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Kutztown residents usually have a daily chore checking their property for beer cans, soda pop and pizza boxes, etc. discarded on their residences, regardless how many borough waste cans are available on the streets. This Mardi Gras Activity seems to be accompanying the alcoholic behavior of University student’s extra curricular off campus events.
An optimist who still lives in Kutztown, I can recall the earlier days when President Quincy Rohrbach frowned on students who patronized any establishment who served alcoholic beverages in downtown Kutztown, whose behavior was detrimental to our community.
The other day while I picked up refuse and beer cans discarded at my residence by college rouges demonstrating their poor citizenship, I could not help but to remember my amusing neighbor, Stanley George, who lived above me on West Main Street. Likeable Stanley George, who maintained the up keep on his large brick masoned home with high porch columns, became so disturbed with college students taking a short cut behind his shrubbery that he interwove thorny rose cuttings behind his shrub to protect it from abuse by trespassers.
The George family, like so many Kutztown residents that took care of their Main Street property, were the type of citizens who make this early American town an ideal place in which to live in spite of being a “College Town” whose population swells at certain times of the year too large to accommodate its, “Agreeable Town” image being a quaint PA Dutch community that excels in cooking, baking and craftsmanship.
Having faced the same type of problem trying to protect my expensive boxwood shrubs in front of the Town Crier’s House, from college trespassers. I replaced them with thorny, prickly Holly bushes. But I always enjoyed Mr. George’s home spun philosophy whenever I got a chance to drink a beer with him at a bar downtown.
One day while walking with Stanley on Main Street after he finished a can of beverage, he threw the empty can on the lawn of a neighbor! Quite taken by surprise, he knew I was upset by his actions.
Then he remarked, “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”
He then explained that the college students that rented that place, thought nothing about discarding their beer cans on his property further up the hill. Poor Stanley, he was so frustrated with college students taking advantage of him he felt the need to avenge himself.
But having been brought up by prim and proper rigid Victorian parents Stanley digressed for the moment, but both he and I did not approve of littering, no matter how sweet the revenge seemed for the moment.
But these widely diverse urban college students from all walks of life represent a sort of micro-ism of international life. Where as the civic and Christian principles followed by our local town folk can be abused by these brash college students whose alcoholic habits have superseded the best interest of our town’s safety.
An innocent hard working senior citizen whose Victorian parents did not raise him up that way to disobey community morals, Stanley, who enjoyed his happy hour breaks with other members of the working class, was not a mean man. But was fed up with the rowdy behavior of college students. It now appears that the current president of Kutztown University could follow the wisdom of Quincy Rohrbach to regain the integrity the University has now lost from alcoholism.
Richard Shaner is director of the American Folklife Institute in Kutztown.