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  • But they sure were better than what we have now.

    I was born in the 50's, and I can remember how much simpler life was for teenagers or pre-teens then, compared to today. One of my first girlfriends had a collection of Velveteen Rabbit memorabilia, and recordings of Peter Paul and Mary, her favorite being "Going to the Zoo". We got into trouble a lot together, but trouble back then was more innocent. It didn't involve drugs, drive-bys, gangs, bully induced suicides, self mutilation, or any of the problems of today. The police had a sense of humor then too. When we got caught doing something stupid, they'd give us a ride home to our parents instead of jail, laughing at us and with us all the way.

    Then came Vietnam, Kent state, hippie movements, and the change of attitude among my peers, as well as the police. Cops began treating everybody as a possible threat to themselves and society, even if pulled over for simply not using a turn signal. There were some malcontents out there that thought the way to make social change was violence, but most of us wanted things to stay simpler, and more friendly. We werent all threats.

    I started taking photos when I was eleven, and when I got into college, I took courses in photography. I always carried my camera; a Nikon 35mm, and a good supply of film cartridges with me wherever I went. The film was included in the fees for the courses, to encourage us to take pictures freely and learn from our mistakes. The canisters, and my film came under suspicion in a brush I had with a police officer with the 'new' approach toward the general public, which were then (early 70's) referred to by them as 'civilians', and all were suspects. Guilty of something untill proven innocent.

    I had spent most of a winter night in a local Sambo's restaurant doing my required course's homework. When I went out to my mom's car (which I borrowed), the windows had a thick layer of frost on them. There wasn't anything in mom's car to scrape the windows with, and the frost was too thick anyway, so I started the car, and sat right there, listening to the radio and waiting for the windows to thaw out. I could have gone back in the restaurant and had another cup while I waited, but I was broke, which was why I borrowed mom's car to begin with, and it was actually illegal at the time to leave a car running unattended anyway.

    Windows thawed, I put the car in drive, and started home. Less than a block later, I was pulled over by two cop cars, and they blocked me in at the curb, one in front of me, and one in back. Guns were drawn, and one officer ordered me out of the car to stand with my hands on the hood. He thoroughly searched my person, while another searched my mom's car. They took my camera, and my film, and layed them in front of me on the hood, in the snow. The one that frisked me asked me what was in the containers, now that he was sure I wasn't carrying any guns, or drugs, and I asked what I was being stopped for. For this question, I got pushed into the hood and told I wasn't allowed to ask any questions. The officer proceeded then to open my camera, and all of my film containers, exposing all my film.

    Another officer then got out of his car, and came over to where I was being detained, and hush-hushed with the frisking bugger (by then I felt much less like referring to them with any respect). He then allowed me to stand unrestrained, and explained to me (more excuse than explaination), that I had taken too much time sitting idling my car in front of the restaurant, and that 'looked suspicious'.

    As he was straightening out my film and camera to hand back to me, I old him that I was a student photographer, and that I was paying for my education with photographs that were on the film that he had destroyed. I said I want to file a complaint, and I wanted recompense for my photos. I knew they had run my ID, and found no records, no citations, not even parking tickets, and they knew they were in the wrong here. These idiots pooled the contents of their wallets and handed me over $400.00; to forget about making any reports.

    Had they not been complete idiots, or as observant and vigilant as they thought they were being in pulling me over for thawing my windows, they would have also noticed the film canisters were unexposed, and only worth tens of dollars total (not to mention they were free supply to me) .

    I had many occasions, after this encounter, where I crossed paths with this officer again, and he was much more polite toward me. Eventually, we even became friends, and in time I came to return him the money they had given me for my silence. Along with the return, I told him about the film not being exposed, and of little cost to me. He got a good laugh at himself, but on many other occasions yet, I observed him treating other 'civilians' that were unfamiliar to him the same as he had treated me that winter night. He hasn't reached retirement age yet, and I'm sure he hasn't changed his attitude toward 'civilians' (in all honesty, the term they used was 'pukes').

    I would have prefered being taken home, and being laughed at. I would also prefer a return to those simpler times.

    In memory of those days, I took this 50's stock photo of a crime scene, and made a rankorous cartoon of it. I wonder if any of today's cops would find the humor in it.
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