In Haverford, young lemonade peddlers have brush with the law

The call came in at 7:06 p.m. Juveniles, seven of them, on a quiet residential street, selling an uncontrolled substance: lemonade.

A neighbor had dimed them out, and a Haverford Township police officer responded in a hurry.

When he arrived at the two-story brick house on Maryland Avenue, he dutifully informed Dana Kleinschmidt, mother of four of the reputed offenders, who included 5-year-old triplets, that they were violating the law. They were selling lemonade without a permit.

Kleinschmidt was nonplussed. She told the children to cease and desist, but the law was news to her - and evidently to the rest of the township's police department.

"We all sold lemonade when we were kids," said John F. Viola, the deputy chief of police. "We all went, like, who calls [police] on kids?"

As it turns out, according to Viola, the officer's visit was a misunderstanding that finally was left to Sgt. Joe Hagan to straighten out.

For 12 years, Hagan acknowledged, he has patrolled the streets of Haverford buying lemonade, paying the kids a buck and surreptitiously not drinking it. It never occurred to him that he was aiding and abetting law-breakers.

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