Five-Year-Old Arrested for Getting His Kite Out of Tree

This is an odd story from the Washington Times. The paper reported on August 11th, 1908 the arrest of a young five-year-old. Yes, a little kid was arrested and it’s a bizarre story.

Gus and Nellie in the Washington Times - August 11th, 1908
Gus and Nellie in the Washington Times – August 11th, 1908

Not only was he taken in by the police, but they had to do so in front of the young boys dog. Poor Nellie.

Seated on his front porch, his arm around his pet dog, Nellie, who tried to guard him, little five-year-old Gus Oputz, who was arrested last night by Officer Clay, the giant policeman of the Fourth precinct, tried to decide this morning why he had been arrested. He said he had done nothing. The dog said nothing, but gazed with a savage intensity on each visitor, and made each visitor feel embarrassed by taking an unwholesome interest in his trousers.

According to the police, Gus was arrested for destroying private property. The extent of the depredation consisted of taking six lathes from a disused and disreputable shanty, and nailing them together tha he might get a kite that was caught in a tree.

The residents of the neighborhood in which Gus lives are intensely wrought up over his arrest, and are unanimous in their declaration that it was unjustified. Gus is not worried over the matter. In a calmly, judicial manner he insists that the officer is a “mean man,” and expresses the conservative opinion that he will come to no good end.

This afternoon the matter will be threshed out before Judge DeLacy at Juvenile Court.

Gus was arrested by policeman last evening as he was peacefully poking at his kite, which was lodged in the topmost branches of a tree. A large crowd, attracted by the unusual picture of a six-foot-and-a-half policeman arresting a five-year-old child, hooted at the unresponsive Clay.

At the station house the boy’s father agreed to be responsible for the lad’s appearance in court today.

This is such a weird story. Evidently, his criminal record did not impact his future that much since he successfully completed his World War I Draft Registration Card on September 12th, 1918. Of course, he would have been only 15 at the time, but I suspect he wanted to fulfill his patriotic duty to serve in the military and lied about his age.

Gus Oputz World War I Draft Registration Card
Gus Oputz World War I Draft Registration Card

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

Check Also

Washington, D.C., circa 1918. "World War I. Food Administration electric signs, 7th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue N.W." National Photo Co.

7th and Pennsylvania Lit Up During World War I

Check out this great old photo of 7th and Pennsylvania Ave. during World War I. …

  • Doc

    Hands up Don’t Shoot