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Crickets For Lunch

Since I’m in Ireland this week, I decided to write a follow up column to my post last week about stupid high school pranks back in the day compared to now. Avondale High School was a preeminent high school at the time, but it’s closed now. We vied for the state football championship in 1971 but got absolutely shellacked by Valdosta in the championship game. In 1977, Avondale wOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAon the state title. But it’s been downhill ever since, to the point of closure.

As a graduating senior, I was a bit of a comedian. I frequently pulled various stunts and generally got away with it, being as how I was a good student and always respectful to my teachers and administrators. Plus I didn’t get caught.

This was not my idea, but I did participate, so I’m guilty as a “party to the crime” participant under Georgia law (OCGA 16-2-20). Yes, the getaway driver can be just as guilty as the one who holds up the bank, and so it should be. Maybe the level of punishment varies, but the crime is the crime. That’s today’s law lesson, boys and girls. Don’t do this just because I did. It was a different time back then.

We seniors pooled our money and bought a few crickets, well more like 10,000 black crickets. It was 10 bags as the bait store told us that there were 1,000 crickets in each bag. It was hard to count the crickets, they kept jumping around, so we took their word for it.

Now Avondale was a huge school, partly because it had 8th through 12th grade, so there were about 2,500 students. Cafeteria time was in stages obviously, but the 8th grade pretty much ate lunch together. So when the poor little kiddos were in the cafeteria, we approached. We had designated bag holders and designated door holders. I was a door holder. I opened my door and the bag delivery guys slung the open bags into the room. There were two sets of doors and we hit both at the same time. The doors opened outward, so once the bags were fully deployed, we door holders simply stood outside the door and kept the poor little screaming kids locked in the lunchroom. It was just crickets after all.

The principal, a super nice guy, came walking up as the screaming was evident for miles. I stepped aside and he opened the door. He looked around, closed the door and walked away. As he did, he told us to go back to class.

No one was suspended. No one was arrested. No one was sent to ISS. No one lost their college scholarship. No one was denied their diploma. No one was prohibited from walking with the class. No one died as a result of the crickets. I’m guessing the janitors made quick work of the little dudes, but the next day, all as normal.

I’m not condoning graffiti or physical damage to a school. I’m not condoning anything that causes someone physical harm. But school pranks, if they are thoughtful and non-destructive, shouldn’t result in criminal charges. But I come from a different time, when cops actually chewed you out for speeding, maybe called your parents, instead of locking every speeder up. And school administrators could laugh at a good prank. Those were the days.

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