Tuesday, April 5, 2011


This is one of my favorite photos out of my personal archives for a number of reasons;

Among them is the 1963 or '64 Plymouth squad car. I remember when nearly all police cars and taxi cabs were early 1960s Plymouth's and this particular model year has long been one of my favorites.

1963-64 was good for all three major American automakers in that all of them produced beautiful cars then. Replace that sheriff's star on the door with a Columbus police badge insignia and this car would look exactly like the patrol cars that roamed my neighborhood on the south side. Another reason I like this picture is because of the two uniformed officers shown in it who remind me of how I looked up to police officers and respected what they represented when I was an eleven-year-old kid around that time.

These two in particular fit the image I remember for a couple of reasons. They are neatly dressed older deputies whose expressions tell me they have seen a lot. By their uniforms I am guessing that both are supervisors which would suggest a few more things, one that they had been on the job for a number of years and secondly that this may have been a very serious train derailment. One that involved more than just cars leaving the tracks.

There is a sadness on their faces as if they know that something else has gone horribly wrong here, possibly lives lost. And because I think they are supervisors that makes sense to me because from my own experiences I know that it is rare to see two of them on the same scene at the same time unless the call concerns loss of life or some other great threat.

And finally, being an amature train buff I love the vintage railroad cars. A few of them appear to be passenger cars, something that has all but disappeared from the Franklin County landscape... they are reminders of an era when people relied on the railroad to move more than freight. A time in my own life when I would fall asleep at night listening to the horns blasting as trains crisscrossed nearby intersections and wondered about the people in them, thinking that one day I would like to work as an engineer when I grew up. Instead I grew up and became a deputy sheriff.

Having returned to my roots when I purchased the home I grew up in I still hear them, only now there aren't as many and none of them carry passengers any longer. Like most of the people who were adults when I was a boy these men are probably gone now and like many others whose steps I have followed through life they look like people I wish I could have known. If only to pick their brains and hear their stories, to know what they saw during their tenure on this planet.

Having been a cop for twenty years myself I know their tales would have been fascinating peeks into the history of our surroundings and a tremendous comparison to my own experiences in that uniform. They were cops in a time when bad people needed to fear what they were capable of more than now. Before laws were adopted that protect criminals more than they do victims.

When the people they locked up were held more accountable for their deeds in a place that sat out in the country called the Work House, not the Corrections Center. Where there was a farm there with cattle to look after and gardens to grow their own food and where they were taken out of the facility with chains around their ankles to do manual labor like roadwork or picking up trash along the highways. Reasons for some to think twice about breaking the law or to at least behave a little better once they paid their debt to society. If for no more reason than to never want to go back there.

When I was a young deputy the highlight of my work days was hearing the older officers talk about an era when there existed something they called street justice. As awful as it might sound to more liberal thinkers those older guys sometimes took matters into their own hands without fear of being sued or vilified for administering their method of justice to some who deserved what they received for committing heinous crimes. And pity anyone who committed any violent criminal offense against children when some of those old-timers got there hands on them.

To me the stories that were told of showing a bad guy the business end of a black jack on the street- to thumping one into submission in the jail for resisting what was expected of them during their stay there, to even spanking young thugs before taking them home for another wallop from their parents for bad deeds they committed against polite society were fond reminders of a time when we worried less about being crime victims.

Barbaric behavior by law enforcement officers to most people these days, but that was a time when hurting others for the pain and suffering they caused to innocent and weaker persons than themselves was somewhat acceptable to the tax payers who expected more from their protectors.

The men in this photo probably could have told some doozies, and the people who rode in those railroad cars and survived this crash could probably do likewise. Click on it to enlarge it.

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