These are the collected memories of my spent and misspent youth. Names have been changed to both protect the innocent and to subvert any statutes of limitations that may still apply. I will also take liberties with the truth as in who did what, or maybe combine a couple of stories together that really didn’t happen together. Such is the nature of a memoir. I am seeking to entertain, not write a documentary. Hope you enjoy.
Getting Pulled Over…On My Bicycle. Three Times.
From ’75 to ’81 I spend a lot of my time on a bicycle. The extended neighborhood seemed custom built for kids on bikes. Wide roads, no major traffic, and miles and miles of asphalt. I had s sting-ray style bike that I later converted to a motocross style, then a cheap 1-speed, then finally a nice Schwinn 10 speed. We probably put 500 to 800 miles on the bikes during the summer and another 500 the rest of the year. What often shocks people to know is that I have been “pulled over” by the police on my bicycle not once, not twice, but three times.
The first time may not really count, but we were on our bikes around 13 or 14 yrs old. We got caught in a spring rain while we were out so we sought shelter at Thompson Jr. High. They had an overhand by the front doors where the rain couldn’t hit us. There we sat on our bikes, patiently waiting out the cold early spring rain, when a police cruiser rolled by. He stopped out in the middle of the road, turned around, and pulled into the school turn around. He stopped where the buses let off, right in front of us, but maybe 100 feet or so away. He rolled down his window and was yelling to us, but it was hard to hear him. He started waving for us to come over to the car. Hymie didn’t have much of a way with words, but he could do a lot of communicating through his expressions and tone of voice. He gave the officer a weather report “It’s raining.” But what he actually communicated through tone and expression was, “hey, dumbass, we aren’t coming over there just to get wet and if you think we are then you are even more of a dumbass”. While the officer may have translated it a bit differently, he did get the message. He reached down and pulled up his microphone then started in with the PA system “You guys need to clear out of there right now, and if we find any vandalism, we know where to find you”. Then he left. We waited out the rain and then went home.
The second time I got pulled over I was solo. One lone rebel against the man, or that’s what he thought. Cisco’s bike was at my house for some reason, so the next time I went to his house I grabbed his bike and held onto it’s handlebar while I rode my bike. That way I could handle two bikes at once. Let me clue you into the bike at this point. Cisco’s bike was broken so he was using his Dad’s. This 3 speed from the early 60’s was in good shape but looked like an old man’s bike (from our point of view, anything over 25 was old remember). It was dark green with a spring loaded granny seat and low flat handlebars. It would have been perfectly fine on “My Three Sons” or “Leave it to Beaver”, but it was for emergency purposes only in 1979. I managed to get down to Boulder Hill School along Boulder Hill Pass when the officer pulled up to me and actually said “Pull Over”. With some difficulty I got myself and my bikes stopped (only had one hand available for the hand brake). “So, can you explain to me why you have two bikes?” At this point is when that part of me that bristles at any authority rushed past my common sense and gained control of my mouth. “I don’t have two bikes”. “Then what do you call those things?” “Oh, these are bikes, but they aren’t both mine.” “Don’t try to be smart with me” “I wouldn’t think of being smart with someone like you sir” He paused at this point “Which bike is yours”” This one” I said pointing to the one I was on. “Whose is the other bike” “My friend’s, I am taking it back to his house” “Does your friend have a name?””Yes” then I paused. As far as I was concerned, I had answered the question. “What is his name?” “Cisco” (Actually I used his real name, but not his last name). “How do I know you didn’t steal this bike?” Here I laughed. Not ironically, not forced, I was actually cracked up by the officer. “Why would I steal this? It’s an ugly old bike I wouldn’t be caught dead on.” “I think it looks pretty good” he said. I did manage to stiffle the laugh, but only because I was so shocked. Then he says “Ok, how about I just follow you to where you are going and we see if this is your friend’s bike.” He got back in his car and pointed for me to go on. I rode the half mile or so to Cisco’s house with the officer slowly crawling along behind me. I didn’t hurry. Once at Cisco’s house, his dad verified that it was their bike. As the officer went to leave he stopped right in front of me and brought is face close to mine. I recognized an attempt at intimidation. The ridiculousness of a 6ft+ cop in uniform with a club and gun in the face of a 5ft 6in 14yr old holding a bike is hard to picture. “I’m going to remember you” then got in his car and left.
The third time I got pulled over was a bit different and closer to what you would expect. There were three of us, but instead of Cisco, we had Spanky along with us. We were all staying the night at my house when we (probably Hymie, go figure) had the bright idea that it would be a fine night for a bike ride. It was midnight after all , with a clear sky and a full moon in the height of summer in the flatlands, so what could make more sense? And, so help me, there was not a single ounce of beer involved in this decision. The fact that we arrived at this idea without alcohol is a testament to the teen male mind. Anyway, we really weren’t interested in sticking around the neighborhood, so we headed out to the country. All in all, it was absolutely beautiful out that nigh. Farmland in mid summer on a nice night can be one of the most tranquil and wonderous places. We rode for close to two hours before deciding that we needed to head back. So we turned, but we thought to go through town instead of back the way we came. We reasoned that we had already been one way and we wanted to be sure to see something new. Another testament to teen male thinking. We headed towards town on Plainfield Road, the first busy road we used that night. Not three minutes on our way a car comes flying towards us then turns off onto a side road. About three minutes after that a police car comes roaring up the road with the lights flashing and goes by us. Another couple of minutes later the police case comes up beside us with the lights still flashing and asks us to stop. He asked us our names and ages, then took our licenses. He was breathing hard and obviously angry at something. “So, you boys just out for a bike ride in the middle of the night?” Hymie did the talking for us “Yessir”. “Says here that you and you are 17” he said pointing to Hymie and I. “Yessir” “And that you” pointing to Spanky “are only 16”. “Yessir”. “Well boys, you are out after curfew, which isn’t a problem but for your 16 year old friend here. He can be arrested for this.” Hymie didn’t bother with the Yessir this time, he just let the stunned looks on our faces do the talking. “But, since you two are with him and you are over 16, you can be arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. We call that a misdemeanor in this county you know”. We shared a couple of worried glances. We knew someone had just gotten away from him, and he was pissed. “Boys, I really don’t want to arrest you. At your age parents get involved and that is never fun. You need to realize that being out in the middle of the night is dangerous. You can get hit by a car, run over by some drunk, or worse yet, maybe there’s another Gacy out there looking for young boys.” The Gacy murders had dominated the news for over a year and were a very real example of what could happen. We stayed silent, first smart thing we did all night. “So, I’m going to let you ride on back home. I know who you are now, and I hope to never see you out again.” We groveled our thank yous and headed to town. Then I got to thinking about it as we rode. If he was worried about our safety, would he really have just turned us loose to ride the 1o miles back home at 2am?
There is an epilog. About 2 months after the last incident, my dad was over at the house to pick up my brother for some time. Sitting there in the living room with my mom in the room, he says “Hey, I ran into a friend of yours at the bar a couple of weeks ago” (He was tending bar some nights in Yorkville at the time). “None of my friends can get into bars, Dad” which wasn’t just a defense, it was the truth. We didn’t even bother to try. “No, it was an adult. Do you recall the name Officer Friendly?” (Friendly not being the real name, but a handy stand in). “Uh, no” I said. Which was again the truth, I did not remember the officer’s name. “Well, the officer asked me my name and then asked me if I had any kids in Oswego. He then told me a story about pulling over some kids on bikes way out in the country a couple of months back, and he thought the name sounded familiar.” While I am an accomplished liar, it never worked with mom. I tried anyway “Nope, doesn’t sound familiar”. While mom was an accomplished lie detector, sometimes she just would rather not have the whole truth