I pulled into the parking lot of one of those so-called discount department stores the other day and the first thing I saw was a huge sign that warned “NO LOITERING.” In much smaller print were the words “Violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Jeez, when I was a kid, loitering was our favorite pastime.
When it came to things kids did back then, loitering won hands-down over such youthful pastimes as playing pom-pom pull-away and tipping over unused outhouses left over from the days when our fathers tipped over outhouses that were still being used.
But in our defense we never loitered at really big discount stores because, to be perfectly honest with you, there weren’t any really big discount department stores back then.
We did most of our loitering outside bowling alleys, drive-in restaurants and an occasional grocery store.
And, just between you and me, we were pretty darned good loiterers in the early 1950s.
Hey, let’s face it.
Kids loved to loiter back then.
Loitering was an art form with young people.
We never damaged property while we loitered but I will confess we wrote “KILROY WAS HERE” more than a few times on sidewalks with orange chalk even though none of us had the foggiest idea what the term “KILROY WAS HERE” actually meant.
The world is filled with all sorts of ways kids can get in trouble, but, in my opinion loitering isn’t one of them.
The last line on the sign I saw bothers me a little bit, too.
I mean, hey, what do they mean by “Violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law?”
I’m thinking they mean if a couple of kids are caught loitering in that particular parking lot they could face life in prison or possibly be deported to somewhere really, really awful like any large industrial city in the Midwest.
Or, worse yet, maybe they would be forced to spend the rest of their lives watching TV sitcoms, or those terrible soap operas that air every afternoon.
Bob Batz is a retired long-time journalist and weekly columnist. Contact Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org.