I was born with a streak of devil in me. When talking about me, that’s what I’ve heard some folks say. When it comes right down to it, I guess I fit into that stereotype of the typical Preacher’s kid. Hurting anyone is the last thing I want to do, but I sure do love to keep those around me on their toes and to watch them smile.
I was raised with tenderness. My father was a Methodist Preacher and when my younger brother and I were growing up, we moved around a lot … All over Eastern North Carolina. We learned how to make new friends. We learned how to love and trust each other.
I matured slowly. Surely, some folks think I’ve never grown up. After barely making it through Bath High School, I goofed off at Louisburg College for a couple of years and although my teachers and professors were all pretty good, I focused my attention on learning how to smoke, play ping-pong, shoot pool and enjoy the taste of beer.
Here came Viet Nam. What were we doing over there? … Even I smelled a rat. My name was moving up to the top of the draft, so I enlisted in the Army Security Agency for four years to keep from going there. Instead, I spent time in Asmara, Ethiopia as an MP. The climate was good and I didn’t get shot at. Basically, I was a glorified Security Guard who worked the Front Gate a lot. When my four years were up, I got out.
The North Carolina State Highway Patrol accepted me in 1969. I was stationed in Gastonia for about six years and then moved to Charlotte. I stayed there until I retired in 1995. It was a very colorful career and that’s what I’m now writing about.
While still working as a Trooper, I took advantage of the GI Bill. I started taking classes when I was off-duty at the Charlotte satellite of Pfeiffer College. Uncle Sam paid for most of it and I got a BA in Criminal Justice. This time I did better in school. This time I made mostly “A’s”. It was easier now. I knew what I wanted. I was more focused.
Early on, I decided to remain a Trooper and not seek advancement. I decided I didn’t want to put my family through all the moving around that I’d been through as a child and besides, I enjoyed working the road … It just felt right. Why should I open a new can of worms?
When I look at pictures of my ancestors, I can’t help but wonder … What were their lives like? What did they do with their time? Did they have hard times? Did they have fun?
I’ve never written much of anything before, but for years, I’ve wanted to write about my experiences. Time is slipping up on me and I’m not getting any younger. Finally, my life has calmed down some. My children are grown. I’m not married now, again. There aren’t as many distractions, but I enjoy physical labor and playing. Although I enjoy working outside a lot, lately, I’ve spent a lot of time writing. Now that I’ve finally started this project, I know how I am … I’ll stay with it until I’ve got this thing done.
For me, writing has been very therapeutic, but it wasn’t relaxing or easy. I’ve had to fight with every word. As I wrote, I found myself laughing, crying, and even pounding on my desk in anger. To place the reader in my shoes and see from my perspective has been a major objective, and I’ve tried to be as candid about my own shortcomings as I was with those of others.
In my opinion, a Trooper gets to live life to its fullest. It’s a very powerful position and one of the greatest ego trips one can take. With every incident we encounter comes a different stress or emotion. But many times, we hide them. We’re not perfect, but because we’re the “Showcase of North Carolina,” we strive to leave that impression. As a stress reliever, I chose to pull pranks on those unfortunate enough to be around me … And pull them I did. I’ve had such a colorful career with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol and loved it so much that I wanted to share it. But it all began because I wanted my children and those coming after me to know me better, to have my honest recollections, and to have something concrete to remember me by.
Yes, I’ve been blessed with a good life and I want those following me to know. Join me. Look over my shoulder as I relate my experiences for them.