Times have changed, here in 'small town America,' just like everywhere else. About 4,000 people live in Sauk Centre today. About 90 are meth users live here, and gang graffiti has shown up in town ("Small town, big city problems" (Sauk Centre Herald (April 29, 2008)).
The 'good old days' had problems, too. A case in point:
Back around the period when my in-laws were growing up, kids brought firearms to school on a pretty regular basis. Hunting rifles. This is still a rural area, and back then quite a few kids liked to get a little hunting in on their way home.
It was during that time that some kids noticed a skunk in the school playground. They didn't want it around, for obvious reasons. Worse, it had gone to earth in a woodpile leaning against the school. It wouldn't budge, and the kids wouldn't rest until the the skunk was gone.
One of them ran home and returned with dynamite, fuse, and a detonator that the family used routinely to shift recalcitrant stumps and boulders.
The kid knew how to set a charge, and within minutes the skunk was gone. Along with the woodpile and most of the paint on that side of the school.
These days, Sauk Centre would have been in the national news, some of the kids in therapy, and legal wrangling in the courts for years afterward.
Back then, the kids weren't off the hook until they re-painted the wall. After that, life went on.