Friday, April 4, 2014

Delaware - Among My Souvenirs (1985)

This is a story about the State of Delaware. It is also a story about my early driving habits. At the same time it a story about courting my wife long distance. And, it is also the story of my time working with my father, which was the result of a promise made to my dying mother. In short; this is a multi-faceted tale.

In late 1984 I left my job as a Merchant Mariner employed by Military Sealift Command; a civilian component of the United States Navy. I served honorably in the Navy and then worked for the Command as a civilian contractor. I left the job; according to my letter of resignation; “….in order to effect a more positive lifestyle.” I thought that sounded pretty cool. I still do.

My mother had just recently passed away and I had foolishly made a promise to her that I would come home and work for my father for a year; a promise I would come to regret.

At the time I possessed several different licenses in several different states. I used them like credit cards; jamming one up with points before switching to another one while the points fell off the first one. It was a system which suited me well. Sailors take some time to adjust to traveling on wheels, and so are entitled to some sort of accommodation as they find their land legs.

The ticket at the bottom is not related to the money order at the top. It’s essential that you understand that. The money order was for the ticket I got on the way home from Baltimore to New York on the 13th. The second ticket was for going back to Baltimore the next night, which was Valentine’s Day! Well, actually the ticket wasn't merely for going back; I wasn't blacklisted or anything. I was just driving too fast, again.

The date(s) shown above indicate I was in Delaware on both the 13th of February; which is when I was pulled over at about 3 AM doing about 90. I have always remembered that I was taken into custody because I had an outstanding ticket which I had never paid, not expecting to be pulled over again in Delaware. It was kind of like my own lottery. The hardest part was remembering which license I had used. I had a great many tickets during this period; about $10,000 in all. And, I still have all the receipts to prove it.

I arrived at the Justice of the Peace station following the State Trooper in my own car. Apparently I was not dangerous enough to require restraint. The location was a place called Willington. It would be my home for the next several hours.

At about 6 AM I phoned Sue to get some sympathy for having gotten locked up. After all, I was doing this for her. Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but at the time I was looking for sympathy. I knew better than to ask her to send me money, as she didn't have any. That left me with only one recourse. I would have to call my father.

At the time I was working for him and he expected me to be ready in the mornings. I had promised my mother that I would give the arrangement a shot when I left the ships after 8 years at sea. This was her last request of me and I felt somewhat committed to it. So, in September of 1984 I left my job with Military Sealift Command and went to work for him.

My dad and I used to meet at his apartment in 1310 Avenue R. He lived in 2-H and I lived in 5-G. I was never late. But this morning I knew that I would be severely behind time, so to speak, and I owed him a call. Also, if I were to show up that day, I needed cash. Fast.

At the time there was a commercial on television which showed various people calling home for cash in different emergencies. One of them was of a teen aged son calling home from a phone booth on the side of the road in the middle of the night. There were police cruisers in the background, indicating some sort of trouble with the law. The son says something like, “Hey Dad, I need cash; FAST!” So I said something along those lines, got cussed out in the bargain, and then proceeded to wait on the money order. That’s his handwriting and signature on the money order application/receipt.

Now, the money order should have been available in something like 30 seconds and I should have been on the road again, but that’s not what happened. For whatever reason; and I have no memory of why; the magistrate would not send anyone to town to get the money order. He wouldn't even phone to see if it had arrived. I was deeply troubled by this as my father would be sure to make the day miserable for me on account of any further delay.

After about 3 hours or so I decided to leave. My keys were still in the car, and I was still unshackled, so what the heck. I simply got up and left. I got home in time to do a decent afternoon’s work and then I headed straight back to Baltimore. After all, it was now Valentine’s Day Eve and I'm a romantic at heart.

Had a great evening with Sue and the boys in Baltimore on the 13th before heading back to Brooklyn early on the morning of the 14th. Got as far as Delaware; blowing through at a discreet 75; when I got stopped again! Same town, same cop.

Now, this is the part where I realized that while I may have left on my own the morning before, they still had my license. I explained this to the officer and he was surprisingly nice about it, stating that since he knew who I was, my lack of a license was not that big of a deal. We exchanged pleasantries and he gave me a ticket, for which I thanked him, then I drove away.

When I got home it was already about 9 AM. I called the Justice of the Peace; who laughed at me when I asked him to send me my license. He was serious about it, too. No way was he sending me my license. I was however free to come in and get it. So, I paid the new fine with a check by mail and switched to a different license while I got a duplicate one from whatever state I was using at the time.

Well, I think I have covered everything I mentioned at the beginning of this account. My mother dying; my promise to work for my Dad; my driving habits; a long distance romance with Sue; and a few other things as well. Amazing what memories comes back to you while going through old papers. That must be why I saved them.

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