, Derry, New Hampshire


September 27, 2012

Column: These were not the ‘Happy Days’ in Derry


That same month, there were 13 teenage girls arrested for shoplifting in Derry. The word was that they had all acted together and looked out for each other as they stole cosmetics, jewelry and the like from the five-and-dime store. They were apprehended by the store’s manager and turned over to the police. Because of their age, they were soon released to the custody of their parents. Lots of stolen items were found in the girls’ school lockers. Because this was a juvenile case, their fate before District Court Judge Grinnell is unknown. The court was also regularly dealing with many, many cases of underage drinking.

A couple of weeks later, police Chief Howard Campbell received a telephone call at 8 p.m. urging the police to come immediately to Comeau’s Beach on Beaver Lake. The anonymous caller warned that trouble was about to break out. The State Police, N.H. Motor Vehicle Department and Derry police responded with sirens wailing. There they found an agitated crowd of teenagers from Derry and Salem, all of whom seemed eager for a rumble.

After separating the two warring groups, the police began to search the five cars parked nearby. Inside they confiscated “a black jack made from a brass pipe, a two-bladed knife, an ice pick, a dagger and a rasp file.” All the young men were sent home and they were banned from the beach for the season. Chief Campbell in disgust pondered out loud: “Why is it that young people of today can’t go somewhere just to have fun?”

A meeting was called at the Adams Memorial Building to try and figure how to deal with local juvenile delinquency. The most vocal speaker was Judge Grinnell. He blamed the parents for most of the problems. He charged they were being “too lax” and “take no interest in knowing where their children are or what they are doing.” The judge said that one-half of all the cases that come before him in juvenile court deal with underage drinking. He suggested: “Voting liquor out of Derry wouldn’t do any harm.” Both the judge and Chief Campbell recommended having a townwide curfew requiring kids be off the streets by 9 p.m.

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