Barber Pole Pranksters


Hello! Six weeks ago, I announced a flash fiction giveaway offer (described in the link below), based on the last line of an 1891 newspaper article:

If you meet a party of eight young men with a barber pole, don’t arrest them. They own it.

You tell the story!

barber poleThe challenge was to write a short-short account of what you think may have led up to that last line. As a thank-you, story-posters had their choice of an audio version of books 1 or 2, or an ebook of books 1, 2, 3, or 4.

We had a fair number of comments, and one intrepid soul posted a story (thank you, Kassandra Lamb!).  Check it out using the original post link above – it’s a fun read!

In the meantime, I thought you would enjoy the original newspaper story. How DID eight young men come to own a barber shop pole in 1891? Here it is, cleaned up from an OCR of the original for ease of reading:


Some Harvard Students Have Lots of Fun with Boston Policemen.

“There isn’t so much deviltry in private among the students today as there was a few years ago,” said a graduate of Harvard, “but their pranks in public are getting bolder as time advances. I will tell you a good story illustrative of this. During my sophomore year there was a party of eight young fellows belonging
to my class who were all the time looking for a chance to create a sensation. They had become involved in several little scrapes with the Boston police on account of their practical jokes, and were thirsting for revenge. One Saturday night they went to Boston, and on their arrival got shaved in a West End barbershop.

“While paying their checks an idea struck one of the fellows, and after a short conference with his companions he offered the barber $10 for his red, white and blue pole, which stood about
twelve feet high in front of the door. The offer was accepted on the spot, and the young men took it away with them, insisting, however, on taking a receipt, in which both the pole and the amount paid was mentioned. Then they started off for a parade of the Third police precinct, in which nearly all their trouble with the ‘coppers’ had been experienced.

“They had not gone far before they were stopped by one of their old blue coated foes, who demanded an explanation of their possession of the pole. The boys replied that it belonged to them and that they were taking it home. The officer, believing that they bad stolen it, arrested the -whole party and took them to the police station, where he charged them with the theft.

“At this juncture one of the students produced the receipt, and they were allowed to depart, much to the discomfiture of the arresting officer. Then the boys went to another policeman’s beat, and were soon stopped by the guardian of that precinct, and, after a short parley, which proved very unsatisfactory to the officer, the students were again arrested, and, with the pole, were marched
back to the station house. This time they got their release from the lieutenant in charge without having to produce their receipt.

“The boys started off for another officer’s beat, taking care to keep within the same precinct, and within less than half an hour were brought back to the station for a third time on suspicion of having stolen that pole. The lieutenant had to send an officer over the precinct with these orders to all policemen: ‘If you meet a party of eight young men with a barber’s pole don’t arrest them. They own it.’ “


Click here for the original article.

Crazy college kids…they certainly went to a lot of trouble to pull off the stunt, didn’t they? How hard was it to carry around a 12-foot pole? By the way, the reason the barber accepted their offer on the spot: according to this inflation calculator, $10 in 1891 would be worth $263.16 today.

Unseemly Giveaway:

I still have audiobook retrieval codes and ebooks burning a hole in my pocket, as they say. So, if you want a freebie, simply comment on this post with three pieces of info:

  1. audio or ebook?
  2. which title? (books 1 or 2 for audio, books 1,2,3, or 4 for ebook)
  3. which format? (epub for Nook or iPad, mobi for Kindle)

Concordia series 1to4

I already have your email address if you are leaving a comment, so I would send the file or retrieval code to that address. I’ll be giving away up to 30 freebies.

What’s the best prank you’ve ever seen or been a part of? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,


4 people like this post.

6 thoughts on “Barber Pole Pranksters”

  1. PatriciaPatricia

    Oh good grief. That’s quite the story.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  2. Kassandra LambKassandra Lamb

    Truth is stranger than fiction! I like that story better than the one I made up.

    So do I get a prize? If so, I’ll take an audio book of Unseemly Pursuits. Thanks!! 😀

  3. Jenny HansenJenny Hansen

    This is awesome! I love the crazy creativity that comes with flash fiction. You do the coolest stuff over here….


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