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Mr. Smith Gets a Ticket

Related imageAs many of you are aware, I’m an old retired Trooper from the state of Connecticut. At one time in the late 70’s I was assigned to the Traffic Division, our duties involved the enforcement of Motor Vehicle Laws on the highways of the state. We were mostly assigned to the limited access roads in the state such as Interstate highways, Parkways and the like. On some days we concentrated on Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, mostly trucks, tractor trailers and buses. Other days were spent doing radar enforcement of speed limits. We worked out of marked cruisers as well as many different undercover cars and trucks.

On this day that I’m writing about, we were doing speed enforcement on Route 2, which runs NW to SE from East Hartford, CT to the CT/RI line near Westerly, RI. My partner on this day was Dave Gibbs and he was the Radar Operator. I was the Trooper pulling over the speeding motorist in a marked cruiser and issuing the Traffic Citation to the motorist operating the vehicle.
We were working in the town of Glastonbury, set up in the NW travel lane, Trooper Gibbs was on the left shoulder of the divided highway in an unmarked nondescript car with hood up that looked like a disabled vehicle. After clocking a vehicle he could visual see them as they rounded a curve toward my location on the right shoulder. He would call out via radio the description of the vehicle to me, such as “ Red Ford, left lane, rounding the bend now, 84 MPH. The posted speed limit on this stretch of road was 55 MPH.

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To further paint a picture of this specific event I must add one thing. At the top of this long hill where we were working, almost a mile to the S/E was a crossover for official use only. At the time of this specific stop there happened to be a Trooper in a marked cruiser sitting in the crossover eating lunch and doing paperwork. This Trooper was not assigned to the Traffic Division, he was on routine patrol from the Colchester Barracks, Troop K. The acknowledgement of his location was all over the CB radio waves which we also monitored. “ Breaker – Breaker 1-9, Smoky in the cross over top of the hill by mile marker such and such.”

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Dave calls out the speed and description of the offending vehicle. I exit my marked 1978 Ford Crown Victoria, point to the offending vehicle approaching me and motion for the driver to pull over, which he does. As is common practice I say something to the likes of “ Good morning sir, I pulled you over for speeding, you were clocked on radar at 84 MPH in a 55 MPH zone. I would then ask for the operators driver’s license and registration.
I must take a moment to talk about glove compartments and center consoles. It never ceased to amaze me the disorganization of these compartments. Many twelve-year-old vehicles would have each and every registration that was ever issued as well as insurance papers dating back to the crusades. Old sandwiches, jars of oozing peanut butter, dripping lipstick, (summer only) and everything imaginable or unimaginablecould be found in some compartments. A road Trooper has seen it all at one time or another.

The operator in this case, Mr Smith, says, “Oh No, I knew that car was there, it was all over the CB radio and I was doing exactly 55 miles per hour when I passed him.”  I question him as to where this was and he tells me it was at the crossover a mile or so back and described the maroon Ford of the Troop K officer eating his lunch at this location. We did some checking up after the stop, knowing this one was going to court, I documented this information with the i’s dotted and the T’s crossed.
Without going into a whole lot of detail with Mr. Smith I explained to him this was not the officer who clocked him on radar. As was always my custom, I, yes Sir and no Sir’d him to death during the encounter as he arrogantly berated myself, the State of Connecticut and the Connecticut State Police as nothing but revenue collectors. I was informed he was from New York and he would see me in court. Of course I was still awaiting the extraction of the registration from the glove compartment. Eventually this document was located and presented to me and a citation for speeding was issued. Mr Smith would drive off while still berating me, my department and the State of Connecticut.
As is the custom and protocol in a speeding ticket, I filled in the explanation of this stop in the appropriate location on my copy of the ticket which would then go to the court. In this case should it go to court, it would be in the town of Manchester. It is the operator’s prerogative to mail in the fine or appear in court to contest the citation.
BINGO, about six weeks later Trooper Gibbs and me are summoned to court in Manchester for State of Connecticut vs. Mr Smith. On the day of the trial Trooper Gibbs would testify first that he was the Radar Operator and was in a 1976 Plymouth Satellite, 2 door, silver, parked on the side of the road at a specific location with the hood raised and for all intent and purposes that car looked like a disabled vehicle. He stated he clocked the offending vehicle at 84 MPH in a posted 55 MPH zone and that the radar was calibrated and checked according to law and department procedures. There was no rebuttal by the accused, Mr. Smith.
I would testify next. I was asked if I recognized the accused Mr. Smith. In this case I certainly did and pointed to him sitting alone at a table to my front. Knowing he was innocent, Mr. Smith would represent himself. I then proceeded, using my notes on the citation and additional notes in my field notebook to paint a vivid picture of the entire incident in great detail which included his glove compartment contents. States Attorney Arnold Markle said in a class I once took, “Document, Document, Document, if it’s not written down, it never happened.” I never did forget that one class, and I always documented. Even today I document and keep a daily journal.
After my testimony Mr. Smith was sworn in and began testifying in his own behalf. He would mention the Trooper eating lunch at the crossover, the chit-chat on the CB radio and the fact he never saw Trooper Gibbs car. “Of course he didn’t, he was going 84 MPH.”
He went on to describe me and the fact I belittled him and was nothing but a revenue collector. He stated that the Trooper always used the words “yes sir, no sir” and when stating he would see me in court the Trooper said, “That is your right sir and have a good day”.
The Judge, after a long pause, asked Mr. Smith, “ and what was belittling about the way the Trooper spoke to you? Mr. Smith said, “I just knew he didn’t mean it when he said all those yes sirs and no sirs”.
The Judge would pound his gavel once, say the word “Guilty” and set the fine, court cost, and direct Mr. Smith where to pay the clerk.
“Troopers, your dismissed.”

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It pays to document! Thank you sir for a day of overtime, my family appreciated the extra income.
Should you find yourself down in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia outside of Roanoke and happen by the Virginia Mountain Winery, stop in and say hello to retired Trooper Gibbs. Make sure you tell him,  The Rooster sent you.

 

Editors note: Mr Smith is not the name of the operator of the offending vehicle in this case. All events are to the best of this writers recollection and I thank David Gibbs for being my wing man for a number of years while assigned together. Cheers Dave and thanks for looking over the rough of this one stop of many in our careers.

elderly couple

Don’t forget to check on the elderly.

 

A Thanksgiving Trip

The Return Home    Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock.com

Returning home from a trip to Oklahoma and Mississippi recently I found myself standing in the underground of the Birmingham, Alabama airport returning our rental car. If you ever find yourself in BHM and in need of a rental I would say it’s the worst experience I’ve ever had. The signage for where rental car pickup is located is horrible. It is on the bottom floor of a massive parking garage. It is poorly lit, kind of reminds me of the Philadelphia subway system back in the early fifties, damp, dark and eerie is the feeling. My head was on a swivel and my hand was on my gun, oops, not there any longer, I’m retired, I forgot.

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Thrifty, not really as much as the name implies is the last kiosk as you drive through this underground maze. Were it rows of corn I would have used the word (Maize,) Wordsmith taught me that one. This being the Saturday after Thanksgiving, things were busy in the underground. Returning cars, worker bees and people standing in line were the order on this early morning. Fortunately I departed Starkville, MS early or I would have had an elevated stress level.

I had dropped herself and our granddaughter at the departing curb up above first, a smart move on my part I must say. Granddaughter Rachael had an earlier flight than us and the two of them started the check in process, they had my suitcase also. It was just me, the rental car and my backpack, I give that to no one.

There were multiple cars being returned at the Thrifty kiosk which is shared with Budget Rental Cars. I’m directed to a line of cars by a young man smiling and sipping from a hot cup of Starbucks, steam from the cup is giving his face a cloudy haze. I start to park behind the last car, the woman in the driver’s seat is looking back at me, waving excitedly for me to back up and beeping her horn like a mad woman. There is no place for me to go, another car has already placed it’s self in line. The young man drinking Starbucks approaches and after a few minutes gets things organized. We park, crazy lady leaves.

It seems the panicking lady had left her purse at her place of departure and needed to return. Those of us in the growing line of returnees were sorted into various spaces so the mad woman could go from whence she came and return once again at a later time. Any bets if she made her flight?

I get back in line, not quite in the same order as a car to my rear jumped in front of me thanks to the directions from Starbucks man. I hand my paperwork to a young woman who proceeds to do the fastest walk-around of a rental I have ever seen. Perhaps too much coffee and she needs a pit stop? She tells me I’m good to go, I grab my backpack, she hands me my papers and points to the growing line of returnees, I’m, number five.

I’m only in line for a few minutes when I’m joined by a family of five, mom, dad, two girls ten or so, and a teen age boy busy on his cell phone while he sits on a huge duffel bag. I’m guessing a girlfriend back home is on the other end. The girls are busy giggling, the mother looks as though she is not happy being up so early and is expressing the same to the husband. In a few minutes she leaves with the girls and heads towards the terminal.

My wife says I’m a talker, she’s right, I am, who, what, where, when and why are my trade mark. Back in my Law Enforcement days I conducted and evaluated hundreds of background investigations while a member of the CT State Police Selection Unit recruiting process. That penchant for people’s nomenclature has never left me.

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The line has yet to move, I turn to the man in line who’s wife just left with the girls, he’s wearing a red sweatshirt with a monogrammed “R,” I point, “Rutgers” I say, “yep” he says. “You from Jersey” I say. “Yep, Exit 8A off the Turnpike,” “Exit 5” I say, Jerzyeez jargon for those who don’t know. Everyone in Jersey uses a N.J. Turnpike Exit # or Garden State Parkway Exit # to orient people as to where they live. The inquisition has begun.

We chat while the line moves slowly, Rutgers man was in Alabama for Thanksgiving with the wife’s retired parents. They have a lovely retirement home on a lake in Sweet Home Alabama. I learn the son is most definitely talking to his sweetheart back in Hightstown, seems he had no desire to come south and visit Granny and Gramps. Who would think that was the case. The Mrs. teaches school, Rutgers man works in pharmaceuticals and will be glad when he gets home. He will also miss the Iron Bowl, a football game between Auburn and Alabama for those not in the know. Oh, and his beloved NY Giants are not doing well this year. They will do Newark by way of Atlanta on Delta. Who, what, where, when and Why,  all answered.

My phone rings, it’s herself, where am I she asks? It seems she and the granddaughter are all checked in, as is their luggage. My luggage however is still on the conveyor belt at the ‘AA” counter. TSA rules prohibit it being loaded until an ID’d person is matched with it. And where is this person, still in the Dungeon of Doom, Dilly Dilly. I explain its at least another ten minutes prior to me being on my way. She sounds frustrated as we hang up. It’s been a long trip.

Rutgers man and I chat football, growing up in Jersey, the beaches at the shore and stay away from politics, Roy Moore country you know.  Eventually I made it to the front of the line, I thought I had won a prize. I got apologies from the kiosk attendant, a lovely calm young lady who gave me a $50.00 coupon for a future rental that I never asked for. I didn’t even complain. If you travel Thanksgiving this is something to expect. I say goodby to Mr. Exit 8 and make a bee line to the check in counter. On this day I will get my steps in.

The AA staff are happy to see me and get an ID from the baggage owner who’s luggage is accumulating dust. I get my receipt and we are off to find our cup of Starbucks, I’m smiling.

Should you ever fly into OKC, you’ll love the rental car experience there, one stop shopping, constant shuttles. BHM has a long way to go.

As for me and mine, we were off to the Eastern Shore via Charlotte and Philadelphia on American Airlines. I hope all who celebrated the day of Thanksgiving had a wonderful four-day weekend, and from our home to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas.

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Photo Credits: Turnpike , Wiki. Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, city of Birmingham, Rutgers Jersey, Rutgers, Thanksgiving Dinner, Pinterest

 

T Shirt Contest

Our trip north has ended and we are back home after XXXX number of miles. How many miles did you put on that Subaru of yours you might ask. Well, thats why we’re having a contest and the winner will receive a Maryland Flag “T” Shirt.

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Six years ago my brother in-law Bobby and I made a cross country trip together to Colorado, we were delivering a car to my granddaughter at the Air Force Academy. I blogged our trip through the Ohio River Valley, the bread belt of Illinois and Kansas and up to the Rockies of Colorado. We had a T Shirt contest for that adventure as well. Our winner was Della Baird of Wilmington, NC and her photo in her winning T Shirt was posted on a later blog.  Uncle Bobby is no longer with us, but whenever we go on a trip his spirit for adventure lives.

So, here we go.

You must email the Rooster @ elfidd@gmail.com no later than midnight on September 30, 2016 with your guess on the # of miles driven on our trip through, CT, RI, MA, NH, ME, NB, PEI, NS and back. The person who comes the closest without going over the actual total mileage is the winner.

The Itinerary

Departed Eden/Allen, MD, 21822  on 21 August and drove to Vernon then Tolland, CT. We hung out in CT for six days taking a few side trips to Mystic, CT,  Westerly, RI for one and to our daily walking path in Vernon and breakfast there a few times also. We went to Stafford Springs, CT for my State Police Troop “C” reunion also.

Back on the road 28 August we would leave Tolland and head to Bangor, ME. We pretty much drove a direct route to Portland, ME and then the all back roads to Bangor began. We tried to stay parallel to I-95 but we got off the beaten path more than once.

After a nice evening in Bangor, ME we headed out to cross the Canadian border on 29 August at the Calais/St. Stephen crossing and drive to Moncton, NB for the evening.  Rt 1 was our road for that trip. We drove around some to see the tide change and have dinner while in Moncton.

On August 30th we arose well rested and after a great breakfast we were off to the home of Lucy Maude Montgomery, the Author of “Anne of Green Gables.” Garmin got us there directly. Now you must do a bit of detective work and locate the site. After some time at Lucy’s homestead we headed to Charlottetown and our hotel. Oops, the rooms not ready. To kill some time we would drive to Brackley Beach and have some great fish and chips. After much it was back to Charlottetown and the hotel right down town.

We arose on the 31st and after some walking about town we drove semi directly to the ferry located at Wood Islands where we would cross to Nova Scotia and the city of Halifax. We would drive directly to Halifax via Garmin and park our car for two days in the garage of the Residence Inn. Our feet would be our transportation for this stop.

We would hop back into the car once again on 2 September and drive via Garmin to Saint John, NB. We did take a side trip to Fundy National Park along the way. More figuring for you readers out there. Once again our feet and a Trolly tour were our transportation while in Saint John for two days.

On Sunday 4 September we departed Saint John, made the border crossing at ST Stephen/Calais once again and followed Garmin’s direction to Bucksport, Me. Once checked into the Bucksport Motor Inn, highly recommend it by the way, we were off on a drive along Route 1 south to Bayside, Belfast and the Young’s Lobster Pound. If ever in Belfast try it out, you will not be sorry, provided you like Lobster that is.

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Labor day, September 5 we headed south to Portland, Maine, we ignored Garmin once again and motored along Route 1 south. We saw old haunts along the way, Lincolnville and it’s ferry to Islesboro where we ventured with family for a beachside picnic many years ago. Going through the town of Bath you pass the Bath Iron Works, a neat view as you cross the Kennebec river.

We made a stop in Camden, a must if you ever travel Route 1. Slow down people, get off the Interstate. Entering Camden I had an “Epiphany.”  “Wallack” I shouted out as my wife glared at me like I was some crazy man. Ever since heading south from the border I had been trying to remember someone’s name.  I’d gone through the alphabet over and over. Have you ever done that? I knew his first name was Mark and when he retired from the CT State Police he had moved to Maine. I had known this man dating back to 1981 when he first applied to the department for a Troopers position. I was working in the Selection Unit back then.

So I remember a name, the man possibly living in Camden from a contact I had back some ten years ago about him retiring to Camden, ME. No address, no phone number and no internet to go searching. “Dang” says I to myself as I ease into a parking spot right in downtown Camden. The little lady want’s to walk the shops, “$$$,” visit the waterfront and just take a nostalgic stroll, we’ve been here numerous times over the past 51 years.

She sees an eclectic souvenir shop and enters. I stroll ahead totally oblivious to her disappearing act which is commonplace. Many times I’m thankful she has her phone with her, “where are you I ask?” On this occasion I recover from the alone feeling quickly and trace her back to the said store. I mean I was a Detective, right?

The Mrs. searches the shelves for something to take to Oklahoma to the great grandkids in October and I think, this place must have a phone book. I borrow the book, peruse the “W’s” list of names and no Mark Wallack, “damn” I mutter to myself. No luck I say to the store owner. “Who are you looking for,” he asks. I explain who, and the connection going back thirty-five years ago. “Mach” he exclaims, “I know Mach.” You see, there are no “R’s” in the Maine vocabulary. The man goes into a lengthy explanation of how he knows him and how much a part of the community he is. I get a phone number and address from him, he lives just one mile out of town. We’re out of the store, $58.95 later, and we head up the street to see an old friend.

We find the house, an adorable Cape on a lake, kayak with fishing rod rigged to the side, (every man’s retirement dream) just waiting at the dock. A feisty Aussie Mini Collie, (could be something else, but that’s close enough) is greeting us on the porch. I find out later the dog’s name is Frisbee.  I knock, Mach answers, we recognize each other after all these years and it’s Man Hug Time.

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We pass an hour’s plus of time, take a few remembrance photos and say good-by. I shall MACH this epiphany in my journal. It was great seeing you old friend.

We continue south, stop and get a Subway, grinder in hand, New England for Hero, Sub, Italian Sandwich, or what ever. We have ourselves a roadside lunch stop in Rockport and continue south to Freeport, home of L. L. Bean. You can not go through Freeport without stopping at the store, I think it’s a law or something. I have my picture taken in front of the customary boot, spend a few dollars and we’re off again.

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We will spend the night in Portland, take a side trip to Windham to have dinner with old friends, Gilbert’s Chowder House was the venue for this last taste test. This time a Bread Bowl of Fish Chowder.  Great to see you Shirley and Ray. Shirley and my sister Donna were best of friends, having first met as student nurses back in 1963. Shirley was part of the family at my sisters bedside when she died on July 1st. Thank you Shirley for all you have meant for so many years. The few, the proud, the Pie Maker. Too short a visit, we will make it longer next time. Back to the hotel on Mall Road in Portland for a good nights sleep prior to leaving for Tolland, CT the next AM.

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Herself on the left  with good friends Shirley and Ray

Garmin would be happy with us on Tuesday, September 6. No U-turns were suggested as we cruised the speedy interstates the entire way. We did continue past Tolland to Vernon Pizza for a great Grinder, Capiccola for me, Pastrami for herself.

We lay over one night with the son and family, say good-night and are out the door by 0500 the next morning. Our last day on the road was an easy one, Garmin is not needed at all, I drove this route for the first time 57 years ago. I’ve varied the route countless times, often going far out of the way just to do something different. I’ll keep Garmin on in case a detour is needed at some point but not for directions.

Here you go, last bit of mileage to calculate, Tolland, CT via I-84 to I-684 Brewster, NY to I-287, to Garden State Parkway in NJ. NJ Turnpike, cross into Delaware ( She wore a Yellow Ribbon by the way) Rt. 1 south to Dover, DE to Rt.13 to 21810.

OK you readers out there, get calculating, googling or what ever. Make your best guess and submit it by September 30, 2016 by 2400 hours to elfidd@gmail.com

If you win and want the shirt, please state size and your mailing address. I shall not flood you with junk mail, only a “T” shirt.

Just a little FYI, we got four new hens last night, 15 weeks old and our first egg this afternoon. Six hens now and one very happy Rooster named Casper. The girls are Mary, Hillary, Donna, Linda, Bobbie and Marie. Hillary by the way is a liar. Always spending time in the layer box, squawking like she just laid an egg and no egg to be found. Liar, Liar, pants on fire.

Thanks for stopping by. Plenty of links for you this time, enjoy. We have now traveled every mile of and touched touched both ends of  U.S. Route 1.  Can you say Xylophone?

Rooster LogoSemper-fidelis

 

ORF Gathering at Troop “C”

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Now a Senior Center in Stafford Springs, CT, this aged old building was my first assignment as a trooper  with the CT State Police 43 years ago. Back in the day it was known as “Troop C.” It was here on 27 August that an ORF gathering took place. ( Old Retired Farts)

We had a mother hen who kept us up to date with our reports and kept us out of trouble. Her name was Anne Fitzgerald. Anne is well into her 80’s and brought us back together under her motherly umbrella for a final Swan Song for her, so she said. She let us know this was her last official act. Anne, thank you for all you’ve done for me and many others through the years. It was a wonderful event and I thank you.

I brought my wife along on this venture. She was a real Trooper, just smiled and hung in there as war stories were told amonst old comrads. Thank you my dear for being a part of my evening, you rock.

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The following article from the “Hartford Courant” will give you a background on “Troop C.” This is the new and improved home for the troop.

Troop C Barracks Leaving Stafford This Weekend

March 17, 1995|By SANDY LOUEY; Courant Staff Writer

STAFFORD — After 72 years of housing cops and crooks, the state police barracks on Route 190 will close this weekend.

The Troop C barracks is moving to new quarters in Tolland.

The troopers and other employees will bid goodbye to a cramped 1920s-era two-story building. Sunday will find them working in a state-of-the-art facility with nearly double the space.

“Hopefully, things will happen very smoothly,” said state police spokesman Sgt. Dale Hourigan.

A moving company will start transporting equipment and other items Saturday morning and everything is scheduled to be done by Sunday afternoon, he said. During the two days Troop C is in transition, the old and new building will be staffed.

“We’re not going to upset or diminish our capability to respond,” Hourigan said.

By 4 p.m. Sunday, the Stafford barracks will be empty, Hourigan said.

Residents and officials in Stafford said they will miss having the barracks so close.

“It’s a nice, secure feeling to have a barracks full of troopers,” said Peter Gibbs, who was walking along Main Street.

“We’re losing some good neighbors,” said Michael Robinson, president of the Stafford Chamber of Commerce. “We wish them well.”

Citizens say they’re not worried about how the barracks’ move will affect the policing in town, mainly, because the town set up a resident trooper program in anticipation of the move.

A state resident trooper, Dan Herman, two full-time constables, and nine part-time constables patrol the town.

Robinson said they are a visible presence in town.

“I see them all the time,” he said.

Dock Sellers, who was a former borough warden during a time in which the borough had its own police department, said most residents won’t even notice the change.

“Most people in Stafford have never driven to the barracks and have no reason to,” he said.

All the policing is done on the roads, anyway, he said.

“They don’t have to walk,” he said.

Built in 1923, the Stafford barracks was constructed of stone and clapboard.

At one time, the troopers were required to live, eat, and sleep at the barracks. That practice ended in the late 1960s.

The building won’t be abandoned for long if town officials have their way.

As a result of a 1989 special act of the state legislature, the barracks and the three acres would be transferred to Stafford.

Plans are to turn the building into a community center. Part of the old barracks would be a center for senior citizens, while another area of the building would used for a youth center, First Selectman John Julian said.

Senior citizens now gather at the Golden Age Club, while teenagers in town usually hang out on Main Street.

The plans depend on whether the town receives a federal grant, Julian said. The town applied for a federal Small Cities Grant. The town is eligible for $500,000.

The new phone number for the Tolland barracks is 870-9500 or 1-800-318-7632.

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The badge I took into retirement with me. Proud to have served and to have been part of the “Thin Blue Line.”

 

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Two old friends, Charlie Vanderscoff and Sterling MacPherson. Your back was always covered with these two around.

TBL Blessed_

On Sunday morning we head north to Maine and on to PEI, Canada. Lots going on back home also that I’ll attempt to get into print. Once again, thanks for stopping by to take a gander at my chicken scratch.

Rooster LogoSemper-fidelis

A Tribute to a Hero

Some of you may know I retired from the CT State Police some 28 years ago. We get frequent updates of this, that, and other things from time to time via email and our Alumni News Letter. Thanks to the Internet you can still feel a part of your past and keep track of who’s doing what and the various things going on. Our CT State Police Alumni Association does a wonderful job.

I did not know Darrell D Stark but obviously there was a true American hero living in close proximity to my first posting, Troop “C” Stafford Springs. Troop “C” has moved from Stafford Springs to Tolland, CT a more central location in the geographical responsibility area. The troop even has their own Face Book page.

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Troop C, Stafford Springs, CT (Now a Sr. Ctr.)

 

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Troop C, Tolland, CT

On the first Monday of each month all OF’s, ( Old Farts) get together at a local eating establishment, tell war stories and catch up on what each is doing as well as who’s not doing well. This American Hero was a guest and speaker at one of Troop “Cs” breakfast sessions.

I received this today and just wanted to pass it along. It’s short, a wonderful read and a person, “The Donald,” would dispute being a hero.

I’ve included a few links that look back on the history of where Darrell’s mis-adventures took him for those who may be interested. I’m sure many of us, me included, have no clue as to some of this history. We all owe it to ourselves, to know from whence we came. I remember an old quote from John F. Kennedy; “We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea – whether it is to sail or to watch it – we are going back from whence we came.” Thank you to Darrell and all the men and women of World War II, Where might we be now?

Semper Fi.”

Stark, Darrell D

Stark, Darrell D.

Darrell D Stark, 92, of Stafford Springs, CT, husband to the love of his life for 69 years, the late Julia (Ridzon) Stark, passed away on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 at Evergreen Health Care Center surrounded by his loving family.

He was born in Ardmore, OK, son of the late Frank H. and Gladys (Pollard) Stark. He left his loving family in Oklahoma at 16 to work in the Civilian Conservation camp in Montrose, CO. He enlisted at 18 in the United States Army and was a very proud member of the 31st infantry. He surrendered in Bataan, Philippines on April 9, 1942, and saw the horrors of the death march. He spent time in the Cabanatuan and Davao Penal Colony and Bilibid prison, and then spent 62 days on the Hellship Canadian Inventor and arrived in Moji, Japan in September or October of 1944. He worked in a factory in Yokkaichi, Japan for three or four months until the factory was destroyed by an earthquake. He then went to Toyama and was liberated there in August 1945.

http://time.com/3334677/pow-world-war-two-usa-japan/

After returning to the United States, he was hit by a car and that is when he met the love of his life working at the military hospital. Darrell was a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient. He retired as a corrections officer from the State of Connecticut. Darrell was a member of the Strazza, Tonoli-Emhoff Post No. 26 American Legion, V.F.W. Post No. 9990 of Stafford, and the Italian Benefit Society. He spent a lifetime trying to help those who suffered from PTSD, talking to veterans at the VA or veterans at the prison, they all had the same thing in common and all handled it differently. He loved to be on the go and if one of his children was not able to take him to lunch or out and about he would say “that’s ok, I’ll call Dave or Fred”. Thank you Dave Walsh and Fred Bird, he loved you both like family. He also had adventures with Hope Frassinelli every Friday since his beloved Mimi passed away. We cannot forget the reporter that came to interview with him and found a new family and new projects that he would give her to do, Amber Wakley, thank you.

He is survived by his three children, Darrell W. “Butch” Stark and his wife Dolores, Darlene Dion and her husband Edward, and Judy Gilbert and her husband Ronald; nine grandchildren, Jennifer, Amy, Cynthia, Eddie, Chris, Michael, Peter, Nancy, and Stephanie; 15 great grandchildren; two brothers, Donald “Bud” Stark and his wife Reta, and Gerald “Ed” Stark and his wife Ruby; two brothers-in-law, Edward Ridzon and Daniel Ridzon and his wife Pat; very special friends, Dick and Shirley Hills; and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by three sisters and two brothers.

His funeral service will be held on Monday, February 22, 2016 at 10 A.M. at Introvigne Funeral Home, Inc., 51 East Main St., Stafford Springs, CT. Burial with Military Honors will follow in South Cemetery, Tolland, CT. Calling hours are on Sunday from 1-4 P.M. at the funeral home. Memorial donations may be made to the Stafford Youth Center, 3 Buckley Highway, Stafford Springs, CT 06076, American Legion Post No. 26, 10 Monson Rd., Stafford Springs, CT 06076, or please show an act of kindness towards a veteran.

For online condolences or directions, please visit: http://www.introvignefuneralhome.com

Editor, Darrell was an honored guest at the Troop C monthly breakfast.  The above photo was taken at the May 2015 breakfast when he spoke of his war time experiences.  He was a true hero of the greatest generation.  May he rest in peace.  kb

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Former Hartford Fire Chief, Council Majority Leader John B. Stewart Jr. Dies

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I got a text from my brother in-law in Connecticut on this Sunday past that Chief Stewart died. Yea, so you might ask. What does that have to with you down there on the Eastern Shore of Maryland?  Well Pilgrim, listen up, as John Wayne used to say.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been around the block a few times during this life, on this sphere spinning around and around every 24 hours. One of those many blocks encompassed a brief stop as a Firefighter with the Hartford, CT Fire Department. That would have been over 40 years ago. I was a young and very impressionable husband and father of three at the time.

After my initial training I was assigned to a Ladder truck, Truck 1, located at 250 Pearl Street. We had to share our house with an Engine co, a Deputy Chief, and the administrative arm of the Department. This was the Headquarters for the Hartford Fire Department, The Chiefs home. We were smack dab in the middle of downtown Hartford.

There was a fair amount of civil unrest going on in those days, the late 60’s and early 70’s. There were riots in 1969 and 1970. Many cases of arson kept the fire department busy and this writer wondering what he signed up for while rocks and bottles were thrown when responding to an alarm. On occasions shots were fired, perhaps I should return to the Marine Corps so I could shoot back I often thought.

Hartford was founded in 1637, one of our country’s oldest cities. At one time it was also the richest city in the United States. Today Hartford has gone the way of many early U.S. cities, with population decline and unemployment incline.

With social unrest growing in the late 60’s and 70’s the Fire Department appointed a young Lieutenant, John B. Stewart Jr. to head it’s Community Relations unit. The young Lieutenant would rise through the ranks and ultimately become the Department’s Chief and first African American Chief in New England in 1980. The chef would lead the department for 12 years and ultimately retire In June of 1992. The chief would get into politics and ultimately become Council Majority Leader in Hartford.

I would apply for a position and be accepted into the Community Relations Unit late in 1971. Along with Nelson Carter and Cecil Alston we would carry out the mission of the Unit. Educational programs were conducted in the entire K-12 school system, both public and private schools. The department would sponsor two midget football teams and administer a summer sprinkler program throughout the city. We would serve on numerous organization’s boards as public safety representatives.

Much of what the fire department accomplished community wide, became reality with input and financial aide from the Insurance companies that called Hartford home. John Stewart was responsible for much of this joint camaraderie between the city, fire department and insurance industry.

For the remainder of my time with the department, John Stewart would become a friend and mentor to me while working under his tutelage. To this date I shall be ever grateful for having spent time learning and growing as a firefighter and person. Compassion and empathy to those we served dictated that all would be ok. John Stewart lived those traits and exhibited them in his daily actions. From those actions and his leadership, I learned so much.

I would not make a career of the fire service. I would ultimately resign my appointment as a firefighter when I was accepted into the State Police Academy in 1973. Deep down, since an early age in New Jersey, I always wanted to be a State Trooper. John Stewart encouraged me to apply and wrote a recommendation for me during the application process. John Stewart would be there the night I graduated from The State Police Academy.

The Hartford Courant newspaper would report on the death of Chief Stewart in it’s October 20, 2015 edition. The Chief’s obituary can be found at http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/hartfordcourant/obituary.aspx?n=john-b-stewart&pid=176151324
After my retirement from The State Police Department my wife and I would retire to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. For ten years our home served as a bed and breakfast for travelers. Two of our many guests were the Chief and his wife Gladys. We were honored to have them share our home and continue our long friendship.

A time remembered from long ago is: We were having incidents of small fires in abandoned buildings close to a housing project. The time of the incidents was generally when the youth of the area would be heading home from school. The Chief decided we should stake out one of those vacant  buildings one day. Remember now, we were firefighters. We were not police, no guns, handcuffs, powers of arrest or any of those protective measures that come to one in such positions. Just two fools who might catch a Juvenile Delinquent in action. At least that was my take on this adventure.

We would get to the selected location 15 minutes prior to the local Middle School dismissal for the day. There were two stairwells in this old warehouse where we would eventually await any comers. The building was at least three stories tall and half a football field long. We would wait out of sight by a window and watch, should we see any youth approaching from the direction of the school we would hide under the stairwells. At least that was the Chiefs plan. He was not worried about any physical encounter he assured me.

I told the chief I was going to check out the rest of the building, just to make sure we didn’t already have any company in the building. Looking back at this late date, what would I have done if encountered someone? I remember leaving the Chief at the window, walking to the far staircase and going to the 2nd and 3rd floors. With all being secure and no company located, I descended the staircase closest to where I had left the Chief by the window. As I descended the stairs, they creaked with the age of many years of use. When I had vision of the window where the Chief had been, he was gone. I paused and looked around.

I took the remaining steps slowly, one step at a time, creak, creak, creak. Suddenly, as I reached the bottom landing, I was startled. The Chief sprung from beneath the stairwell with a six foot piece of old 2×4 in his hands, holding it above his head in a threatening manner. I saw relief in his eyes as he recognized me. I said to him “and you’re not worried about any physical encounters.”

It was not long after that experience that I applied to the Connecticut State Police.

Hartford Connecticut has lost a man who always lived with the cities best interest in his heart.

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To all the Stewart family, please accept our condolences for your loss.

Semper-fidelis