The Coast News Group


DEL MAR — While the school kids were planning their Halloween costumes, Joe Sage, the village constable, was busy preparing for that night and how he would deal with kids who would be knocking over trash cans and littering yards with toilet paper.
Sage wore a khaki uniform and had an official star denoting authority pinned to his chest. His squad car was a 1929 Ford sedan, equipped with a spotlight painted red. Mostly he sat in his car parked on 15th Street and Highway 101 and rarely — if ever — made an arrest.
No need to. Villagers were friendly and law-abiding folks. If an inebriated soul caused a ruckus at the La Tienda bar after dark, it was beyond Sage’s responsibility, which ended at sunset.
Except on Halloween night, of course. He patrolled all the streets and the commercial area.
The evening began with a party at the family home of Ruth Niemann, who was principal and teacher of the elementary school on 10th Street (now City Hall). The kids played pin the tail on the donkey, spin the bottle and everyone got a chance to bob for apples from a wash tub filled with water.
Kenneth Edwards on the hill also had a party that was well-attended primarily because Mary Jane was one of the popular cuties in school. During the game of post office, the boys hoped she would have a letter sealed with a kiss for them. Under the watchful eyes of her parents of course.
About that time, Constable Sage began patrolling. His presence was not too stealth. A noisy muffler and the fact it was difficult for him to shift gears (no automatic transmission during that era) gave the kids plenty of time to hide until he had passed. While he was on hillside patrol, kids were busy soaping store windows. The object was to return the next afternoon after school and offer to wash the soap off the windows for two-bits or whatever the traffic would bear. In reality, it was a win-win situation for both sides. The storekeeps got shiny, clean windows and the kids made enough money for a cheeseburger, French fries and an ice cream soda.