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50 years ago: Bootleg whiskey-making operation in Abingdon broken up

As taken from the pages of The Aegis dated Thursday, March 29, 1962:

Twenty-one hundred gallons of mash, dozens of empty 100-pound sugar bags and an undisclosed amount of moonshine whiskey were confiscated by officials in a raid on a farm near Abingdon. The still, in a one-story, 30-by-20 foot cinder block house adjoining the main house, was one of the largest ever found in Maryland. Most of the bootleg whiskey was being manufactured in Harford County but was being sold in Baltimore County. A sign over the door inside the building said "It's party time!" Three people who lived on the farm were arrested and charged with the distribution of the whiskey.

The "Cross Bones Gang" was broken up by local police authorities. The gang, a band of boys between the ages of 12 and 15, had been involved in a wave of burglaries and property damage in the area. The gang was extremely well organized, according to authorities. Uncovered during the arrests were detailed record-keeping, which listed the members of the organization, lists of burglaries and maps of possible future crime locations. More than 10 schools and places of businesses had been burglarized by the group. Four of the boys were committed to the Maryland Training School for Boys and two were placed on probation. Nine more youths would also have to face juvenile court to find out their fates.

A truck crashed through the guardrails and plunged off the northern end of the Conowingo Dam. The driver of the truck was thrown out of the vehicle onto the road. He sustained fractured ribs, a broken left leg and lacerations of the head and body. His passenger died instantly when the truck plunged 55 feet straight down into a rock pile. He was pronounced dead at the scene. It took three tow trucks to bring the demolished truck back up the embankment. It was thought the driver fell asleep at the wheel.

Five Freedom Riders, who failed to appear for court, were forced to spend an afternoon in the Harford County Jail. They were released the same night after they each posted a bond of $140. The riders were initially charged with trespassing following a sit-in demonstration at the Aberdeen Diner in December 1961.

A small group of four student hikers passed through Harford County on their way to the White House. Their trek began in Times Square in support of President Kennedy's physical fitness program. The group's 250-mile walk was only halted once when the Maryland State Police insisted that they ride not walk over the Susquehanna River Bridge at Havre de Grace.

A local dentist, Dr. James Stephenson Hopkins, who had practiced in Bel Air since 1905, was awarded the distinguished alumnus award at the convention of the Alumni Association of the Dental School of the University of Maryland. Dr. Hopkins, born March 20, 1884, graduated from Deichmann College Preparatory School in Baltimore in 1902. He graduated from dental school in 1905 and began his practice in Bel Air the same year.

A new addition was approved to add space to the St. Margaret's School in Bel Air. The new brick building would be behind the rectory and would provide eight classrooms, a large all-purpose hall and an administrative wing. The hall, which would seat up to 600 people, would be used for meetings, dinners, athletic events and some Sunday Masses. The estimated cost of the new building was $333,000 and the job was expected to be completed in September.

A few local stores announced that they would have later evening hours. Eleven different stores would be open Thursday and Friday nights until 9 p.m. and they would close at 6 p.m. on Saturdays. The stores participating in the later openings included: Beshore's, Getz Jewelers, Ideal Market, John's Shoe Repair, Chas. D. Johnson & Son, The Kiddie Shop, Lana Lobell, Miller Appliances, Preston's Stationery Store, Western Auto and The Winell Shoppe.

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