While scrolling through the August 1975 roll of Tribune microfilm, I found the news pages dotted with references to a severe shortage that sparked hoarding and theft across the land. The crisis prompted a Guindon cartoon and, in Canada, at least one heated confrontation in the halls of government.
Can you guess which product or commodity was in short supply that summer?
b. Levi’s jeans
c. canning lids
d. toilet seats
The answer follows this completely unrelated but hilarious/disturbing Tribune story about a young skinny-dipper’s run-in with a stern judge in Hennepin County. Bonus quiz: What’s wrong with the headline?
Man who swims without suit faces one
By Linda Picone
How do you explain to a stern-faced judge just why you felt like going skinny-dipping in a city lake one night?
“Why didn’t you have a bathing suit?” asked Hennepin County Municipal Judge C. William Sykora.
“I just forgot it,” answered Frederick S. Engen, 24.
It wasn’t the right answer.
“Do you want to get yourself 30 days in the workhouse? You just got it,” said Judge Sykora. “There’s nothing I like less than a smart aleck. Now, why didn’t you wear a bathing suit?”
“I just didn’t,” said Engen.
Again the wrong answer. Judge Sykora sentenced Engen to 30 days in the workhouse and the bailiff led him out of the courtroom. Other defendants in the courthouse squirmed. If Engen got 30 days for swimming in the nude, what kind of sentences did they face for breach of the peace or simple assault?
But when court recessed shortly after Engen was led out of the room, Judge Sykora told the bailiff, “When that kid on the swimming bit gets sufficiently excited about being here, don’t take him over there (to the jail), bring him back.”
A chastened Engen came back into the room and Judge Sykora asked him what he had learned. One thing he had learned, Engen said, was that he didn’t want to go to jail. Judge Sykora asked him once again why he didn’t have a suit, and Engen tried to explain that he had never swum in the nude before and he wanted to try it but he was sure sorry he had.
“The first responsibility every young person has to learn is responsibility for taking care of himself,” said Judge Sykora. “That means not being a smartass.”
Engen still has a 30-day workhouse sentence facing him, but Judge Sykora stayed it for a year, on the condition that Engen not get picked up for anything worse than a parking ticket during that time.
Another swimmer, pleading guilty to to swimming in an unauthorized area (his second offense), came off only slightly better. When he tried to explain that he thought the law was silly and that’s why he kept on breaking it, Judge Sykora said, “Why don’t you go over to Russia? Here the theory is that the majority of the people make the law and the rest obey the law.”
The swimmer got a $10 fine and a nod from Judge Sykora. “Sorry to give you a lecture,” said the judge. “I should have charged you more just for that.”
A man with rubbish on two lots was given two weeks to clean it up or face 60 days in the workhouse. “It’s 60 days if you don’t clean them up, 30 if you clean up one and not the other and nothing if you clean them both,” said Judge Sykora. “That’s what we call extortion.”
The answer to the shortage question is (c) canning lids. I’m sure you’ve figured out the problem with the headline. Please post your answer by clicking on “add a comment.”