Saturday, April 12, 2008

Bomb Threat

When we (meaning me and Brad Carter) were in about 4th grade cordless telephones were just barely getting to be affordable for general use. I don't mean those primitive cell phones that you had to lug around in a box. I just mean land line telephones that lived in your house but were not physically attached to the base with a long curly leash. (that makes me sound old)(how cool) My parents did not buy one for at least a decade, literally, I am sure. The reasoning behind that went something like : "How would you like to have to look all over the house for the phone every time you needed to use it?" (Mom and Dad also did not own a microwave until I was 15 or so, they drove the same car for the first 14 years of my life, they did not own a TV until I was 24, and as I write, they are thinking maybe someday they might look into having the internet in their home.)

Brad's parents, on the other hand, were the first people I ever heard to own a cordless phone. It was a big deal.

Brad and I lived on the same block. The elementary school we went to was the next block over diagonally. (its been knocked down since- victory at last). Brad's house was a house and a parking lot away from the street corner we shared with the school.

Each classroom had a small typed (yes TYPED- probably mimeographed too) notice posted by the door. It contained mostly gibberishy information and was intended only for adults and teachers. We only noticed this notice (ahem) because when recess time came the teacher always made us line up by the door before we could leave. So while we waited for the rest of the kids to form ranks, we had nothing to do but read whatever happened to be taped up by the door.

There was only one thing interesting on the notice and it went something like this:

"In the event of Fire, Earthquake, Tornado, Extreme cold, Snow, Natural Disaster or Bomb threat, all classes will be Cancelled". (emphasis added)

Brad realized that we had the power to create at least two of the items on the list. Also, he needed to test the potential of his parents new cordless phone.

One day he wore a jacket to school, weather not withstanding. In the inner pocket of that jacket, he revealed to me at recess, he had smuggled in the new phone. His plan was to go to the corner of the playground nearest to his house and see if how good the range of this phone was. If it worked out we could spend our recess time making prank calls. We could even prank the school from school. The irony seemed thick at the time. But Brad also thought it would be a good idea to use the phone to make a bomb threat and see if we got out of class for the day.

We hunkered down in the corner of the playground. Brad hunched his jacket up over his head so no one could see him talking on the phone. He dialed the principal's office. The reception was terrible, but he did raise the secretary.

I guess we didn't know much about how these things are supposed to be done. What he said was something along the lines of : " Uh, yes, "(in his best, deep, adult voice) "Yes, hello, I'm calling to make a bomb threat."

And then either the connection cut out, or he hung up in fear, or my excitement level spiked so hard that it wiped out my memory. I don't think we got any further with the call than that.

Anticlimactically, nothing happened. It'd be different today of course, but either the secretary didn't understand us through the static, or else nobody took the idea of a 9 year old with a bomb all that seriously back then.


timpani76 said...

What was this school called? I was just curious since I have not heard of any schools being "knocked down" in this area.

Washington Elementary is now strictly a free preschool for all the kids in East Alton. I know this, of course, because that is where Vance goes to preschool. I think Eastwood is where he will go to K-5. Right?

Ok, back to the original post. At what point did you guys start to fear the wrath of your parents or teachers? Is this what the really smart kids do when they are bored? Or is this a boy thing? I don't remember trying anything even remotely so naughty.

Brad Carter said...

It's so weird...I have absolutely no memory of this event at all. And I thought I had a great memory about this kind of thing. I remember so many random little things that we did as kids, but this one is a complete blank. And it sounds pretty awesome too, so I don't know how I'm not remembering this one. Makes me wonder how many other cool things we did that I can't remember.

I think my parents won that cordless phone in some sort of contest. They were never really into technology either - we had rotary dial phones until the mid-80's. I was always secretly jealous of your kitchen's touch tone phone, John.

That same cordless phone caused some embarrassment for me in band class one morning. I think it was in Jr. High that I had it in my gym bag. As we were all finishing up a song, we heard a telephone ringing. Everyone was looking around, wondering where it was coming from. I was horrified, and said something like, "Oh, uh, I'll get that." and I had to cross the room to my bag and switch it off.

Timpani - Francis G. Blair Elementary. I think there was another school that was knocked down at some point in the 1990's. I can't remember what it was called, but it was right next to Eastgate Cinema.

Brad Carter said...

John, I'm pretty sure it was you that came up with the idea of a cordless pay phone. But to keep people from stealing the handset, it would have to be attached to the base by a large chain.

Anonymous said...

Cordless pay phone.... oi. I'd forgotten that too.

That is totally wierd that you can't remeber that, Brad. And it is hilarious that you were jealous of our touch tone phone. I remember you always having the cool toys before I did.

Timpani, I think we lived in a continual balance between fear of being caught and .. the thrill of pulling it off, or whatever.

Blair used to be across the street from EA public library. There is a block full of newer houses there now.

Random thought: Brad do you remeber when that Ronnie kid called Mrs. Hale (our pregant 4th grade teacher) fat?

Brad Carter said...

For me I think there was always the fear of the teachers and parents, but since I already received regular paddlings from the teachers/principal and my dad (with a belt), there wasn't anything they had to scare me with.

And nope, I don't remember Ronnie saying that to Mrs. Hale. Did bad things happen?

Anonymous said...

lol, i remember u telling me that story one time. i ove that story! its a gag.


Anonymous said...

Hi, this is D. Huffcutt and that was so funny! Thank you for emailing it to me br. Sever!!!

Eyepoke said...

D huffcutt! so glad you dropped in! We love it here in MO, but we definately miss people like you back in Peoria!!!!!!!

thanks for being a pal! say hi to everyone back up north!

love ya!