Today’s Campaign Update
(Because The Campaign Never Ends)
Getting put in Facebook jail yesterday reminded me of the first time I got put into a real jail. It turned out to be the funniest moment of my life.
The Funniest Moment of My Life
So, I busted out of Facebook jail last night and then went right to bed ‘cuz I was sleepy. It was quite the 24-hour ordeal. Ok, it really wasn’t – it was actually kind of a relief if you want to know the truth. I actually got stuff done around the house for once.
That was not the funniest moment of my life, so don’t worry.
The funniest moment of my life was the first time I was in jail, which happened twice during my misspent youth. The second time was in the summer of 1974 when a buddy and I got arrested for streaking the parking lot at the Circle K store on St. Mary’s Street, but I’m not talking about that one, although it was all pretty funny, too. Maybe I’ll write about that incident in the future. Maybe.
But the first time I got tossed into the local lockup in my little South Texas hometown of Beeville was the night in early December, 1973 when I got arrested for running stop signs. I didn’t actually run the stop signs, but I got arrested for it because someone with a car that sadly looked like my rusted-out 1965 green Buick Le Sabre station wagon (my first car, which may Dad had bought from Wendell Duhon for $50 and a box of .44 magnum bullets) had apparently been running stop signs around town that early December Saturday night.
I knew I hadn’t run the stop signs because I had spent the evening at a party at the Segovias’ house – always great parties at the Segovias’ house, by the way. As luck would have it – and it was a rare stroke of luck in those days – I happened to be the only sober person at that particular party because I was taking pain medications because this party took place about a week after I had blown my knee out playing in our annual Thanksgiving Mud Bowl game on the band field at A.C. Jones High School.
So I couldn’t drink. Trust me, that was the only reason I didn’t also get charged with DWI that night, which would have made this story not funny at all.
Anyway, at about 11:30 I had gone out to the car to get something out of it – I don’t remember what exactly – and as I was about to head back to the party a police car screeched up and the police officer who I will not name because he was just doing his job ordered me to “assume the position!” Well, I watched Mannix and Hawaii Five-O, so I knew what that meant and did it.
As he was frisking me, the conversation went something like this:
“um, Officer, what’s going on?”
“You know what’s going on.”
“um, well, no, I really don’t.”
“Running stop signs – you know what you’ve been doing.”
“ummmm…see that party in that house over there? That’s what I’ve been doing.”
“Don’t bullshit me, son, I’ve been getting reports about this car all night.”
By this time, many of the party-goers had come out of the house to see what was going on, the sounds of the latest Led Zeppelin album pouring out the front door to awaken light-sleeping neighbors.
“Sir, if you would just ask any of those folks over there, they will tell you I’ve been here since about 6:00.” The Segovias liked to start their parties early in those days.
“Son, you just need to shut up before you really piss me off. Now, get in the back seat.”
And away we went. We got to the city jail, a small operation with a reception desk, a tiny waiting area and I think four small cells, three of which were empty. In the fourth, a very large man whose cheap-bourbon-and-vomit aroma wafted out to fill the entire facility, overpowering the otherwise omni-present smell of disenfectant, lay sleeping on the top bunk.
So of course, once they’d booked me in and figured out that they all knew my father very well, since he worked at the post office which was right next door to the jail, they decided to do the funny thing and tossed me into the cell with the drunk guy. Thankfully, he never batted an eye.
So here I am, 17 years old, never been in any real trouble in my life, no idea how I’m going to explain this all to my parents. Once I got used to the smell, I decided to just lie down on the bottom bunk and hope the drunk’s sweat didn’t leak down onto me.
After about an hour had gone by, just as I was about to nod off to sleep, I hear this voice coming through the small square window in the otherwise solid, grey cell door:
“Hey, Blackmon.” I look up to see the face of Zack Wright, a good friend who apparently had been appointed to be the spokesman by the 2-3 other wobbly friends standing there with him.
“Zack, what are you doing here?” I was worried because these guys were all underage, all pretty tipsy, and probably didn’t need to be hanging around the police station at that particular moment in their lives.
“Hey, we took up a collection at the party – we come to bail ya out!”
“Really? That’s great! How much money do you have?”
“We got, um, lessee here…39 dollars.”
Now, that was the funniest moment of my life, that moment when you find out that, even with such good friends doing their best to help you out of an absurd situation, you are well and truly screwed.
Anyway, I finally got my one phone call, and my poor sweet mother came and bailed me out. That cost $150, by the way, which is probably about $750 in today’s dollars. Which was real money to our family.
The next Monday, we went down and related the whole story to Kinkler Handley, one of the local attorneys who I think at the time was also the County Judge. He called the chief of police and informed him that, if this all went to trial, I’d have about 25 witnesses swearing that, not only had I been at that party all that evening, but I was the only one there who was purely sober.
It was literally the only time during my teenage years when I could have been made to look like an angel.
The charges were dropped that day, and Mom got her $150 back. I’m pretty sure the $39 that had been collected on my behalf went towards funding the next party at the Segovias’.
Life was a lot simpler in 1973.
That is all.
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