San Francisco History

Jitterbuggy Craze

Police to Wipe Out 'Jitterbuggy' Craze

And now its' the 'jitterbuggy' craze.

High school jitterbugs are gas-bugs, now. The rhythmic "alligators" and "cats" are no longer interested in swinging in the groove; it's being first down the straightaway that intrigues them now.

A craze has developed, Acting Captain John J. Casey of the police traffic bureau revealed, whereby youngsters here organize impromptu auto races before and after school, streaking down the street, careening perilously around corners, and ignoring the right of way of pedestrians.

And yesterday he waved the checkered flag on juvenile drivers who make speedways out of school districts. Officers will be assigned to these neighborhoods, to crack down on speed-mad students. Failure to receive co-operation will result in cases being turned over to juvenile detention home authorities, Casey said.

The speed craze has assumed alarming proportions in Los Angeles, where youngsters have organized racing clubs, blocked off streets, and hit high speeds. Several deaths have resulted, and police there are taking drastic precautions to break up the clubs.

"As yet, there have been no accidents here," Casey declared. "The youngsters are good drivers, and fast thinkers. They like to show off, and from eight to ten of them will pile into one car for a race. And they're not giving pedestrians any consideration."

The young drivers, he pointed out, have driver's restricted licenses. These are signed by their parents and provide that only one designated auto can be driven by them, and only when accompanied by their parents.

Source: San Francisco Examiner, 01 June 1939, page 18.


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