A tendency toward a “lead foot” sometimes shows itself early in life.
When I was growing up in Springfield, Missouri, Officer Dan rented a room at our house from the time I was about five years old until we moved to Indiana when I was nine. He was divorced, didn’t have any children and didn’t have any other family in town, so he became sort of a member of our family during those years. Not that he spent alot of time with us, because he always worked the night patrol shift so he slept during the day, but whenever he was around, I thought he was wonderful.
I remember Mama let him take me for an ice cream cone in his police car one time and I decided I didn’t want all of my cone (apparently that was before my ice cream addiction fully kicked in!) but instead of telling Dan and letting him dispose of it, I just threw it out the open car window (no A/C back then!). But I was, you know … short, so when I threw it out I barely got it outside the window and it slid all the way down the side of his nice clean police car. I don’t remember him yelling at me, but I bet he said plenty mentally!
One time when I was in 1st or 2nd grade, a bad storm came up right before it was time for me to walk the 6 blocks home from school. Mama didn’t drive, so Dan offered to go pick me up.
This was right after the abduction and slaying of a little boy, Bobby Greenlease, had been in the national news. He had been abducted when someone went to his school saying they had been sent by his parents to get him, and the school let them take him. So schools all over the country were being much more careful about who they allowed to pick children up from school.
So, when Dan, in street clothes and probably looking kind of tough with the long scar across his cheek that he had received years earlier in a car accident, showed up at the school and said he was there to pick me up, the Principal was reluctant to turn a child over to this stranger. So, she decided that she would call me to the office and see if I recognized him. I walked into the office, looked surprised, and said, “Hi, Dan, what are you doing here!?” Good enough. She let me ride home with him.
When Daddy accepted a new job in Indiana, he left for the new job in October, leaving Mama and me behind so that Mama could sell the house and prepare for the move to Indiana in January.
When they heard we were leaving, the other renters who roomed with us immediately found other places and moved out. So, once Dan moved out, it would be just Mama and me in that big old, six bedroom house, until we moved to Indiana. But then Dan told Mama that he was sure he could find somewhere else to live whenever he needed to, so he offered to continue to room at our house until we moved. Mama was so relieved that we wouldn’t be there alone.
Dan also told Mama that he would drive by occasionally during the night while he was on patrol, to make sure everything was all right, further relieving Mama’s anxiety of being “on her own” for those few months.
Dan was a man of his word. He watched over us for those three months when my Daddy wasn’t there and then he moved the same week we did.
What a nice man Dan was, and he was my wonderful first experience knowing a policeman. I think he would be pleasantly surprised to know that I married one!