My brother and I were on the square
one afternoon when we were approached by youths we
occasionally got drunk with. It was sometime in the early/mid
70s. A young man living in a second floor apartment somewhere
on the West End was about to become an event!
"Hey!" They called. "So
and so- lives up the street- is in trouble. He's seeing a girl
in Thurmont and a bunch of Thurmont boys are coming to beat
him for it! Her brother or boy friend or someone called him
and said they're coming- two car loads- with ball bats. They
said they'll drag him out of the house and beat him in the
My brother and I were outraged. How
dare Thurmont trash come into our town and threaten our
friends! (Not that we lived in town or I'd ever shared a beer
with the man.) We started calling out other young idiots to
move as a gang and place ourselves between the threatened and
About that time the intended victim
comes stepping down the opposite sidewalk with a
double-barreled shotgun broken open and slung over his
shoulder. He gave us a determined look as he approached the
police car parked in front of today's Stavros'. The cop sat
mouth agape as the young man stopped and began telling (I
heard later) about the threats he'd received and what he
planned to do if any of the Thurmont fools breached his
I couldn't hear what he said but I saw
him straighten, reach into his pocket, pull out two 12-gauge
shotgun shells, slip them into his gun and snap the breech
shut. He said something else to the cop who nodded grimly. Gun
at his side, the fellow walked back up the street passed us.
"Let 'em come." He growled as he went by. "I
told the cop I'd kill as many as I can if he didn't stop them
first. I've got a box of double aught! Let 'em come!"
Whoa! The game had changed. We'd
expected a couple of car loads of half drunk Thurmont boys
would meet an equal number of Eburgers and there'd be shouts
and curses and threats and maybe, MAYBE, a few fists would fly
and some teeth and noses would be broken before the Thurmont
crowd fled. But a LOADED SHOTGUN! On the square! In daylight!
And LOADED IN FRONT OF A COP! WHO DID NOT ARREST THE MAN AT
ONCE!? Whoa indeed.
We were about to witness some
killings. Our group scattered to pound on doors. Our friends
had to be in on this, all of them!
It was during this rousting of the
youths that my dad pulled up in his car and demanded to know
what was going on. We told him and he turned black with anger.
"Get in the car!" He snarled. Our protests died in
the glare of his rage. His two oldest boys weren't about to
ruin their lives just to be part of a gang of idiots about to
I learned the next day the cop spotted
and stopped two cars crowded with drunken boys from Thurmont.
It is said he merely told them where the man they were looking
for lived. That he had seen this man load a shotgun with
double aught buck shot. He told them he was going to follow
them up the street and sit in his car until he'd counted 25
gun blasts. Then he was going to arrest any fools still alive.
He didn't think he'd be cuffing anyone from Thurmont.
No gun blasts announced death that
So that's the "almost" event
as I recall it. Did I get the story right? There were at least
8 youths on the street to witness the shotgun being loaded.
They'd tell 8 different versions. Did the cop actually tell
the Thurmont boys he was going to let them die before he
stepped in as the LAW? Knowing that cop, I don't doubt it. He
wasn't stupid and he wouldn't have lost sleep over drunken out
of towners being eliminated from his job. Especially if some
of the local rowdies got hurt bad enough to keep them caged
for awhile. But did he really say the things I report?
The story is a fine one to tell over
beers on fishing trips or around barroom tables. Who cares if
it's true or not? None came to harm and the names have all
been forgotten. Why ruin it with the "truth"?
that the little book, stating Emmitsburg's founding history,
is wrong is a different matter. People make plans around this
history for some odd reason. If momentous events are being
planned in connection with the history of Emmitsburg then it
ought to be the real history of Emmitsburg shouldn't it?
I must admit when Mike called me and
asked if I'd read the Dispatch articles about the founding
date of Eburg I groaned. (I'd been eager to see what Editor
Steo had done with a piece we'd worked back and forth, and
neither seemed happy with. It was dropped from the Dispatch.)
"I don't really care when Emmitsburg was founded
Mike." I said. (I'm having enough trouble witnessing its
"But would you at least look at
what I've found?" He asked. So I did. And the little
book, so many grew up believing holds the real history of
Emmitsburg, is wrong. I still don't care. If anything I hope
the town keeps the wrong date. This gives me one more point
about Emmitsburg to laugh at! I'm even working with one of my
sisters to get a T-shirt made up. Something like:
CAUTION! You are
confronting an EMMITSBURGER!
Pointing out the OBVIOUS may cause IRRATIONAL crankiness!
With all the people I post on various
boards on the Net I should get people laughing all around the
globe! This is great. I'm going to start posting the Dispatch
and Mike's links in all my emails and see if I can get
everyone laughing at the same time. Maybe if Emmitsburg is
quiet that day we'll hear the world laughing at a town that
doesn't want its fantasy history replaced with the truth!
other articles by Jack Deatherage, Jr.