How we learn from the past to set our life in motion.
HOW we Learn from the past.
The heat is pounding on the old red bricks that keep this ole court house together. Here I’m over forty years from the time I rode around in the 1964 ford cop car and the new job I called home. Starting a carrier at 20 years old takes a profound knowledge of the people skills needed to fulfill the obligation needed.
The year was 1970, I was 20 years old and needing a better direction in my life. I had a GED from Florida and was trying to start a new life in a sleeping little town just north of Tampa, Florida in Dade City Pasco County, Florida. I had never met the Sheriff here but a friend of mine Sonny Dunn was an Auxiliary Deputy and had moved up a few years ago.
You have to remember things were a little different back then, for example there were no police academies standard training for Law Enforcement. Everything was word of mouth and trusts me it was their word and you kept your mouth shut. Law Enforcement was a service industry lived and worked by a hardy bunch of old crabby guys that had learned everything the hard way. I was given a shirt and one pair of pants, brass, and a badge. My first gun was a loaner from another deputy, a 44 magnum six shooter with a cowboy holster. I looked a little out of step from the others and rightfully so, I was 20 years old kid and most of deputies were in their 40’s already, old men.
Back then full time deputies were given a monthly allowance of $110.00 for a car payment, this was their patrol car. All the lights and radio, fuel and oil were furnished by the department. The deputies could drive the cars anytime and anywhere as they were in the family car. Most deputies purchased big block Fords, they were the hottest thing around then, a sleek plain Jane 4 door. On the night shift every deputy would take a rotation at the station house typing every message with code on the daily log keep in the office. This was a manual typewriter and the deputy also doubled as the jailer too. Breakfast was up to the best cooking and that was me, so we ate well on night shift.
I remember riding with a deputy, Willie Post one night he was kind of an ornery old cuss who carried a six in K38 Smith with Silver grips that come from Mexico, he kind of stud out in the crowd. Will and I were just dropping of a prisoner from Land O Lakes about 35 miles west of town. On the radio was a call for help from the town police, a fight in the park and two police officers down. Going code 3, lights and siren full blare and get out of the road fast. We arrive just in time to see one of the town fathers, an older Deputy named Bob Long they called him bullet. Bob also carried a six inch smith and wasn’t bashful about shooting you if needed. Lying on the ground were two young city cops and a young man just back from Viet Nam and full of piss and vinegar. Bob was standing there with his gun in hand waiting for the lad to disobey one time he would have been on the way to the hospital for sure.
I remember several times cases where the old deputies pulled guns on folks and they just dropped what they were doing and became puppy dogs. Of course that was a time when Deputies were old vets themselves and took no prisoners. The laws of the land were just being rewritten at this point to accommodate all the different and new situations with all the people coming in this part of the state.
I was with Willie one night over in land o Lakes when a stabbing accord at the orange house. That was a large wholesale orange picking building where the Mexicans and the Blacks gathered around to do their drinking, kind of a safe haven. When we arrived at the scene, as always in a hurry and sometimes at the wrong place, we got on the radio this time and called it in 1098 Pasco. There was no such thing as a backup; the closest Deputy was 40 to 50 miles in any direction. We had a pile of pickers standing out front of the old rickety building that stored ladders and carts. The ambulance was dragging as well; there wasn’t a thing such as EMS in those days. While the black folks were gathering in a crowd, Willie stood tall and asks for the guy with the knife to come out. With an old male lying on the ground bleeding and nobody taking credit for the cutting will was getting mad. Pasco, send me a school bus I have about 35 suspects here to load up. Within two minutes a strapping Black male stud in front of Willie and said “Mr. Willie I cut the son of a bitch and I’ll do it again” enough said. Willie cuffed up Mr. Personality and off to Dade City we go, trailing the Ambulance.
The sad part to all of this is that on one of my trips to Tampa, I was invited to a football game at Tampa stadium this was before the Bucks were there. In the crowd that I was with we did a powerful lot of drinking and I didn’t make it home that night. I drove an older Nova station wagon then and it didn’t know its way home yet like some of the cars I’ve had. Well I lost my first cop job, and still had a lot of growing to do yet before I was ready for prime time.
In 1974 I started in Hillsborough County at the main booking area, 1710 Tampa Street the Tampa Police department. I was the bull pen man there for over three years where I met my young slim little red head. I was warned not to bother her so she became my wife, Jane.