Friday, October 23, 2009


I have mentioned before that we ended up in Youngstown Ohio for my birth because my asthmatic mother could breathe there as opposed to Florida. My father had driven around the country trying to find a place where she would not suffer. Oddly, a dirty steel mill town with soot in the air so thick that one never considered wearing white, was where she drew untroubled breaths. Go figure.

None of us liked the area and we would move away when Mother got better. Unfortunately, moving back to her home state of Florida would re trigger the asthma and eventually, we would return to Murder Town USA as it was once called due to the high presence of the Mob. Later, in the 60's, the joke was that the barbers would would cut your hair for a buck fifty and start your car for a C-note ( also know as a hundred dollar bill). Car bombings were common.

We lived close enough to the steel mills in the 40's that we could see the stacks from our house. There was a railroad hub that serviced the mills and often my brothers and I would wonder down there to see all the strange sights we were unaccustomed to. Ugly and dirty yes, but an amusement park for young minds.

It was after a rain for we had fun stomping thought the puddles as we headed for the train tracks. All the different types of rail cars decorated the large freight yards. There were box cars, tankers, hoppers, and flat beds. All had brought something the mills needed and sat idly on spurs waiting to be unloaded. These all looked like the cars in my brothers train set, only huge.

We found a large pile of gravel and climbed to the top of it to survey the world. As my older brother amazed us with his knowledge of the trains, we tossed pebbles into the large puddle below us, watching the ripples spread.

When we heard the siren, we immediately thought something exciting must be happening and we eagerly watched the patrol car weave its way towards us. Surprisingly, it stopped right below our pile and two officers got out.

"Get down from there right now." the skinny one hollered.

Thinking nothing wrong, we slid down the pile bringing a hail of gravel with us.

They opened the patrol car doors and ordered us to get in. A bit stunned but being obedient kids who were taught to respect our elders, we did just that. We climbed into the back seat and the doors locked behind us.

"We got a phone call that you kids were dumping hopper cars. That is against the law and is not going to be tolerated." the skinny cop snarled.

Not my picture.

Ok, this is a hopper car. I was 5, Jim was 8 and Jack was 15. Had we all been linebackers, we could not have done as we were accused. While Jim and I were struck dumb, Jack got his teenage hackles up and tried to explain what we had been doing and that we could not have possibly dumped the hopper car.

This ticked off the skinny cop. "Some one has been listening to Gang Busters. That is enough out of you smart aleck."

Those of you still spry may need to know that Gang Busters was a crime radio show popular at the time. Remember this was pre TV. I was really hoping Jack would shut up and he did.

The heavy set cop turned to his partner and said, "Lets take them to the station and see what they want to do with them." With that, they drove off with us in the back seat scared silly.

It got really quiet as we drove. I could vividly see in my mind a tiny, windowless cell with a slot for food to be shoved through. I was never going to see my parents or anyone ever again. When that thought hit, so did the tears.

The heavy set cop who had the better attitude turned in his seat to see what the snuffling was.

"What's the matter little one?" he said almost kindly.

Not wanting to admit I was scared, I instead lied and said."I have an earache."

Where that came from I don't know. I had never had an earache, I had never known any one who had one. If I had said that I had a hernia it would have made as much sense. Told you, I am not a good liar.

Their whole intent was to just scare the bejeebies out of us but they got a little nervous thinking I might actually be sick. They looked at each other and with a mutual nod, told us they were taking us home to talk with our parents. This was such a relief for we knew we had done nothing wrong and surely our parents would understand. The important thing was that I was not going to jail. My "earache" cleared right up.

What my parents did not understand however was having a patrol car pull up in the drive, letting their kids out and then having to take an arm waving scolding from the officers on their parenting skills. This was with every neighbor on the block glues to their windows. My parents were so embarrassed.

We did get punished, not for the alleged crime for that was ridiculous, but for going to the freight yard in the first place. My brothers actually enjoyed the notoriety we received as it made them almost heroic in the neighborhood but I was scarred for many years. I grew up with an intense fear of the police.

That fear made me have to take my drivers license test three times for the driving examiners in those days were always in police uniform. I would shake uncontrollably and persistently knocked all the cones down during parallel parking exercise. Third time I tried, my arm was in a sling from a sprain so the officer blamed my slamming of cones on the one armed effort and passed me. I got a "pity license" which I was happy to take.

The only way I got over that fear was when I dated a cop much later in life and realized they really were human beings, often kind of cute, who had no desire to lock me up, at least not in jail. But that is for another day.

Have you ever strayed to the wrong side of the law? Don't admit to anything here unless that statute of limitations is up.


  1. That smoke and soot is the way it was at home. Most people there burned coal if they could afford it and coal makes black soot that ruins fresh snow we would use to make snow ice cream.

  2. That's a very interesting post. Yes, I have strayed, and ooops! I was a probation officer for twenty plus years! Very vividly written, and my, what a good memory. I look forward to more...

  3. I really enjoyed your story, it's funny how events at an early age can stick with us for years.
    I got a parking ticket about 40 years ago, I think that's about the extent of my lawlessness!
    Sunny :)

  4. Hmmmm.. Statute of limitations may not be up and I am still in public office. I don't think I am guilty of anything considered a felony.

    I sneaked alcohol and legal drugs over the Texas border for friends in my university years. May drugs which were available only on prescription in US were lined up like aspirin in Mexico, then.

    A lot of friends like to cross the border for a weeking of sightseeing, nightclubs, bullfights, etc.

    I know I've broken most speeding laws, and missed the toll bucket crossing the Mississippi Riv many years ago. The change scattered all over the pavement and I drove off the sirens blaring. My short arms simply could not dunk the change--no basketball ability in me.

    Don't mu asthma would allow me to live in FL or OH.

  5. Cute story Patti! I n trying to think if I've ever crossed the law, I realize what a boring life I've had in that respect! Nope! :)

  6. What a great story, Patti. I did stray once, when I was 15. I got caught shoplifting a shirt for my boyfriend. I had quite an interesting conversation with the store detective, who after a while decided he wouldn't call the police or my parents. When he let me go, he said, "Keep fighting, Tiger." I'll never forget it. I never shoplifted again.

  7. ha! love your wild stories but this may be fav. I have got to get my big sister on this blog land cause you two could really tell some stories.

    I grew up in the 70's and often police were in general very scary. Once we had 5 police cars surround us as we got in the car after buying a pipe in a head shop. I thought for sure we were gonna go to prison. But they were looking for some real drug dealers but we 'bout wet our pants!

  8. Oh what a reminded me of Ron White...'They Call Me Tater Salad!'

  9. Cute story....I don't think I've ever strayed as my family was full of cops. My older brother got on the force when I was 8 years old so I knew all them. I also married a cop! I didn't stray because I knew with certainty I'd get caught!

  10. Abe,
    I too remember grey snow. Didn't know it was supposed to be white till we moved to the country.

    Thanks. I guess with your job you saw lots of strayers. You aren't going to tell us what you did are you?

    Parking ticket won't get you into the club. Such a good girl you were.

    Ah ha, a smuggler in out midst. I do believe people are still doing that. As a former toll collector, I am turning you in :)

    Ah, another pure soul. You and Sunny need to your own club.

    Thanks. I would love to know what that conversation was about.Must have been good to earn that parting comment. Think you will ever post that one? I'll be watching.

    Sounds like you were one of those that always got caught. Thoughts of prison really are scary, huh.

    4th Sister
    Ron White is a funny guy. He was always rubbing against the law if I remember right.

    Your family didn't give you a chance to walk on the wild side. Of course you could have gone the way of the preacher's daughter and rebelled big time. Glad you didn't.

  11. Patti-- I wrote about my shoplifting experience once, when responding to a meme request. You can read about it here.

  12. No, I can honestly say I never got caught at anything.....LOL

    Loved your story!

  13. robin,
    Thank you so much for the link. That is the best meme EVER. You really were born with some kind of backbone. You actually gave Bozo the finger? Way to go.
    Little robin was a spunky little girl to read about and makes the person you are today easier to understand.
    That post should be brought out of archives for those like me who hadn't seen it. Excellent post.

    Ha ha, I just love that answer. Somehow I knew you would be the one to get away with stuff. You just have that innocent look. I was the one always caught, even when I didn't do anything.

  14. What a scary thing to do to young children--especialy a young girl. One wonders if those policemen really thought you all could possibly have done what they thought you had done....And I can understand you being traumatized for a very long time by an incident like that. I'm glad you met a policeman who changed your feelings about guys in!

  15. Don't admit to anything here unless that statute of limitations is up - that's a good one it gave me a smile, then I quickly looked over my shoulder.
    Very interesting about your mother.
    For a five year old, that would be pretty truamatic.

  16. OOLOH
    I guess the good thing from that experience was that it kept me on the right side of the law for many years.

    Was there anyone behind you??
    That reminds me of the old Satchel Page quote. "Don't look back, something might be gaining on you."

  17. Great post…it is no wonder you were scared of cops after that! When I was 4 years old, a group of older kids bullied me into stealing gum for them. The store owner caught me and threatened to call the police if I ever came back. Happily my life of crime ended and it taught me to trust my own judgment regardless of peer pressure.

  18. Interesting and lovely post !! This article is worth reading !! Thanks for sharing..Unseen Rajasthan

  19. I liked the post. Amazing how we kids would entertain ourselves without TV. We lived close to a coal yard. In the winter we loved to go over and climb on the likes of coal laying around, while they were covered with snow. We would pretend we were climbing mountains. Mom could never understand why our boots always looked so dirty for playing in the backyard. LOL Yes, Gangbusters. Right up there with The Shadow Knows, and a lot of other programs that we loved to sit in the dark and listen to by the little light of the radio. And I use to think, wouldn't it be wonderful to see these people on that little dial that was all lit up. Happy Week-end.

  20. Jewels,
    Boy you were an itty bitty criminal weren't you? Your life of crime started even younger than mine.
    Glad you got caught, no telling how you would have ended up. :)

    Thank you so much for your great comment.

    "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows.... Heh-heh-heh-"
    I loved that show. Did you ever try to "cloud men's minds" to become invisible? I am afraid I wasted a lot of brain power on that one. Radio drama let the imagination grow, kind of a shame it is gone.

  21. You blew me away with all of the details. You are a very talented story teller. Great post...m..

  22. Mary
    Thank you so much for stopping by and for your kind comments. When something tramatizes you, you do remember it vividly.
    I tried to link back to your blog but was blocked.

  23. limitations is up .. but,, let's keep the secret!! lol!!

  24. Who me? The wrong side of the law? No way. I'm pure as the driven snow, I am.

  25. Anon,
    You bet, lips are sealed and mums the word. He he .

    Me too--ah maybe. That's our story and we are sticking to it.

  26. Cute story.. Naughty kids huh?!!
    I haven't any busts with the cops yet.. fingers crossed. But the best part was - You got over your fear of cops after dating one. I'd like to hear that story certainly!

  27. lostworld,
    So glad you have stayed on the right side of the law. Much easier that way isn't it?
    I will post later about my cop boyfriend.
    Thanks so much