On Saturday I went to East Lansing to visit my sister. On Sunday I drove my wife to the airport. On Monday I looked for an old column to use. This one, from 20 years ago, highlight my years as a criminal.
By David Green
What a devastating day I spent with Morenci’s ordinance book recently. I’m guilty. Call the cops. Take me away. And please look out for my family while I’m gone.
The newly revised Code of Ordinances is on display at City Hall if anyone wants to come in and figure out the changes. It’s easier to read and much better organized—and just plain frightening.
I don’t mind that they’re no longer concerned about the Airport Commission charging usage fees. And soil erosion at construction sites never was on my mind. In fact, I’m sure I have no problems with any of the changes, it’s just the old stuff I never knew existed. I’ve been a law-breaker most of my life.
Following is just a partial list of my crimes:
• July, 1954: Climbed onto a picnic table at Stephenson Park.
• August, 1956: Harassed a bird at Wakefield Park.
• June, 1958: Stood on a picnic table to climb into the old Scot pine at Wakefield Park. The big boys always did it. I was never tall enough until someone moved the table.
All of these atrocities are outlined in Title III, Chapter 21, § 3.2. That’s in the old code book; it’s probably in a new location in the 1993 edition.
• March, 1959: Discharged a BB gun within the city limits.
• May, 1960: Transported a slingshot off private property while unaccompanied by person 18 years or older.
• November, 1961: Played ball in the street. I might get off on a technicality with this one. The Bryner boys and I were playing hockey in the street. Hockey is no ball game, but neither was there any ice so we used a whiffle ball. The concrete chewed our sticks something terrible.
We’ve now entered into the heart of my transgressions: Title IX, Chapter 83, Disorderly Conduct. The crimes I’ve committed here! I’m an enemy of the people. Nothing more than societal flotsam stuck on a low discharge pipe jutting into Bean Crick.
• May 1962: Discharged into the open air the exhaust of a steam engine. I well remember the day I took my toy steam engine out onto the front porch. I stoked up the fire and really let it rip. Police chief Mickey Phelps was not patrolling Cawley Road that afternoon.
July, 1963: Sounded the horn of an automobile which wasn’t in motion, not as a danger signal. We weren’t in any danger. We were hot. Our mother parked in front of the Observer, ran in to get some cash, then talked and talked. I just tapped the horn a little, but it’s clearly in violation of Chapter 86, Noise control, §9.71 h.
Going through this book practically brings me to tears. I was a Boy Scout. I was treasurer of a church youth group and president of the National Honor Society. I went to Boys’ State. I ran a decent half mile. I’m scum. Vile scum.
I told Bob Ackland a dirty joke while walking down to Meech’s Pharmacy one day (p.32 i). I insulted and annoyed by mouth some little runt at the park (9.32 n). I prowled about an alley at night without permission (9.32 cc). I spit on the sidewalk on several occasions (9.32 dd). I sat on Jim Brink’s car hood within the business district (9.32 ff). I hooted after 11 p.m. (9.71 j). Go directly to jail, etc.
I don’t engage in many of these illegal acts anymore, yet other laws I’ve only begun to break. Take the infamous noxious weed category, for example.
Chapter 87, §9.81, says I can’t grow members of the Brassica family in excess of 16 inches. We grew some killer Brussels sprouts last year. Definite violation, and some of the broccoli might have topped 16 inches as well. City Hall will tell me to relax, §9.84 says vegetable gardens are exempt. But when the supervisor of noxious weeds comes around to inspect, he’s going to look at our weed growth and fail to even see a garden underneath.
Our compost pile is in trouble, too (putrescible wastes including vegetable offal), and we have a tree whose lowest branches might be less than eight feet off the sidewalk.
The only good news from the code revision, the change that’s going to keep the cops off my back is this: It’s no longer illegal to wander about the streets without being able to give a satisfactory account of yourself.