This week in Thursday Night LIFE, I’m showcasing an actual article, since I’ve been profiling a lot of advertisements, and I thought it might be fun to look at some real content. The article is about a “children’s court,” and since the text is, you know, relevant, I’m transcribing it here. If you want to see larger versions of the images, click on them. It’s an interesting article because it foreshadows the modern trend of having children discipline each other through the use of courts of their peers.
Children’s Court Rules West Dallas Playground
Many a Texas bad man was born and bred in West Dallas, and today in its streets urchins play at being Clyde Barrow, Bonnier Parker or the Hamilton brothers. They throw rocks, play tricks on policemen, raise hell. But this year there are 300 exceptions to this rule–children who frequent the playground of the Toy Loan Association, neighborhood’s only playground.
This spring the children came forward with their own plan for juvenile law and order: a “court” to punish infractions of their playground code. Judge and court attaches are elected by the children from their own number. Court sessions are serious, penalties real. Juvenile authorities are enthusiastic, hope the children, by learning to be good playground citizens, will become good citizens of West Dallas.
A picture of a young man in judge’s robes, with the caption “Judge Billy Carpenter, 11, weights a point of juvenile law. He preserves order in his courtroom with a wooden mallet.”
A shot from behind and below, showing that the judge is setting on a stack of books to raise his height, with the caption “No legal briefs but books from the Toy Shot library raise short judge to height required by the dignity of the bench.”
An image of court in session, with the caption: “Defense Attorney Flossie Molock, 10, points dramatically at Sam Meadows, 10, charges with throwing rocks at girls. Reporter records “Bill tolled him to stop 3 times.” Sam didn’t, so the patrols arrested him. Children insist judge, prosecutor (high stool) and Flossie wear black robes for dignity. Ahead of Texas law, court allows women jurors (left).”
An image of the audience, a mix of children and adults, with the caption: “Court spectators are usually playfellows, at judge’s discretion a few adults (above: local judges, probationary officials, social workers), but children thought it up, operate without interference. Officials are satisfied a child respects the judgment of his peers more than their their own authority, hope he will learn a healthy respect for law, avoid real crime later.”
A young girl in robes behind a desk, leaning on her elbow.
The caption reads: “The defense rests. Attorney Flossie made an eloquent 10-min. address to the jury, protested the prosecution’s demand to banish Sam from the playground for a week. Her plea to let her client go scot free impressed her adult audience, not the jury.”
An image of Sam in the dock, waving his arms.
The caption reads: “In the dock Prisoner Sam strikes a pose, smiles hopefully but fails to move the court. Guilt was established–Judge Billy himself saw him throw the rocks. Only question was the penalty. Prisoner’s seat is a hard box to increase humiliation.”
A young boy being marched down the stairs of the courthouse by two others wearing sashes which read “patrol.”
The caption reads: “Convicted and sentenced by the jury, Sam hangs his head as he leaves in the custody of two patrols. He faces two hours in jail, ten days away from the playground.”
Sam is shown in jail, looking woeful.
The caption reads: “Behind bars, Sam serves his sentence. Jail is a converted woodshed. The sentences range from 30 min. to four hours. Sam got the limit in exile from the playground.”
An image from inside the jail, showing children playing just beyond the bars.
The caption reads: “From his cell window Sam can watch the others playing nearby. This is calculated to impress on him the cost of his misdeeds, lets the others keep an eye on him.”
Pretty interesting, eh?