“We Rob Banks”

In 1968 — a few months after the movie “Bonnie and Clyde” swept the nation — a few Staples seniors and friends thought it would be cool to imitate the legendary outlaws.

The high school campus was open; students came and went as they pleased during free periods (and sometimes during not-so-frees). It was spring; giddiness filled the air. Hey, why not?!

Five guys dressed up like ’20s gangsters. They drove downtown, sauntered into Westport Bank & Trust — now Patagonia — and, with a “getaway car” idling outside, pulled out a fake .38 pistol and said, “Stick ’em up!”

Ha ha!

A few customers scrambled for cover. The tellers didn’t know what to think, but eventually realized it was just a prank. Cops were called, and hauled the Gang of 5 across the street to the police station.

The Westport Town Crier covered the “let’s pretend” robbery jovially. They described the teenagers’ suits and fedoras in detail.

Times sure have changed. Banks — not to mention the ATF, FBI and NSA — don’t look kindly on fake stick-ups.

If this stunt happened today, a full-scale investigation would be held. School administrators and the Board of Education can’t have kids dressed as bank robbers leaving school in the middle of the day, then pretending to rob a bank.

And the Westport Police would certainly not allow 5 teenagers, dressed in fedoras and holding cigarettes, to pose jauntily in the station lobby, looking like they’ve just pulled off the heist of the century.

The Town Crier photo of (from left) Thomas Skinner, Stephen Ambrose, Michael Simonds, Frank Rawlinson and Anthony Dohanos. Anthony posted the photo on Facebook. He now lives in Hawaiii -- far from the scene of the "crime."

The Town Crier photo of (from left) Thomas Skinner, Stephen Ambrose, Michael Simonds, Frank Rawlinson and Anthony Dohanos. Anthony posted the photo on Facebook. He now lives in Hawaiii — far from the scene of the “crime.”




8 responses to ““We Rob Banks”

  1. Jim Goodrich

    Those time were more innocent….although fewer students smoke now.

  2. Is it true that in late 60s a few staples students closed building 7 or 9 for a protest one day with a shotgun?.. Per my 12th grade English teacher Mrs Cominsky at that time, the teachers just had classes outside instead, the police were never called. CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE had a different meaning back then it was the 60s.

  3. A. David Wunsch

    If this dumb prank were staged now, some trigger happy Westporter , packing heat, would have opened fire on these kids. A silly stunt would have turned tragic, and the gun nut would doubtless have gotten off.

    A. David Wunsch
    Staples High School, 1956

    • If this “dumb prank” were staged now, it would be a crime.

      “In 1988,Connecticut enacted a law prohibiting the sale, carrying or brandishing of real-looking toy guns or other products, such as cigarette lighters, made to look like firearms. The Class B misdemeanor is punishable by fines, not jail time.

      Connecticut and at least a dozen other states and cities enacted laws in the late 1980s in response to several highly publicized police shootings, some fatal, involving kids with toy guns. But the laws have had mixed success.”

  4. Claudia Ebeling

    The daily events of 1968 remain clearer in my memory than those of most years, but I had forgotten this! Yet again I think of LP Hartley’s opening line in The Go-Between. “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”
    Claudia Ebeling, Staples ’69

  5. I remember when they pulled this “Prank” …It sure was more fun living in Westport back in those days 🙂

  6. Judy Luster

    Lots of streaking incidents from the 70s. Some of the stories would have readers aching from the pain of laughter. Names might have to be omitted to protect those in “responsible” jobs.

  7. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    Do juvenile delinquents grow up to be senior delinquents? I don’t know and I don’t care. Kids today are so much better behaved than we were (is it because we raised them that way or they decided not to follow our example?).

    I remember when our beloved Princi “pal” Jim Calkins (who really was a fantastic man and educator, but hopelessly naive) said in an open assembly: “Staples students!!!! I trust you. No need to stay on campus if you don’t have a class. You’re on the honor system” (and the students were never heard nor seen again). Also, in close proximity I remember when beloved local resident Paul Newman took time off from a very demanding Hollywood career that was then at the height of its trajectory to address all of us SHS students at an assembly on the evils of drugs and was almost booed off the stage. “We are the champions no time for losers for we are the champions……of the world.” So when we say: “Leave Compo Beach alone” we’re as serious as a heart attack.