Bangor High boys had rambunctious night in 1908
By Wayne Reilly
Monday, May 26, 2008 - Bangor Daily News
"HIGH SCHOOL BOYS HAD WILD NIGHT," declared the headline in the Bangor Daily News on the morning of May 15, 1908. "Threw Students Into Watering Troughs, Paraded Streets, Besieged Windsor Hotel ... Police Were Kept on the Jump." ...
Bangoreans were used to riots of all shapes and sizes. Usually these events involved a few drunken sailors and loggers or a crowd protesting a liquor raid. Occasionally, a small army of noisy University of Maine boys marched through town on their way to the theater.
Usually, a half-dozen big cops with nightsticks took care of things. But the ragtag mob of high school boys, reported at 200 strong, that charged about the streets of downtown Bangor for three hours one spring night a century ago was as unusual as it was humorous to everyone but its victims — and the school board.
While the newspaper reports never explained exactly what touched it off, the riotous behavior apparently had to do with hazing freshmen by members of the school’s military cadet program. The rioters were upperclassmen. A few friends must have accompanied them, because there were only 60 cadets regularly enrolled, according to Principal Henry White’s report that year. Their targets were a handful of freshmen who ran through the streets of downtown Bangor like scared rabbits chased by a pack of dogs.
Events began early in the evening after the school’s battalion of military cadets was dismissed from drill in the high school yard on Harlow Street, (where the Abbott Square parking lot is located today across from the Bangor Public Library). ... Hardly had they finished when members seized one of their number and drenched him under the pump that supplied the school’s drinking water.
A procession then formed for a march up the street to the watering trough in East Market Square (where City Hall is today). Another freshman was produced and ceremonially dunked. From there, the students swept across the Kenduskeag Bridge and on into Haymarket Square (where the KeyBank complex is today across from Pickering Square).
A third freshman was thrown into the local watering trough. "This time the victim was about half-drowned, only the tip of his nose showing above the sluggish water," wrote the Bangor Daily News reporter.
The crowd of onlookers was growing, and the police were becoming quite interested. "Patrolmen Meade and Reagan came up from the [Devil’s Half] acre and interfered," the newspaper reported.
Instead of breaking up the festivities, however, the boys retreated up the street to the Unitarian Church at Union and Main streets, where they met up with yet another snag — a popular police officer described in the Daily News as "Handsome Dan Kennedy, Beau Brummel of the police force and custodian between 6:30 and midnight of the destinies of upper Main Street."
... They headed back downtown to the Nickel movie theater on Central Street, where another freshman was hiding inside.
"They wanted to go in, but Manager Forrest had opposite views and the sight of four patrolmen and a half-dozen unsentimental ushers drawn up across the entrance to the big lobby had a quieting effect," reported the newspaper. Meanwhile, the freshman, who was apparently a bit sharper than his fellows, slipped out a side door and, eluding his pursuers, ran up the street into the nearby Windsor Hotel at the corner of Harlow and Franklin streets.
Discovering how it had been outwitted, the student mob surrounded the big hotel. A huge crowd had assembled to watch the antics. Hotel staff blocked the doors. Students ran up fire escapes expecting to find their prey in one of the rooms. "For a little while affairs assumed the proportions of almost a real riot," commented the reporter hopefully.
Half an hour later, the boys realized they had been outwitted again. With the help of hotel staff and a police officer, the intended victim had been dressed up in the head chef’s white apron and coat. With the collar pulled up high, he had walked out the door, pushed through the crowd and disappeared into the evening.
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Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Bangor's Victorian Rowdies
Bangor Daily News ran a great piece this past Monday on the wild times some local lads had back in 1908!