This Day in Norwood History- September 10, 1902-Boys Pranks Land Them in Court


Eight Norwood Young Men Indicted by Norfolk Grand Jury.
Mischief Said to Have Caused Serious Accident

Wed, Sep 10, 1902 – 2 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts)

NORWOOD. Sept 10-Acting Chief of Police M. D. Creed will today place under arrest several boys who have been indicted by the grand jury of Norfolk county for greasing the car tracks on the Old Colony street railway on the evening of July 3 last.

The action of the boys which seems to have been intended as a mere piece of fun suited to the night before the Fourth, caused an accident which almost resulted in the loss of human life.

The arrests now being made are the result of clever and peculiar detective work on the part of Mr Creed and a railroad Inspector of the Old Colony road.

It will relieve many anxious fathers of boys not implicated to read the names of the indicted boys now published for the first time In any paper. They are as follows: William Fulton, Washington st; Daniel Brennan. Pleasant st; Paul Stuntoxner, Cedar st; Albert Meyers, Chapel st: Richard Leary. Pleasant st; Fred Buttrick, Dean st: Charles M. McDonald, Dean st; John McDonald. Dean st.

These eight boys and young men of good Norwood families and it Is only justice to the unfortunate young men to say that, according to the author there is no reason to suppose that there was any actual malice on the part of the boys. It is believed that they had no idea whatever of the serious accident which was to follow their mischievous pranks.

The true story of the affair, according to the authorities, as developed against the accused boys, is as follows:

The night before July 4 eight boys in a spirit of mischief daubed with soap the tracks of the Old Colony street railway in Norwood, on a small hut steep hill, which leads from a siding of the railway in front of the Norwood Press down through the so-called “subway.” where the street cars pass under the New York, New Haven & Hartford steam railroad bridge. The plan of the boys was to have the sport of watching the car from East Walpole try to climb the soaped track. But the soap did not work, as the next car passed up the hill safely and without difficulty.

The boys then obtained some car grease from freight cars on the New Haven tracks and proceeded to grease the rails of the street car line. This accomplished the purpose. The next car was unable to climb the hill. A request for assistance was sent ahead to the car from Forest Hills, which was waiting on the siding at the top of the hill, in front of the Norwood Press. The motorman started his car down the hill slowly. It gained momentum so fast that the motorman realized that something was wrong. He made desperate but vain efforts to stop his car bravely sticking to his post in the face of an inevitable collision.

The car shot rapidly down the steep hill, and the crash came. The moving car dashed Into the car at the foot of the hill. Motorman Flanigan and a passenger Patrick J. Burke of East Walpole, were very seriously injured. Several passengers were badly though less seriously hurt. Brave motorman Flanigan, it is reported, still feels to some extent the effects of the accident.

An investigation made by the street railway company and its employees showed that the track on the hill had been heavily greased, so that the car coming down could not by any known laws of gravity be controlled.

That night and the following morning of the Fourth intense excitement prevailed in Norwood. There is an element of old timers In the town who have hitherto held that almost any kind of devilment was permissible on the night before the Fourth. On one previous ante-Fourth celebration an old lady, who was more than 100 years of age, had been practically frightened to death. This year the people who wanted everything condoned and the boys freely forgiven ran against an aroused public opinion and a set of street railway men who were thoroughly and righteously mad. They also ran against a vigilant police, stirred up to extra activity by the local press. Intense indignation prevailed in Norwood and surrounding towns, coupled with an increasing, continuous demand that the affair should be investigated and the guilty parties brought to justice.

The police have been hard at work on the case ever since the Incident happened. and the result of their efforts is the arrest this week of the parties accused.

The solving of the mystery is a great relief to the people of Norwood In more ways than one. A certain stigma attaching to the town from a belief that juvenile rascality is never punished here is removed. Some Norwood parents who have not felt sure that their own children were not implicated will now feel more at peace.

The arrest of the boys also disposes of a persistent rumor heard ever since the Fourth that there were girls engaged in the affair. This rumor has been proven groundless.

Above all whatever the courts may mete out to the boys, it is a relief to know that there is no malicious motive shown in the affair, and that in spite of its sad results it was in intent a mere piece of boyish mischief.

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