The Dark Knights
1967 was a noted year of rebellion amongst Lamorinda teens, but really, what year isn’t? Usual troubles regarded boys growing their hair long and girls requesting later curfews. In most respects, there are not many differences between teens of the 60s and teens today.
Common high school and college misdemeanors included (and still include) vandalizing property, stealing 38 loaves of bread from the local market (an actual 1967 incident), and drinking alcohol underage for no other reason than boredom. Drugs such as LSD and Marijuana trickled in from the Berkeley and Oakland area, attracting youth to further rebel due to the lack of wholesome activities in which to partake. Apparently, one Friday night dance was enough.
Teens in the surrounding area banded together and created an article in the local newspaper called “Teen Think.” The article was in efforts to communicate anonymously with parents. Their hope was to solve the ever-lasting misunderstanding between adults and youths. Alongside the usual uprisings in young persons, a particular group of high school boys became notorious in the Lamorinda area.
The Knights were known to somewhat “terrorize” their local towns. Just like the black-jacket greasers in “Grease” starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, The Knights were infamous for causing a ruckus in the local pizza joint and bravely picking fights with Saint Mary’s College students.
A comical instance includes a poor Saint Mary’s freshman boy who saw The Knights at the local pizza joint. He joined in on their rally and sadly “thought he was a part of the gang.” Boy, was he wrong. And anyway, what college student wants to fraternize with high-schoolers? That was so last year.
To this day the names of participants in The Knights remain unknown. Even their origin is uncertain. They may have begun at Campolindo or Acalanes, though Miramonte is the most suspected. While the gang’s participants were unknown to authority figures in 1967, students in neighboring high schools most likely knew at least one member of the group.
During the summer of 1967 The Knights seemed to have disappeared. School was no longer in session and there weren’t any college students around to heckle. During these warm months The Knights had become a club as opposed to a gang. Sponsored by the Orinda Lions Club, the same name was enforced to dissuade recklessness and encourage wholesome behavior. Seriously though, what gang wants to be associated with a sensible club?
Efforts were in vain. Come September 1st of the new school year, the local pharmacy and neighboring Wells Fargo bank were vandalized. “Orinda, Home of The Knights” in large black lettering covered the buildings. The Knights had not completely diminished. Vandalism throughout the area continued less than a week later and the culprits were never discovered. Could it have been the group of boys acting out? We may never know.
The Lafayette Youth Center (LYC), a simple idea created shortly after The Knights began, posted jobs for teens in order to keep them out of trouble. The Knights remained quiet, staying under wraps. Nonetheless, just three months later, they struck again. Two Saint Mary’s students had been beaten up on December 1st.
The LYC had a launching just two weeks later, officiating itself with hope to end all the reckless behavior. Whether or not The Knights decided it was time to retire or continued to lay low, they were not mentioned in the Lafayette Sun for the remainder of 1967, as far as records show.