Run everybody - it's the "hipsters"
Editorial - Wisconsin Rapids Tribune - February 28, 1956 - reprinted with permission
"Don't Swell Ego of Teen-Age Gangs by Spreading of Rumor
Citizens of this community who were perturbed by rumors of a possible clash between
two teen-age gangs following a basketball game here last Friday night must have felt
greatly relieved by the efficiency and dispatch with which police handled the situation.
Forewarned by reports of impending trouble, Police Chief R. J. Exner prepared his
department for whatever might develop. When a large throng gathered on on a
downtown street after the game, officers were on hand to preserve order.
As the crowd grew and it appeared that the situation might get out of hand, Chief
Exner ordered the youths to disperse, and when they defied this order they were put to
rout with a shower of water from a fire hose.
It is comforting to know that our police department is well able to cope with such a
challenge as that presented by Friday night's unruly gathering.
At the same time it is deplorable that there is an element among the youth of this area
which has so little regard for the rules of proper conduct as to force action of this sort
by law enforcement authorities.
Those teen-agers (leather-jacketed 'Hipsters' and 'Road Kings' from Wausau, Stevens
Point, Plover or wherever) who congregated here with the idea of creating a
disturbance deserved exactly the reception that they got. Indeed, they were fortunate
the police were there to avert trouble, else the aftermath could have been a
considerably more rueful one for them.
The so-called 'gangs' were but a minority segment of the crowd. It was largely made
up of local high school students who had been drawn to the scene by the expectation
of witnessing a brawl. These bystanders, however innocent their motives, rendered a
disservice to the police by their presence, complicating the problem of controlling the
situation. If they, too, got soaked when the fire hose was brought into play, they had
asked for it.
Authorities of Wisconsin Rapids and neighboring cities have been aware for some time
of the existence of the teen-age gangs, whose ony apparent purpose is to engage in
deviltry of one sort or another. Thus far no arrests have been made, but if they
continue in their chosen role of troublemakers, sooner or later they are certain to run
afoul of the law and be faced with serious consequences.
We agree with the view that rumor has inflated the activities and reputation of these
gangs far beyond their real importance. By giving credence to the rumors which are
circulated, the public simply helps to build a false picture of the young hoodlums'
As the authorities see it, the gang members are a group of abnormal youngsters
attempting to swell their egos by attracting attention to themselves by their unusual
attire and unsocial conduct. If this be true, it can be understood that the spreading of
rumors about their escapades gives them a sense of importance which they do not
The public would be well advised, therefore, to have no part of helping to build their
phony reputation. Parents should impress upon their children that the gangs deserve
only to be scorned and ignored--not idolized or feared.
Above all, parents should make certain that their sons and daughters do not invite
trouble by association with this hoodlum element, or even, by adopting the garb of the
gangs, give rise to the slightest suspicion that they may hold membership therein.
The law will take care of the 'Hipsters,' 'Road Kings' and others of their ilk. The job
for the rest of us is to deny them a place in the limelight and to label them for what
they really are--a bunch of misguided, foolhardy kids who will come to no good end
unless they mend their ways."