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31 "The Saints and the Roughnecks WILLIAM J, CHAMBLISS Atmos every student can identify the “Saints” ant Rowghecks” nthe highschool, tua ie requires am ats observe ike Wiliam Charis o shaw us the hdenimplt- cations ofthis dichotomy in a clas-sructured society. Social las matters just as ‘igh school scat herarelies matter, because people are erated eceardin to their sion, nd not neces in terms of who they aro what they actualy do. Eig mise souna mentite of od a wie pee clase families, ative in school affairs, good pre-collee students—were some of the mst delinquent boys at Handbal High School. While community residents knew that these hoys occasionally sowed a few will oats, they were foally unaware that sowing wild oats completely occupied the daily routine ofthese yng men. The Santa Wore constantly oceupied with trasney, drink- ing, wild driving petty thet nd vandalizm. Yot no one was officially arrested for any misdeod during tho to yours I observed the "Phis record was particulary surprising in light of my observations during tho same two years of another gang of Hanibal High School students six lower-class white hays known 3s the Roughnecks. The Roughnecks were con stanly in trouble with poli andl eommunity even though thee rate of dlin~ {qvency ws ahont equal with that ofthe Saints. What was the eauze ofthis Aisparity? the reslf? The following consideration ofthe activtios, social cass, snd community perceptions ofboth gangs mey provide some answers. THE SAINTS FROM MONDAY TO FRIDAY ‘The Saints’ prinlpal dally concern was with getting out of school as early as possible, The boys managed to get out of school with minimum danger that ‘hey would be accused of playing nookoy through an elaborate procedure for ‘obtaining “ogitimato” rolease from class, Tho most common procedure was for one hoy to obtain the releaso of ancther by fabricating 4 meeting of some committee, progres, or recognized chub. Charles might raise his hand in his 19:00 chomistry lass and ask tobe oxcused—a euphemism for going to the bathroom, Chatles ould goto B's math class and inform the teacher that Bd ‘yas needed for a 80 rehearsal ofthe drama club play: The math teacher ‘would recognize Bi and Charles as “good students” involved in numerous 202 “The Saints andthe Roughaesks # 303 schoo aetvities and would permit Ed to leave a :20. Charlas would returato bis clas, and Hd would goto Ton's English lass to obtain his release, Tom ‘would engineer Charles's escape. he strategy would continu until as many ofthe Soints as possible waro treed. Aftora stealthy trip tothe ear (whieh ‘hal been parked in stratanle spo), the boys were of fr a day of fun. (Over the tro years Iobsorved the Salnts, this pattern was repeated nosey every day. There were variations oa the theme, bt inane form or another, the ‘oysused this procedur for geting outof es aan then ofthe scnol yrounts. ‘Rarely did al eight of the Saints manage to lve school at the same time. The average number avoiding school os the days I observed them was ive laving escaped from the eoneeste corridors the boys usually weet eltaerto «pool bal on the other dower-clas) side of town orto café in the subarbe. Boh places were oat ofthe way of people the boys were likly to now (family ‘or schoo officials), and both proviced a source of entertaiament. The poo hall ‘entertainment was the generally raigh etmospher, the ceeasionel buster, the sometimes druak proprstor and, cf cours, tho game of poo The cafs's enter. teinment was provided by the owzer. The boys would “aceidantal” kook a glass on the oor or spill cola on tke coanter—not al the timo, but enough to ‘be eportng, "They would also bond spoons, put satin suger bowls and generally tease whoover was working inthe eal. The owner had opened the ea recently sand was dependent onthe boys business which was, n fue, substnatial since between the barsing sround and te teasing they bought food and drinks. THE SAINTS ON WEEKENDS (On weekends the automobile was even more critical than during the weak, or on weekends the Saints went to Big Town—a large ety with a popolation ‘of over a milion 25 miles from Heribal Bvory riday and Saturday night most ff the Sons would image hatwaen 00 and 820 and would go Into Big Tow, [Big Town activities neludod drinking heavily in taverns or nightelubs, d= ‘ving drunkenly throughs the streets, and eommnittng acts of vandalism and playing pranks. ‘By midnight on Fridays and Saturdays the Saints wore usually thoroughly high, and one or two of them were oan so drunk they lsd to be eared to the eats: Then the boys drove around towm, calling obsconites to wamen and gis, ecasionally trying (unsueeessfuly so fer as I could te to pick girls up, and Aeiving eoeklessly through red lights and a high speeds with their lights out. Occasionally they payed “chicken One bay would climb out the back window ofthe car and across the roof to the driver's side of the ear while the car was ‘moving at high speed (between 40 and 50 miles an our; then the driver would move aver and the boy who had jasterawled across the ear roof would take the driver’ seat ‘Searching for “fair game" for aprank was the boys’ principal activity after ‘thay left the tavern, The boys would crve alongside a Zoot patrl-man and 2306 = WILLIAM J. CHAMBLISS ask directions to some street Ifthe policemen leaned on the earn the course of answering the question, the driver would speed! avay, causing him to ose bis balance. The Suints ware eareftl to pley this prank only in an area whare ‘they were not going to spend much time and where they could quiely dis- ‘appear oxound «carmor to avold having tha cense piste number taken. Construction ses and road repale areas were the special provinee ofthe Saints’ mischief. A soon-to-be-repaired holo in the road inevitably luvied ‘the Saints vo remeve lanterns and wooden barrierdes and pat them in the cea, leaving the hele unproteeted. The boys would find a safe vantage point and wait for an unsuspecting motorist to drive into the hole. Often, thous not always, the boys would go up tothe motorist and commiserate with him about the drendful way the ety protected its citizenry. Leaving the scene ofthe open hole ana the motorist, the boys would then 0 searching for ar appropriate place to erect the stolen barricade. An "appro- priate place" was often a epot on shigway near a curve inthe road where the bareicade wotld not be seen by an oncoming motorist, The boys would ‘wait to watch an unsuspecting motorist attompt co stop and (usually) crash into the wooden baricade, With saintly besring the boys might offer help and ‘understanding. ‘Astolon lanteramight well ind its way onto the back of polle car or hang fom a street lamg. Onee alentarn served a8 a prop fora reenactment ofthe “midnight ride of Paul Revere” unvll the “pay,” whieh was taking place at 2:00 ax. inthe centor ofa main street of Big Town, wasinterrupted bya police ‘ar several blocks away. Phe boys an, leaving the lanterns on te street, and managed to avoid 2eing apprehended. Abandoned hows especialy i they were loeated in ot-oFthe-way places, ‘were fair gan for destruction and spontancous vandalism. The boys would break windows, move furniture to tho yard and tar it apart urinate-on tho ‘walls, and seravi chseonitos inside ‘Through all the pranks, drinking, and reckless driving the boys menage ‘miraenlonsy to avold being stopped by police. Only twice in two years was | aware that they had been stopped hy Big Town polleeman. Onee was speed- Ing (which they did every time thay drove whethor they were drunk ar sober), and the diver managed to convince the policeman that i¢ was simply an ero. ‘Thesecond time tiny were siopped hey had just lea nightclub and were wall- Ing through an alky. Asron stopped to urinate and the boys began making cbscene remarks. foot pasrolmn came into the ale, lectured the boys an sont them home. Bafore the boys got to the car one began talking ina loud voice ‘again, Toe policeman, who bad followed them down the alle, arrested this boy tor disturbing the peace and took hits tothe police station where the other Saints gathered, After paying a $5.00 fine, and withthe assurance tha there ‘wonld be ne pormenent rocord of th arrct, tho boy was released. "The bays had spirit of rvolity and fum about ther escapades. They did not viow what thay ware engaged in as delinquency, though l'surly was by any e “The Saints and the Roughnecks # 308 ‘reasonable defiiton of that wor, They simpy viewed themselves as having a lite fun and who, they world esk, was really hurt by it? The answer bnd to bbeno one, although this fact remains ane of tae most difcalt things to explain bout the gang's behavior. Unlikely though i ecems, in two years of drinking, driving, carousing, ard vandalism no one was seviously injured as resi of ‘the Saints’ activites, THE SAINTS IN SCHOOL ‘The Saints were highly success Jn school The average grade forthe group ‘as "B" with two af the boys having close to a straight "A" average. Alamos ll ‘ofthe boys were popular and many of them held offices in the school, One of ‘the boys was vice president of the student body one year. Six ofthe boys played on athletic teams. ‘At the end oftheir senlor yea, tho student body selected ten seniors foe special recognition as the “school wheels"; four of the ten were Saints, Teach ersand schoo officials saw no problem wits any of these boys and anticipated ‘hat they would all “make someting of themecives.” low the bays managed to maintain tis impression is surprising in view of ‘their actual behavior in school. Their tchnique for covering truancy was 50 success that teachers did not even realize that the hoys wate absent from schol mueh ofthe time. Occasimally, of cours, the system woald backtire and then the boy was on hs own. A bay who was esught would be most con ct wold lend ity an aor mary. Heiney ot he mary be Cheating on examinations was rampant, eve tothe point of orally eornm- nicating answers to exams s well as looking at ane mother's papers, Since none of the group studied, and since they were primarily dependent on one nother for help, it is surprising that erades were so high, Teachers contibuted ‘othe deception in tholr admitted ineliation to give these boys and presurn- bly others ike thom) the benefit the douht. When asked how the hoys di in schoo, and when pressed on spec examinations, touchers might admit that {hey were dissppointed in John's perfarmance, but Would quickly ade that they “knew that he was expable of doirg better,” 0 John wae given a higher grado then he had zetually earned. How often this happened is impossible to know. During the time that [observed the group, !never saw any ofthe boys take bhoinework home. Teachers may have been “understanding” wery egnlary, ‘One exception o the gang's generally good performance was Jerzy, who ‘bad a“C" average in his junior yenr, experienced disaster the next year, and failed to graduate, Jerry had always been alittle more nouehlant than the others about the lertias he tookin school, Rather than wait for someone to ‘come get him from class te would offer his own exeuse and leave. Althowgh he probably di not miss aay more class than most af the others in the group he ‘lid not take the requisite pains to over his absences. Jerry waa the only Saint 306 # WILLIAM J. CHAMBLISS fa rack ashe Aout often calli wreerasanart thoy nerfs aonomar oes eretieattreonpi esc tytn hac ory ai i ear Scars metre promos isos er wre comsaguenee ft "Stpving te ein rope ny myn wnat is ae aoray ts tncorroired ni ons ad que Feeio econ THE POLICE AND THE SAINTS aa ois he ents as god ore who mre ang the dere Teta th community, Rare, oye man be eppodin dam or ‘speoting or for-unnng a stop sign. When this happened the boys were always ‘Pin andl erry sinha hy ered re thy rae oe Nae needs Vleror acho eet ye alice : “he tn i Teve wn tho bre ngs eto i date gun an ony agar Tin poco ee eke ees BeToughcoussaly tn ope were apd patrlnan Ore hey See ina lunrn tomentose Acer i hye Topper ruriga say dy andonsovere cen thy were oe stpontng Tu enor tsb sntt pteané er e than als ete pol acted bl enaner anee Mowe Impala tn le werecenied ha ae ween ss a fone THe RoUGHNECKS nial owaseope never period he Sli ih ew! fing "he Sante eve gud bp whnjast went nf an ocean rac Afr flere nese el nerd ante tear Rouges tere ron ryan sane Tha both ous enzgedn an amount of win sowing everyone tered tht nor voll, tao we-mannared no Fih bere eve honing toe. Toynspeople wold ay, You ean seth Et Tnborsat be drugsiore aig rng eng aint to sorte (Commas rk orsnling sos ste gots rening a5 ‘ier ans prob sai MW bind Wn iy rte rival boven oes steve oye mae suggstve roar ‘Ziel rena ave dons” ‘rome enantio, heaton at thee is rei teabiewast ey tere coantiyinvld wih th pall, Sor ten Maw pik fo eng, alt fous, ht ls Seung anal ul esti” "Toohd pels ‘The Saints andthe Rovghnacke = 307 Dau that these boys couldn’ behave lke the other kids in town; stay out of ‘ouhle, be polite to eduls, and lon to theke future” ‘The community's improssionof the dogroes to which this group of six boys ‘ranging in age from 18019) engaged in denguency was somewhat dstorced, In some ways the gang was more dolinguent than the community thoughts other mays they were less ‘The fighting activites ofthe group were faisly realy nd accurately per- covey almost everyone. At least once a moath, the hoys would ge into some ort of fight although most fights were sera berweon members ofthe group or favoived only cne member of te group and some perineal hanget-on- Only ‘eee times in the period of observation did the group fight togethor: once ‘against gang from serosstowr, once against two blacks an ones against a {group of boys from another schol. For the first two fights the group went et “locking for trouble"—and they found it both times. The third et followed a football game and began spontarcously with an argument on the foothall ld ‘between one ofthe Roughnecks anda meraber of the opposition’ football tam, Jackchas a particular propensity for fighting and was involved in most the bbrawis, He wns a prime mavor ofthe esealation of arguments int fights. More serious thn fighting, lsd the community boon amare of, was thef Atthough almost everyone was aware tha the boys occasionally stole things, they did not realize te extent uf the activity. Pety stealing wes a frequent even for the Roughnecks. Sometimes they stole as 9 group and coordinated ‘hei efforts; other things they stole in pairs. Raruly did they steal lene. ‘The thefts ranged from very small things lke paperback books, comies, and ballpoint pens to expensive items Ike watches. The nature of tho thefts var- ied from time ta time, The gang would go through a period of systematically iting items from sutomobiles orschool lockers, Typesof thievery varied with ‘the whim of the gang. Some forus of thiovery were more profitable them oth int all nefts wer fb promt not jase til Roughnecks siphoned gasoline from cars ns often a8 they had access to aa, ‘automobile, which was not very ten. Unlike the Saints, who owned their own ‘ars the Roughnecks would have o borrow thsi parents cara, anevent whieh ‘ceurred only eight or nine imesa year. The boys elsimed to have stolen ears for oy vise from te to time, ‘Ron commitied the most seriou of the group's offenses, With an unidenti fed associato the boy attempted to burglarize gasoline station. Although tis station had been robbed tice previously inthe same month, Ron denied any involvement in ither of the other thefts, When Ron and his aecomplice lppronched the station, the ownsr was hiding in the bushes beside the sia tion. He fred both barrels of a doable-barreled shotgun at the boys. Roa was ‘severoy inured; the other boy rus away and was never eaught. Thongh be remained ie evteal condition forsavoral mons, Ron finally recovered and ‘served six months of the following yea in reform school. Upon release from form school, Ron was puthaekce grade in school and begat: running aroun 908 = WILLIAM J. CHAMBLISS ‘with a different gang of boss. Tae Rouhneeks considered the new gang less