Monday, November 30, 2009

A Look Back

I found this picture at my parents house. It is my dad and late uncle taken around 1977. My dad was a small town officer and my uncle was a deputy sheriff in Louisiana. I look at this picture and see it as a window into the past. Times were different back then and so was law enforcement. Granted police got away with more stunts then we do now and it's these guys who are now teaching us younguns to someday teach the new generation (if they bother to listen). The pay back then was abysmal to say the least. Yet these guys didn't do it for the pay. They did it because they wanted to. They wanted to make a difference and were thus exposed to a world and a lifestyle that is embellished in TV. I miss my uncle, he was character. I would listen to his war stories and being a Louisiana officer everything was 'this coon ass or that coon ass!' I remember he would tell me of a beer joint in rural Louisiana that they got called out to every weekend. Since it was the 70s, and it was frequented by black people there was naturally a tension between the deputies and the officers. The officers went in about half dozen and took advantage of the L shaped design. They would put their backs to the wall and slide their way to the stage. All the while they heard metallic clicking noises as people would walk out the door. By the time they reached the end of the bar, the floor was littered with knives and small handguns. My uncle had a strong sense of ethics as well. He relayed a story of a Vietnamese family that was stopped and their car searched. This was a rural Louisiana town. They searched the car and found a large amount of cash, but no contraband. They searched that car for over an hour. The chief was contacted who told his officers to arrest the driver, seize the money and bring the car to their impound lot where it was searched again. Within minutes drugs were allegedly found in the car. Anyone else see a problem with this scenario? Needless to say that chief and some officers wound up in hot water themselves. Cancer took my uncle about 8 years ago. He had been sick for some time. I was working night shift at the time and was asleep until I woke too early to find a message on my cell phone. It was my mom telling me to call her as soon as I could. I then knew. He had died. The funeral was scheduled for the day after the next. I had to go to work that night to get leave for the funeral. The night Lieutenant offered to let me have off that night but I declined. Why would I want to go to an empty house and just think. No, I needed to work for the distraction. About an hour later I was following a truck that was speeding, and weaving. I pulled him over. The driver is a middle class looking white guy and the passenger is an older Hispanic woman who spoke little English. He said he was giving a friend a ride but couldn't tell me her name. Oh yeah, somethings up. I suspected she was a hooker and he was a john but he'll never admit to it. Besides, I smell alcohol on his breath. I took him out and did the sobriety tests and wound up arresting him for DWI. I can't remember if he took the intoxylizer test or not. I do remember driving him to jail thinking "this one's for you uncle!"

My dad also has a strong sense of ethics. I credit him for instilling that in me. He hasn't shared that many war stories with me. I can certainly testify to two funny accidental discharges. One with a shotgun and the other with H&K 9mm. I do remember a story he told me of a civil standby he was called to. A man was taking his things out of the house after stabbing his girlfriend (not fatally). The woman's son was there and chatting with my dad. The man's demeanor suddenly changed when his mother's assailant walked out of the house. The man quit talking and responding to my dad and focused only on the other fellow. Without warning the man draws a pistol and shoots the guy right in front of my dad. My dad had his pistol jammed
into the man's face. The shooter then surrendered.

I doubt my dad will ever chronicle his experiences over the last 30 years. Sadly my uncle never did and all of his experiences only live on to a few people that were there or he told. Thirty years of experience that will eventually be lost to time. That's why we should blog.

1 comment:

Ann T. said...

Dear Tenderfoot,
It really is why you should blog. I do historical research sometimes, and what is lost is what "everybody knew how to do" or what "everybody understood." It was so automatic nobody every wrote it down.

Plus, you're right. The stories are also part of history. And they always get lost too.

Ann T.