Canada Street: College kids drink up in 1961

Booze and bad manners disturbed the peace
People enjoy the nice weather on Canada Street in the Village of Lake George in Lake George on Sunday, June 9, 2019.
People enjoy the nice weather on Canada Street in the Village of Lake George in Lake George on Sunday, June 9, 2019.

Editor’s note: There was no family fun on Canada Street on Sept. 4, 1961. College kids were heading back to class … but showed very little class during their farewells to summer. This article originally appeared in The Gazette on Sept. 4, 2006.

Daniel Simpson Day, John Blutarsky and Eric Stratton missed this road trip.

But “D-Day,” “Bluto,” “Otter” and their friends from the rowdy college movie “Animal House” would have been naturals for scenes in Lake George on Monday, Sept. 4, 1961.

About 1,500 college kids had traveled to the Adirondack resort village, and their Labor Day boozing and bad manners made Warren County sheriff’s deputies want to shout during the early morning hours.

Young men and women from all over the country poured down glasses of suds, then poured into Canada Street at about 3 a.m. They started tossing beer cans; their screams disturbed the peace.

“For the next two hours, police — aided by civilian defense officials and volunteer firemen — tried to control the mob,” the Schenectady Gazette reported. “When the first spray of water hoses hit them, the youths surged toward the officers. But the water pressure was increased and the mob dispersed.”

Police originally nabbed 75 juicers, many wearing college names on their T-shirts. About 60 were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct, public intoxication and petty larceny. The county jail, then designed to hold about 30 prisoners, bulged with extra guests. Collegians from New York, Vermont and even Minnesota got to know each other better, as six to nine revelers were packed into each holding cell.

As dawn approached, visitors began thinking less of Budweiser, Schlitz and Utica Club and maybe a little more about English literature, physical science and microeconomics. The cells became quiet, and deputies later served wheat cereal, milk and coffee for breakfast.

Most of the detainees would be released on bail, but one kid would not be able to sing “See you … in September.” He drew a 30-day jail sentence.

Late summer benders might have been a fad at the time. Mobs of drunken college students also gave police headaches in Hampton Beach, N.H., and Ocean City, Md., in early September of ’61.

In Schenectady, officials at Union College could breathe easy; no Union students had been caught misbehaving in Lake George.

More: Your guide to summer on Lake George

Categories: Life and Arts

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