It was sometime around October of my senior year. My parents had taken off to some convention somewhere and left me and my younger siblings alone in the house for a week. Which, at 17, meant “One Big 7 Day Party.” My best friend, and a dozen of my closest friends, had pretty much moved in for the week. A house full of unsupervised teenagers, something the ultra-conservative neighborhood (SLC in 1977, EVERWHERE was ultra-conservative) must have just loved.
Not that we planned this, but they were in the process of building a couple of condominium buildings almost across the street from my house. Now, other than partying, what other things do teenagers, or did they in 1977, like to do? Well, explore unfinished buildings. And these had working elevators.
While we were partaking of our bootlegged bounty in the house, (let’s call them) J.T., Eric and some other unknown friend, decided to explore the high-rises. At about 10 at night. Well, they had done this a couple nights before, and came running in the front door, yelling “Cops, Cops”, and as we all just started peeing our pants, they started laughing. Yeah, funny joke.
Well, this evening JT comes running in the front door, screaming “Cops! Cops!”, and just like in the story about the kid who cried wolf, we didn’t believe him. Until he ran out the back door, jumped off the balcony and ran out into the field. Then I thought “Hmmm, maybe he is serious?”, went to the front window and looked out.
Flashing red and blue lights right in front of my house. Holy $%!%, he wasn’t kidding. That’s when I followed him, running through the house screaming “Cops! Cops!”, out the back door, off the balcony and into the field, with half the party in tow.
About a third of the way down the hill, I look over and there’s my older brother running right beside me. He looks at me, I look at him, and he says “That’s OUR house, we gotta go back and see what’s going on.”
(See, my parents had drilled some sense of responsibility into us.)
Damn, he’s right. So we head back up to the house, to find the half of the party that had remained being interrogated by 4 or 5 of Salt Lake City’s finest. Well, not all. One of SLC’s finest was sitting on the couch in the living room, drink in one hand, smoke in the other, talking to (we’ll call her) Tory, a female freshman friend of mine.
We walked into the kitchen to find a room full of kids, with the head cop pacing around, barking questions, like a modern day Napoleon grilling the troops on what went wrong at the last battle. Seems that two of the three that had been up at the condos had frozen right in their tracks, while JT ran for his life, leading the cops right to the party. Napoleon got his name from the other two, and damn well wanted to get his hands on that danged fugitive. He got everyone’s name, asking each one where JT was, getting the same response from them all: “He’s out in the field.”
When we walked in and he asked us, we told him who we were, and that it was our house. I don’t remember any specifics of the grilling, but he did write down my sister’s name when she came home in the middle of the mess, my 11 year old little brother’s name when he woke up to see what was going on and even my sister-in-law who showed up near the end to pick up my older brother. We half expected him to put his ear to her very pregnant stomach and demand to see the baby’s identification. They made us pour out all our alcohol, and then spent an hour walking through the field looking for JT, passing by but not stumbling onto a single one of the 15 or 20 friends that were hiding under sage brush and other such natural cover out there.
An hour or so later, they gave up looking, and left. No citations, no arrests. (aahh, the innocence of the 70’s). My little brother went back to bed, my little sister went to bed and my older brother and his wife went home.
Now, we all knew better than to raid my parent’s liquor cabinet, they never needed a lock on it because what restrictions they did put on us were to be taken seriously. But after this ordeal, we were glad that the cops hadn’t discovered it, and we carefully partook of what we thought we could get away with. (We didn’t – I had to pay the parents back, twofold). We had to do something to calm ourselves down as we waited for the absent party goers to take the chance the cops were gone and risk coming back in. And when they did, they needed something to warm them up, after all it was October, and although there wasn’t snow on the ground, I do remember it being cold out there.
It was about midnight when the cops left, and people started trickling in around 1:00. We heard stories about cops walking within feet of them and shining their spot lights on them from 20 feet away, and then going right past them. The very last person to return to the party was the fugitive from justice, JT. He showed up just past 4 in the morning, shivering like a soaked Golden Lab and was immediately wrapped up in a warm blanket and given something to warm his innards. He’d been hiding up a tree next to the Church at the end of the road, the cops had even shined their light up into the tree, but never noticed him.
This, of course, was the end to the visits to the unfinished condos.