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50 years ago this month, May edition

Teen Hullabaloo idea causes adult Hullabaloo

Would a town-sanctioned nightclub for teens keep young people occupied and safe? Or would it turn the town into an anarchic, gang-ridden, drug-infested war zone — with bikers and skulls and tattoos and stuff?  That sums up the debate as Selectmen weighed a teen Hullabaloo club, to be run by Teen Scene Enterprises. The target location was next to Almy’s, at the intersection of Winn and Cambridge Streets where Shaw’s is today. During two hearings, petitioners presented hundreds of signatures from residents on both sides of the debate.

Police Chief Edward McCafferty, after driving “300 miles” to gather feedback from other towns, came down against. He’d heard about motorcycle gangs turned away at the door and then threatening to “tear the town apart.” The general feeling in towns with these teen clubs, he said, is that, “Your town would be better off without it.”

But a town survey conducted by the Burlington Jaycees, a club proponent, suggested that 90 percent of Burlington residents considered the town’s youth facilities inadequate. George Chaloux, 15, spoke in favor, saying Burlington has “nothing for the kids.” Ruth Benishin of Beaverbrook Road said, “Let’s show our faith in young people by giving them a license.”

The proposed club stipulations were:

  • Burlington residents only
  • Age 14 to 18
  • Parental signatures required
  • Building would have acoustical ceiling and walls, so that music couldn’t be heard from more than 100 feet away
  • High school dress code applies
  • Club owners hire one policeman per 100 guests
  • Policewoman present for all performances
  • Anyone suspended from the club would need the police chief’s approval to re-enter
  • Parking lot must be emptied by 11:15
  • No performances on school nights
  • No smoking or drinking

Franklin Jackson of Manor Ave. called this “the best proposal for Burlington kids that has come along in quite a while.” Burlington High School social studies teacher Carl Stasio said he was neutral on the club idea, but didn’t see a good reason to ban out-of-town children.

Selectmen Ray Harris and Robert Vigneau said they visited a Hullabaloo in Westerly, RI and were “appalled” because in the final 20 minutes before closing, they witnessed three fights and two “knifings.” After much parliamentary bickering and bickering in general, the teen club proposal was defeated in a 3-2 vote.

Graduates and their plans . . .



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