There are dumb crooks and there are really dumb crooks.

In the early hours of Dec. 12, 1937, a taxi driver was flagged down by three men on Sydney Street with a large barrel in their possession, which was placed in the trunk and unloaded at a Bedford Street home. 

The next day, acting on a tip, city cops investigating the theft of a 12-gallon, 200-pound keg of beer from the Carleton Hotel on First Street East (former Lafayette/Aardvark), raided the home where they discovered the keg of suds in the basement, untapped. The trio had planned on bootlegging the beer.

Court was told that the men broke into the hotel after it closed, took the keg out the back door, rolled it across the backyard and lifted it over a fence. Realizing they couldn’t roll it all the way over to Bedford Street, three blocks away, they hailed the cab. 

They might have gotten away with the heist if they hadn’t refused to pay the cab driver, who reported being ripped-off by three men lugging a large barrel which they took into the house.

The cops made the connection and a few hours later had the trio in custody and the suds back at the hotel.

In court two days after the arrests, the so-called brains of the operation got a three-month sentence. His two partners pulled down one-month sentences, all to be served in the county slammer.

THIS MONTH CIRCA 1937 – Cornwall municipal employees were given a five-cent-an-hour increase boosting the hourly rate to 40 cents. … The police budget for the new year was set at $15,000. The department was given the green light to hire two more constables that would bring the force strength to seven officers. A new car and radio system were included in the budget. … Police statistics for the year listed 648 offences, 236 arrests, nine stolen automobiles (seven recovered) and 21 stolen bicycles (14 recovered). … A homelessness report showed that the municipality had provided overnight shelter, at the Pitt Street police station, and breakfast to 2,785 men up to the end of November. … The Dec. 8 municipal election had a record turnout with 80% of eligible voters casting their ballots. These days 40% is considered a good turnout. Dr. W. A. Milligan was elected mayor, replacing Aaron Horovitz who didn’t run for re-election. … Rev. Oscar Doyon, son of Mrs. George Doyon of Elm Street, was serving as a Roman Catholic missionary in war-torn China. … Just days after being re-elected to council, William Kavanagh died of a heart attack. He was 38. He became the first elected city official to die in office. … Auto accidents, fires and drownings accounted for most of the 42 accidental deaths in Cornwall and area up to the end of November. Twenty died in traffic accidents. … The Dionne quintuplets – Emilie, Yvonne, Marie, Cecile and Annette – celebrated their fourth Christmas in the Northern Ontario nursery which was taking care of them. Their parents and six brothers spent the day with them. … When the traditional way of fighting a chimney fire – pouring buckets of snow down the chimney – at 60 Marlborough St. didn’t work, members of the local fire brigade connected a hose to a 70-gallon pressure tank and stuffed 15-feet of hose down the chimney. The snow bucket method, used in two other chimney fires the same say, was employed to prevent water damage. … The Canada Bread bakery at 429 York offered a wide array of holiday goodies, everything from minced pies to plum puddings. … On a frozen Varsity Stadium field before 15,000 fans, Toronto Argonauts edged Winnipeg Blue Bombers 4-3 in the Grey Cup game. … In Russia, all Communist candidates were elected to parliament. The official government news agency congratulated the successful candidates – the only ones on the ballots – and noted with pride that except for those too sick to get to the polls, all 90 million eligible voters cast ballots. Voters had two choices: Yes or no.

THE COURTS CIRCA 1937 – A man who stole laundry from Nazareth Orphanage and tried to sell the goods to a used clothing store on Pitt Street was handed a 30-day jail term. … Mag. Bergeron wasn’t buying a man’s plea for mercy, saying he would get out of town if given a break by the judge. And by the way, judge, he said, “Merry Christmas.” It didn’t work. He got 30 days. … A homeless man, in court on his third charge of begging and for stealing a ham from a local grocer, figured it was better to spend the winter in the slammer with a roof over his head and three squares a day. So, he asked to be sent to jail. Police Chief Fred Seymour said he had offered to release the man from the station cell on Christmas Eve, but the man refused to leave. The chief said he “invited” the man to “escape” by leaving the cell door open and was surprised to find the man still there an hour later. In a gesture of “goodwill” the judge gave the man a two-month sentence. 

TRIVIA ANSWER Four ghosts appeared to Ebenezer Scrooge: Christmas past, Christmas present, Christmas yet to come and Scrooge’s former business partner, Jacob Marley.

TRIVIA When it first opened, the drive-in at Pitt Street and Tollgate Road was called Cornwall Drive-in. In 1960, what was it re-named?

QUOTED – “Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” – Mark Twain

ONE FINAL THING Forty years ago Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau took a walk in the snow to consider his political future. Can’t wait for the next big snow fall to see if junior, riding low in public opinion polls. decides to go for a walk. The betting among news hounds who spend time on the Hill is that the junior edition will be leading the Liberals in the next federal election and has no plans to take “The Walk”.

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