I hope you have finished all your shopping for Thanksgiving. I won’t even drive by a supermarket tomorrow or Thursday morning, as that would be begging for frustration. Instead, I think I’ll share a Thanksgiving story with you. (The moral of this story is “not all cops take holidays”).
The year was 1989 (or 1988). Seriously, who can remember those kinds of details anyway? I woke up “late” on Thanksgiving morning after spending the majority of the previous evening at the Midway Tap in Kewanee, Illinois with co-workers from S&W Associates. We made balloons at that factory. Although that fact has nothing whatsoever to do with THIS story, I think it is interesting enough to be worth mentioning.
After a quick shower, I grabbed my backpack of clothes, a package of strawberry pop-tarts, and a couple cans of Coke- hitting the road to my grandparents’ house right at 9:30 am. I was facing a 2.5 hour drive to Versailles, Illinois, which would get me there right around noon. I figured I could make up enough time to guarantee that I would not arrive late if I took a couple of blacktop roads I was familiar with. It has always been surprising how minimally some of those roads are traveled in America’s heartland… especially given that they are oftentimes aligned straight as an arrow.
Nevertheless, I settled behind the wheel of my 76 Ford Torino with my hangover as co-pilot. We made excellent time, listening to Neil Young, Pink Floyd, and Arlo Guthrie on the tape deck, and portions of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on the AM radio. The only time I took my hands off the wheel was to primp my mullet in the manner that only a person who has had a mullet (or HAS one… or WILL have one) can understand.
About 10 miles from my grandparents’ village limits, I glanced at the clock and discovered that I was going to arrive with a full 30 minutes to spare. I barely had time to get excited about that when I noticed a car pull into range of my rear view mirror. Yeah, it was a cop, and his flashing lights indicated that he had something of importance to discuss with me.
If you’ve been pulled over before, you can pretty much imagine how the next several minutes passed. If you’ve never been pulled over for speeding, well, what on earth are you waiting for?
A $52 fine later, I arrived at my grandparents’ house directly at noon. The entire family was already there. No time was wasted parking since the kids normally played basketball in the driveway after eating, and the adults had been trained that they wouldn’t have to go outside and move the cars if they parked along the curb before hand. I entered the house right as my grandfather was putting the finishing touches on his apple salad, which he more or less made specifically for me. With everyone talking at once, I immediately forgot about the speeding ticket, and to be honest, was relieved to not have to think about it- or explain the event to my family.
Possibly the worst thing about family gatherings are the inevitable drop-in visitors. Several hours after dinner, we were playing cards when the doorbell rang. It was my grandmother’s second cousin stopping by for a chat, a cup of coffee, and a wedge of punkin’ pie. I swear, the woman hadn’t even gotten her coat off when she asked who owned the green car. (Okay, my Torino was green. Do you find some sort of pleasure in knowing that?)
When everyone looked in my direction, she added that she and her busybody husband had seen my car pulled over by the county police earlier in the day when they were driving back from visiting her friend in the nursing home in Quincy. Obviously at that point, I had some ‘splaining to do, and endured a considerable amount of ribbing.
And that is my story of the Thanksgiving of 1989. Or was it 1988?
Now if you don’t mind, I need to get back to designing my NEW website. Stop by and check it out when your boss isn’t looking!