Chaos In Claremont: What Happened To Cause The Melee 36 Years Ago?
When you shine a light into the dark, you see things you may have not seen before, but you also get shadows that bounce around causing you to wonder what's really out in the dark. That's kind of where I am at after reading a May 18, 1985 AP report on what the AP dubbed a 125-person melee that happened in May of 1984 in Claremont.
An AP article from May 24, 1984, describes the scene as having individuals armed with "Chains, knives, hammers, wrenches, bottles, and baseball bats" that "were used in the fighting Saturday night, in which several people sustained minor injuries" The AP states that it took law enforcement "from three counties were summoned to quell the confrontation."
It all began with the "Suess gang" of Dodge Center driving through town yelling out "taunts and challenges" to Claremont residents. After taunting the town the "Seuss Gang" heading out of town only to return an hour later. When the gang of 20 returned, they were greeted by Claremont "armed" residents.
The 125 person melee then began.
A year afterward in May of 1985, the AP stated that "Tempers are still smoldering even though a year has passed since an old feud erupted into a bar-swinging, booze-fueled brawl between residents [of Claremont] and Dodge Center."
35 people were sentenced in connection to the brawl.
Even at the time of the event, no one was sure as to how the 'feud' started in or around 1980 from what residents told the AP.
The Dodge County Sheriff at the time, Ernest Vanderhyde told the AP, there was "No such thing as the Seuss Gang. And that "they've been fighting in Claremont for years, if they can't find anybody else to fight, they fight among themselves. They're a real feisty bunch."
A former Dodge County Sheriff, Harvey Howard, disagreed with that sentiment.
But what really happened to ignite these two towns? If you know I'd love to set the record straight.