18 January, 2011

Be Prepared!

Not long ago (in a previous post) I referenced what I term "the boy scout massacre" which, taken at face value implies that said Boy Scouts had been decimated - when in reality it was they who did the annihilating. Villa Turicum was not prepared. A rather ironic twist, no?

I recently pulled out an old clipping I have from May of 1951 to grudgingly revisit the scene of the crime on May 20, 1950, when one hundred and fifty Scouts had their vandalistic foray and waged their mock war on the Villa Turicum. Yes, you just read that correctly. One Hundred and Fifty. Boy Scouts.

So what happened? On that spring day in 1950, the Scouts were on a day's outing (Do a Good Turn Daily!) when it was decided to stage a battle at Villa Turicum; as reported, "breaking windows, knocking heavy urns and statues from pedestals, chopping ornamental doors with their scout hatches, and carrying out numerous other attacks."

When the then Lake Forest Chief of Police Frank Tiffany was contacted, he stated that, "no arrests were made because an attorney, acting for parents who wanted to hush up the affair, promised to take care of the matter."

I have to say it amazes me to this day that I hear so little about this event. Given that the median age of a Boy Scout is 8-14, that would leave quite a few of our veterans still about. Remember, there were 150 of them!

(I should make it clear here that the suit filed in Federal Court was not against the Boy Scouts. Liberty National Bank of Chicago, who was the trustee for the Villa Turicum syndicate filed suit against the insurance companies on their failure to pay on policy provisions that applied to losses incurred by "riot, civil commotion, vandalism, or malicious mischief." )

Bear in mind, this is not the only incident to occur at Villa Turicum, so I'd like to swing the spotlight off of the Scouts and turn it to an incident that occurred twenty years earlier, which (although bizarre) has a certain romance to it.

Police were called to the house in May of 1931 because it was discovered in between watchmen shifts that the house had been ransacked. Jack Dunford, Villa Turicum's long time superintendent reported the burglary to police immediately.

Our venerable Chief of Police Frank Tiffany was also involved in this event. This time the chief was puzzled because Villa Turicum, containing it's already priceless collection of tapestries, paintings, objects d'art and a sizable amount of jewelry (Edith was still alive) had been ransacked yet nothing was missing.


It was possible, Chief Tiffany suggested, that the looters were scared away before they could take anything. Yet that doesn't explain why they were able to spend a great deal of time (between 5:30-7:00 p.m.) methodically searching every room. Another theory presented was that they were searching for valuable papers and letters.

Given that this occurred on May 9th of 1931, (nearly twenty years to the day) could this perhaps have involved some of the parents of our Scouts?! One can only wonder.

1 comment:

Tracy Donohue said...

This makes me feel sick - and sad.