Ah, the 1950s on the North Shore! The tranquil afternoon of the Eisenhower Era. Peace, prosperity and apple pie. Beaver Cleaver could have grown up here.
Then there was the day of infamy: September 14, 1957. The day of the Great Winnetka Riot.
At New Trier High School, they were playing a football game against Harrison High of Chicago. New Trier defeated the invaders, 46 to 20. When the game ended, one of the local kids snatched a football. School officials caught the culprit and held him in the gym for police.
Soon afterward, Officer Edward Jacobs arrived. He was inside the gym, dealing with the football theft, when a student barged in. It seemed a crowd was wrecking the officer's squad car.
Jacobs ran outside and found a bunch of students surrounding the squad. Some of them were trying to tip it over, while others were shoving firecrackers into the front grill. Jacobs pushed through the mob and got into the car. With students refusing to disperse and blocking the squad, he radioed for help.
A second squad appeared, then a third and a fourth. Meanwhile, over a thousand young people had gathered. A few began throwing firecrackers. One boy was arrested and put in a squad car. But the crowd charged through the police and rescued him.
Just up the lake from Winnetka is the army base at Fort Sheridan. Once upon a time, Chicago's moneyed elite had gotten the government to build the fort, so that troops would be handy in times of civil unrest. Local officials weren't ready for this step--at least, not yet.
So now the Fire Department was summoned. Like the cops, the firemen exercised restraint. They could have blasted the rampaging teens with their high-powered hoses. Instead they sprayed water into the air. The water dropped gently to earth like a soft rain. Thus dampened, the mob began to break up.
In the end, two New Trier students were arrested for disorderly conduct. Winnetka was peaceful once more.
The producers of Leave It To Beaver did not choose to base an episode on the incident.