Cops and robbers in Madison, 1920

Two boys play cops and robbers in Madison in 1920, pointing their toy weapons at the camera.

This State Journal editorial ran on Aug. 25, 1919:

Probably it is not the flower of Madison’s youth that is destroying flower gardens about the city. We dislike to scold young people for escapades that are born of exuberant spirits, even when at times they become inconsiderate.

But the present reaction to lawlessness is too wanton to be considered merely an excess of animal vigor. It is pure vandalism. It suggests want of both breeding and training. It is entirely lacking in the sportsmanship for which the American boy is admired.

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Flowers are symbolic of life in its purest aspects. Chaste youth is drawn to them to caress, but never to destroy.

Something is so radically wrong about young people who make a sport of wrecking flower gardens that one cannot avoid misgivings as to the careers they may make. Should the perpetrators of these midnight outrages come to realize that detection means arraignment in court, with full publicity for their contemptible conduct, the outlook may deter them from further tempting an experience the disgrace of which would not soon relinquish its hold upon their names.

One hopes that, if not shame, fear may induce them to abandon a malicious practice repugnant to every sense of decency and manhood.

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