Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Christmas with Officer Dad
Christmas with Officer Dad
My dad was a Cowtown police officer for a few years when I was a baby. I don't remember it, just have the family photos to look back on. He made a dashing figure, don't you think? (The black and white panda bear on the sofa is ragged tagged, but lives up on the top shelf of my closet today. When new, he had a music box stuffed inside with a protruding key that wound up the little tinkling song.) Dad told me stories later, as an adult, about his friends on the force and some of the fun times he had wearing the badge. He left the force when I was six years old, said it was getting too dangerous and rough to be a city cop. This was 1960. His beat was on the near northside of town, and included parts of the Jacksboro Highway. Even now, this area of Cowtown is still pretty seedy. He never really elaborated exactly what incident drove him to seek a smalltown a few miles west in which to raise his children, but it had something to do with his partner being shot and nearly killed while answering a burglary call one night.
I do remember one funny incident he would laugh about often when he recalled his time as a policeman. He and his partner had pulled over a man in a big Cadillac on a routine traffic stop late one night. The man happened to be wanted for several robberies and forged checks, so he was handcuffed and put into the back seat of the patrol car. Dad's partner drove the patrol car, while dad was delegated to drive the Caddy to the impound lot. For some reason, I suppose the two officers did not do a thorough search of the car. During the course of the drive, dad could hear something moving in the backseat floorboard. A weird scratching noise, and the odd sound of a chain rattling would interrupt the silence occasionally. Scared, and just sure as shootin' there was an accomplice in the backseat, Dad mentally ticked off his options, nervous sweat pouring down his face on a cold winter night. Slowly he unholstered his gun, and eased off onto the shoulder. Slamming the car in park, he jumped out of the car; ducking down, he pointed his weapon into the rear window. The interior light had come on, due to the open driver's door. He shouted for the hidden passenger to come out of the car. No response. He kicked the door and ordered again. No response. Still holding the gun in readied grip, he quickly opened the back door. On the floorboard was a large suitcase, with several holes punched out on each side. Nothing else, no accomplice, nobody. Dad reaches for the suitcase, and this time he hears the scratching coming from within the beat up luggage. Gingerly, he opens the case, and almost before he could jump back out of reach, a strange raccoon-like little animal pops up, chattering fiercely and pissed off to no end. Sometimes called a "sugar bear", the Accomplice was actually a coati-mundi, and a semi-tamed pet.
Dad had his picture taken with it at the precinct, and the animal stayed there for a few days until he was donated to the local zoo. (The photo above is a random one I pulled off the internet for my readers' benefit.)