Gotta be bad to just have a good time

    Guest Posts on County 10 are provided by contributors and the opinions, thoughts, and comments within are their own and may not necessarily reflect those of County 10.

    Small towns are America at its finest. Yes, we need cities, but in my book, they exist so we can have a few amenities we don’t have the wherewithal to produce ourselves. Most of those cities have professional teams with insane followings. Some fans live and die with their local franchise and follow area college teams in a cult-like fashion.

    We all have favorites when it comes to athletics, but being a rabid fan isn’t something I’ve ever been.


    On the other hand, being a fan of teenagers in that murky landmine of life known as adolescence is something I’ve dedicated my career to.

    The late Hal Ketchum had his biggest hit back in 1991 with “Small Town Saturday Night.” It fits Pavillion, Lusk, Shoshoni, Riverton, Dubois, Ethete, Lander, and every community in Wyoming, even our version of “big cities.” Casper and Cheyenne wouldn’t even show up on Google Maps in California unless you zoomed in.

    Here is one of my favorite verses as Hal sings of small town expectations as Bobby says to his girlfriend, “Lucy, you know the world must be flat. ‘Cause when people leave town, they never come back.”

    It seems that way, doesn’t it? People we know pack and move to warmer, more affluent areas if they’re able, but more often follow jobs when the ones they’ve lived dry up due to economic stresses far beyond their control.


    But, there’s another lyric that brings back memories of one of the best stunts a handful of coaches ever pulled on high school kids. “Lucy’s got her lipstick on a little too bright,

    Bobby’s gettin’ drunk and lookin’ for a fight. Liquor on his breath, trouble on his mind,

    And Lucy’s just a kid along for the ride. Got a six-pack of beer and a bottle of wine. Gotta be bad just to have a good time…”


    Standing in the hall outside your classroom door during passing periods was once a requirement for every middle and high school teacher in America.

    Late one morning between third and fourth hour classes I was standing outside my classroom on the far west end of the first floor at Niobrara County High School.

    The kids were banging their lockers, letting off a little steam between classes as they always did but I noticed the junior and senior boys were huddled up in little groups all along the hall, furtively looking over their shoulders as they spoke.


    Yep, a sure sign that something was up. These guys weren’t poker-faced professionals, you could read their actions like a book.

    If anyone who was in on this that afternoon long ago recognizes themselves, remembers the incident or just finally realized what happened as they read this, you’re welcome, but as they said on Dragnet, “The names were changed to protect the innocent.”

    There was either a party brewing or a big fight about to take place after school. I listened as close as I could without getting noticed and couldn’t figure it out. At lunch, I asked other coaches if they heard anything. You’ll note I said coaches, not teachers. We had a couple of teachers who lived to nail kids and ran to the office to get the principal involved every time they had a chance and didn’t want them involved.

    Since we weren’t sure what was up, we kept the conversation between us.

    By the end of lunch, we’d pieced together what the boys were up to.

    It was a nice sunny day in mid-May, with just a week or so of school remaining.

    One of the junior boys had an older brother who’d just come back from UW. The drinking age was 19 at the time, so you’re probably ahead of the story already.

    We checked the parking lot and saw the older brother’s car parked near the football field, but the younger brother’s car was missing.

    The things teenagers don’t realize is that their teachers and coaches were young once as well and were as full of themselves then as they are now.

    One of the guys called the Lusk Liquor Store and asked Vern, the owner, if Bobby had come by that morning.

    Sure enough, he had, and he’d bought four cases of beer, and a few bottles of Boone’s Farm with a pile of one and five dollar bills.

    Bingo, there was a party going on, not a fight.

    I went back to the lot during my fifth hour prep period and there was the younger brother’s car parked next to where the older kid’s had been an hour before.

    He had a rear lift kit on it and it was sitting much lower than usual and there was water pooling up under the trunk.

    I’d like to take credit for this, but it was another coach who called the police chief, the father of one of the senior girls, and got him involved.

    The chief arrived a few minutes before school let out and parked his cruiser to block the boy’s car.

    We quickly left our rooms after the final bell and met the chief at the car.

    As the boy approached his face dropped. He knew he was in big trouble.

    The chief told him to open his trunk and he reluctantly did. As the trunk popped open we all could see it was full of ice. Ice up to the wheel wells, but nothing else.

    “Ice huh?” the chief said. “Nothing illegal about ice. Have a good afternoon.”

    We all kept straight faces and walked away as the bewildered kid just stood there, not knowing what to do.

    He’d taken money from his friends to buy beer, but there was no beer. How would he explain that?

    What he didn’t realize is that we’d gotten another key from his father who taught at the school, and he was in on it.

    We had taken all the beer and wine out of the trunk, put it in another vehicle and we never told any of the kids what we’d done.

    After the lot cleared we took the cans and bottles out to the bar at the Niobrara County Country Club and stocked the cooler with them.

    The look on that kid’s face was priceless. He had no idea what had happened, but at the same time, he knew he’d avoided a minor in possession charge.

    If you read this and remember. It was a glorious afternoon from our side and no teenagers were harmed in the writing of this story. (or later at a party)


    Related Posts

    Have a news tip or an awesome photo to share?