A Fishy Story From The Pier
Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.
June 21, 1962, Vol. VII, No. 35
By Jane Kramer
Don't go near the water. Late at night. You'll be arrested.
It's against the law.
John Stanley went near the water last Friday night. He wanted some air. It's an old summer habit of his. He walked from his apartment to the open waterfront at the foot of Christopher Street, and then sat down on an old railroad tie for an hour or so.
"I'm a police officer," said a voice out of the dark, "and you're coming with me."
He had gone too near the water, and he spent the rest of the night in jail for it.
"I was so stunned," Stanley later told The Voice, "that I couldn't even begin to complain."
Stanley made the 23rd and last man picked up on the pier that night for "loitering" when a special patrol of four 6th Precinct detectives, combing the area since last week for the dinner-jacketed attacker of a 17-year-old Village girl, passed by.
With the mild Mr. Stanley under arrest -- "I had taken off my tie and maybe unbuttoned one button of my shirt, my office shirt, but you could hardly say I looked the Bowery type" -- the policemen piled their new prisoners into two waiting vans and drove them off to the Charles Street Station. Without a word.
"It was only natural, once the men were in, to question them about the rape," said the arresting detective, Matthew Cummings, attempting to dissociate last week's crime from this week's arrests. "Mainly, we saw these men violating the law, and it was our duty to bring them in."
..."Before letting us go -- he had dismissed the charges -- the judge said that we obviously had nothing better to do than loiter. He said that some of us were on the pier 'for obvious reasons.' "
"I suppose he told you he was out getting a breath of air," the lieutenant laughed, hanging up.
"I was only out getting a breath of air," Stanley told me on Monday, still bemused by the whole thing.
[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.