My sister responded to a post my niece made on her blog to the effect that she (my sister) had a fairly low opinion of Chicago. Or maybe Chicago police; the reference was something less than crystal. If the former, I don't really share it, as I have had some really good times in Chicago, but it brought to mind an episode that made me feel more like a hick than I usually do.
This was right after I left the Navy, so it would be in the mid sixties. I was living in Milwaukee and my girlfriend's parents lived in Chicago so we went down on weekends quite often to visit them.
On one such occasion I got stopped by a policeman, purportedly for speeding, only I had not been speeding. I was arguing with the cop about the issue and my girlfriend was poking me with her elbow, making faces at me, hemming and hawing at me and generally carrying on. I couldn't decide who I was getting more angry at, the cop or my girlfriend, and the whole thing was becoming rather heated. The cop and I were both using language which would have been much more appropriate to a Navy ship than a downtown Chicago street, and I thought my girlfriend was trying to tell me not to argue with and swear at a policeman.
The policeman finally left without arresting (or shooting) me, at which point my girlfriend pretty much took up calling me all of the names that he had omitted. Seems she had been trying to tell me to just shut up and give the cop a twenty dollar bill, which had actually been the purpose of the whole exercise. In Chicago, in those days, a cop pulled you over, you gave him $20 and all ended well. Who knew?
I did. My dad was a Chicago copper (an honest one) for 31 years until his too-early death at 51 years old. During the original Mayor Daley years, he was a Deputy Superintendent (i.e. one of four "number 2's" in the department).
Once, me and my two brothers were pulled over in downtown Chicago for speeding, with a station wagon filled with fellow-members of our then-high-school track team (in uniform, on our way to a track meet).
The officer politely and helpfully explained that the ticket was for $50, but he had only one pencil with which to write it. Did we want to purchase the pencil for $20, we were asked?
My brother, who was driving, handed over his license and asked the officer to check the name on the license before he asked any more questions.
The officer read the name, handed the license back, and told us to drive carefully.
As my father used to say:
"There's nothing wrong with a police state, when you're the police."