Joseph Augostine, "Dis Conduct", 15 Feb 1943

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Joseph Augostine, a house painter, was arrested for disorderly conduct in February 1943, one week before Chief of Police Willis McMullen announced that New Castle would no longer tolerate such behaviour and ordered city policemen to clear all undesirables from the streets. McMullen told the press, “With the good boys of the community fighting for their lives, others sweating in vital industrial concerns to furnish war material and their elders engaged in various war activities, I see no reason for hoodlums, loiterers, slackers or prostitutes.”

The night before he made his statement, McMullen had seen a drunk dressed as a sailor standing on the corner of Croton avenue and East Washington street and challenging passers-by to a fight. McMullen arrested the man, and was appalled to discover that he had been deferred from service due to a physical ailment and had no right to wear any military uniform. “Police will visit cafes or any other place where they may suspect there are hoodlums, loafers, prostitutes or a person they have reason to believe has not complied with the selective service law. The loiterers and non-producers will be asked to explain how they earn a livelihood,” he said.

The chief pointed out that as many as five hundred workers slept in one central business section of the city and that loud juke boxes and disorderly conduct could not be permitted. “Workers need their rest,” he said. “Night carousing on the streets is out for the duration.”

On the day of Joseph’s arrest, Mrs Frank Mastren, of Dushane street, heard that her brother, Edwin Isaac, an aeroplane gunner fighting in North Africa, had been seriously wounded during a raid. The month before, he had made the front page of the New Castle News under the headline, “New Castle Gunner Downs Axis Plane In Tunisia Battle”. Everyone had been very proud. A war telegram was also received by Mr and Mrs John Dout, of Etna street, which informed them that their nineteen-year-old son, Morris, had been killed by an accidental shell explosion at his training camp in North Carolina. It had been only two months since he’d left his job at Shenango Pottery to enlist. Such stories were already so common that each merited only a short paragraph in the paper.

Following a night in the cells, Joseph received a fine of $10 and was released.

Joseph’s three older brothers were already in uniform and would go on to fight in Sicily, Anzio and Normandy—from where one of them, Edward, would send home packages containing German helmets and other items taken from the bodies of dead soldiers—but Joseph avoided the draft for so long that the war was virtually over by the time he completed basic training.

After the war, Joseph worked as a gardener and groundskeeper for a while before opening a garage in Hillsville, where he ran a few illegal slot machines as a sideline. He died in August 1992, at the age of eighty-two.

Sources: New Castle News (23 Feb 1943,“Police Chief Orders Cleanup Of City”;16 Nov 1944, “Sgt Augostine Sends Souvenirs”; 29 Dec 1944, “Raymond Augostine Is Home From Overseas”; Feb 15 1946 “New Castle Gunner Downs Axis Plane In Tunisia Battle”, “Edwin R Isaac Wounded In Raid”, “Injuries Fatal To Local Marine”; 4 Oct 1956 “Allow DA To Wreck Gambling Machines”).

2 Comments

  1. Mary says

    The New Castle News didn’t cover the arrest of Joseph Augostine, a painter, on a charge of disorderly conduct on February 15, 1943. Its very dramatic the way you put this all together. This is real fiction.

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