Find of the Month

January 2022 - Rowdyism

The Seattle Sunday Times of December 11, 1942, ran on its front page an article titled, "Pupils lose school bus because of rowdyism." Roosevelt High School students from Laurelhurst had been behaving badly enough to warrant a warning two weeks prior that they risked losing bus service if their conduct did not improve. The paper reported that boys "have been pelting bus drivers with missiles, on occasion have lighted ‘stink bombs’ made of photographic films which generate poisonous chlorine gas, and their behavior generally is reported to be disgraceful."

Roosevelt’s principal attributed most of the trouble to a "hazing spirit" among sophomores who felt they "must show their authority" to new freshmen. (He said most older boys came home later due to sports and activities so were not on the bus.) With busses urgently needed for transportation of workers in war industries, the principal said the boys should recognize the privilege of having a bus provided for them.

A citizen named Donald Haas (who was also a regional vice president of the National Apartment Owners Association) sent the news clipping to City Council along with a letter decrying the "appalling rowdyism" and declaring it "a shock to the citizens of our fair city." He continued,

However, for such rowdyism amongst juveniles there is always a definite cause and a definite cure. When youth becomes a problem to the community and juvenile delinquency rears its ugly head the cause is always SUB-STANDARD HOUSING! The cure would of course be obvious, nothing less than a SLUM CLEARANCE PROJECT for Laurelhurst.

Haas closed his letter by asking Council to act so that "the slums of Laurelhurst may be cleared away and these poor unfortunates cured so that they will grow into honorable citizens!"