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Story ID:1440
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Middleburgh New York USA
Person:The local Priest
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By Fred Wickert

In the summer of 1975 I was a police officer in the village of Middleburgh, New York. Several times in late afternoon or early evening, I received calls from the dispatcher stating a complaint had been received that there were kids playing on the bowling alley roof. I responded to this message several times over a period of two weeks, never to find any kids anywhere near the bowling alley, let alone on the roof.

About 4:30 P.M. one bright and sunny afternoon, I had some business to tend to at Bush Lumber Company. Bush Lumber was located directly across the street from the bowling alley. I had completed my business at the lumber company and was returning to the patrol car. As I approached the car I heard my car being called on the radio. I responded to the call. The dispatcher said, I have a complaint called in that there are several kids playing on the bowling alley roof.

I responded that I was standing right across the street from the bowling alley and could see a clear view of the roof on both sides. There was no one on the roof and no one visible near the building at all on the outside of it. I inquired as to who had made the call? The reply came back that the call was from the Catholic Priest.

The rectory, home of the Catholic Priest was right next door to the bowling alley, but the front of the rectory faced the next street over. The upstairs windows of the rectory afforded an excellent view of the bowling alley roof. I assumed there must have been some one on the roof and that the time involved in calling the police, the dispatcher calling me on the radio had been enough time for them to get off the roof.

I asked men working at the lumber yard and customers coming and going from the lumber yard if they had seen any one on the roof across the street, and if they had seen any kids around the area. Always the answer was in the negative. I knocked on the doors of other places close to the vicinity and inquired. No one had seen a thing.

I inquired from the dispatcher if the previous calls they had received over the past couple of weeks were from the same complainant or different ones. The reply was that they had all come from the Priest.

The next day, when picking up the police department mail from the Village Clerk, I mentioned it, and said it was difficult to believe the Catholic Priest could be making prank calls, but that I had never been able to find anyone.

Janet, the Clerk began to laugh. “Don’t you know?”

“Know what?” I asked.

“The Priest. He drinks. A lot.”


“Oh yes. His name is Father Shanley, but everybody calls him Father Schenley’s behind his back because of his drinking problem. I’m surprised you didn’t know,” Janet giggled.

I decided to do nothing right away. I knew I could not allow these bogus calls to continue, but at the same time I was reluctant to bring charges against a priest for filing a false report. At the time of the last incident, the door of the rectory was one of those I knocked on while conducting my investigation, but the door was not answered.

The matter was soon taken out of my hands. A week and a half later, the Priest fell over the podium at the Sunday morning mass in a state of inebriation. It was the talk of the town. The information somehow reached the diocese and Bishop Hubbard transferred the Priest out immediately. A new Priest conducted the services the following Sunday and the congregation was informed that the Priest had to leave suddenly for medical care and was not going to be returning.

I had heard of Pink Elephants, but this was the first time I had heard of Kids on the Bowling Alley roof.