The Night Fred Astaire Shot Up Broadway

From hellion Fred Astair’s autobiography Steps In Time, Harper & Row, New York, 1981 edition, p. 34. The year was about 1910 [emphasis mine]:

I’ll always remember Dick Moeller shooting tomcats off backyard fences that ran between Fifty-seventh and Fifty-eight streets [on Eighth Avenue]. Those cats kept the whole neighborhood awake until Dick blasted them. I think he used a .30-.30.

Another pastime of ours was to get up on the roof, four stories high, and throw handfuls of pebbles down on pedestrians. Then we filled paper bags with water, twisted the necks tight, and dropped them on the sidewalk, timed so they would explode about ten feet in front of a passerby. They made a “plop” noise and scattered water in all directions but our aim was good and we never made a direct hit.

From the roof we also shot bulbs out of electric signs with a .22. The signs were half a block away on Eight Avenue building roof.

If this happened today, the nation’s collective hand-wringing would be so grievous that there would be nobody left who could grip their chopsticks.

Meanwhile, another half-witted, frighted-of-his-own-shadow, what-about-the-children, look-how-concerned-I-am, somebody-might-get-hurt, “zero-tolerance”, synapse-deprived “educator” has suspended a special-needs kid because the kid brought a drawing of a cartoon bomb onto school grounds. “We’re talking about a drawing of a round black ball with a fuse sticking out of it…”

No wonder you don’t see that video anymore.

The kind of massive impenetrable stupidity evinced by the “educators” who suspended the young cartoonist does not happen by accident. No, sir. That level of rank moronicity (yes, moronicity) can only be the result of meticulous planning; which is to say, brought about by the arduous process of commonsense removal that takes place on college campuses in “education” departments.

“Now what is that, Mr Hillcrest?”

“It’s a stick figure holding what looks like a handgun.”

“No! It’s a weapon, Mr Hillcrest. A deadly weapon!”

“But it’s just a draw…”

“Don’t you care about the children! This is a weapon! This is used to kill, Kill, KILL!”


“Do you want blood on your hands, Mr Hillcrest? This is a vicious, vile weapon! It cannot be tolerated!”

“I guess it could be…”

“Bodies! Mr Hillcrest. Dead bodies. Created by weapons like this!”

“It’s a weapon.”

“Good boy. I see that you are principal material, Mr Hillcrest. Now take a look at this Pop-Tart.”

Remember the Pop-Tart? Some kid took a bite out of the corner of one and an “educator” reacted just the way she was trained. By flipping out, by spouting nonsense about “zero tolerance”, by flinging herself into a corner and cowering, certain sure the invasion had begun. And by having the boy escorted from the premises.

And then there’s all those boys booted for pointing their fingers…Is it any wonder homeschooling is growing more popular?


  1. DAV

    One would hope the schools would hire teachers smarter than a three year old but I guess that would be engaging in elitism combined with ageism.

  2. Jim Fedako

    My father-in-law and his brother used to shoot 22s at the water tower in their small Kentucky town. Try that today. I can’t even imagine the reprecussions.

  3. Noblesse Oblige

    Life goes on. Or does it?

  4. Scotian

    Jim, there were often reprecussions then as well, but they tended to involve a woodshed and a switch. When the government takes over discipline the middle ground is excluded.

  5. An Engineer

    Todays educators result from 20 to 30 years of lowest common denominator of intellect. They are supposed to teach children how to think, not what to think.

  6. j ferguson

    In sixth grade, we lived in a town which had what might today be called a technical dump. Kids could search around in it and take home anything they found. It was unsupervised. A friend and I found what must have been a large radio battery (this was 1956), a military clock with a bunch of terminals in the back and a very official looking box – also military.

    It looked like the ingredients for a time-bomb, so we combined them, and took the result to school for show-and-tell. It was very convincing, and I suppose we were not clear that it was a fake. The school was emptied out, the fire department called. When they got there, we were interviewed, they thought it was funny but took our project away with them.

    Our punishment was to be told not to do anything like that again. that was it.

    If the atmosphere then was at all like it appears to be today, we’d probably still be in the slammer.

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