
As soon as we hit the outside of the store, security was waiting for us.
They got me and Dave, John vanished in the crowd.
Today I understand why, back then I thought he was a traitor.
Dave and I get the cuffs slapped on and are taken in the Paddy Wagon to the Colonie Police Department, a call is made to our parents.
Never thought about that.
The picture of seeing my mom looking at her baby boy behind bars is one I will NEVER forget..
or NEVER forgive myself for letting her see that.
She pays my bail, Dave’s parents do the same, and a court date is set.
Next thing, get a lawyer.
Who to get?
Again, it’s 1972, the most popular show on TV is “All In The Family.”
Truth be told, since my mom was such a fan, she gets a lawyer for me that Archie Bunker would want to represent him.
Think about that one, then read on.
I’m represented by one Bernard Cohen, a wise older man with years of legal experience.
Mr. Cohen did anything and everything to help me.
He ACTUALLY said to the judge during one of the many hearings…”Your honor, my client is a GOOD boy, in fact he has plans to go to college, and he’s seriously considering studying the law.”
I am not making that up!
The judge, in legal jargon, told Mr. Cohen to go f**k himself.
Long story short, the judge decided it was all Dave’s fault, and I was a victim of circumstances; he made my record go away, BUT he scared the crap out me, telling me if I ever got arrested for littering I was going to the STATE PEN, sharing a cell with Big Mother Mabel!
Worked for me!
He also told me I could have NO contact with Dave.
While I wasn’t wild about that, my attorney and my mother convinced me otherwise.
That didn’t set well with Dave, who called me a coward who gave into “the man”.
Again, that was 1972, and I never heard from Dave again, He dropped out of school, had his own business in downtown Albany repairing small engines, and I lost track of him.
Sometime over the last five years, I see Dave is on Classmates, I reach out to him.
Time changes everything, we renew our long long long lost friendship, each knowing that was a time in our past we both regretted.
One day Dave asks me for my address, he wants to send me something.
A week or two later, I get a check from Dave for 500 dollars.
I ask him why, and he says he needs to make amends for f**king up my life back then, and tells me to spend that money on my grandkids for Christmas.
THAT is the man who was my friend back then.
Haven’t chatted with Dave in quite a bit, but I know he’s only an e-mail away.
Oh, and John? Completely lost track of him after high school graduation.
Rumor has it he’s a prison guard.