Jiggers, it’s da cops! #MFRWauthor

After a week’s absence, I’m back for week 21 of the Marketing for Romance Writers blog hop. This week’s prompt is:

A Childhood Memory

My first thought was to write about the double date on which I met my wife-to-be (she was with the other guy), but I was sixteen, thus not truly a child. So let’s go with the first time I was hauled into a police station.

“Jiggers”, by Jay Norman. A humorous look at a small town police force.

I was around nine and basically innocent … but if you’re born into the wrong neighborhood you’re de facto guilty of having wild friends, of hailing from an immigrant family, of living and playing on the edges of industry.

“The policeman is your friend,” they taught us at school.  Well … maybe.

One day I tagged along with a gang of mostly older boys to have a Cowboys-and-Indians shootout with our toy guns.  We were all sorry when Albert got an accidental gash over his eye, requiring stitches, and even sorrier when the blood brought in the authorities.  We’d played in an abandoned warehouse, and we weren’t supposed to be there.

The police brought us into the station, one by one.  In university I took a class called Deviant Behavior, in which I learned that a prime determinant of whether ‘juvenile delinquents’ like me became criminals was that they were treated like criminals during their first encounter with the law.

That’s how I was treated.  Nine years old and terrified.  A policeman broke my toy rifle (not a BB gun) by slamming it repeatedly against a radiator.

Did I become a criminal?  No, thank God, though this wasn’t my last youthful brush with the law.  When I hear complaints about police brutality, my mind defaults to believing every word.  My wife, on the other hand, defaults to disbelieving.

I’ll bet you recognize this movie, right?

What about you?  What childhood memory (hopefully not as traumatic) stands out?

Click here to enter your link and/or check out the cool romance writers taking part in this blog hop.

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20 comments

  1. Somehow when I was a teen I got into a vehicle and the guys were all excited about getting beer. I didn’t drink, didn’t belong there but I was there with this big muscular guy from across town. How I survived, I don’t know. The good smart girl with a bunch of rowdy kids. I kept quiet, didn’t allow privileges and survived. How we grew up is a mystery. My parents never knew.
    As for you, you grew up just fine. You’re quite a guy, my friend.

    1. Substitute “boy” for “girl” in your sentence and you’ve described me: “good smart girl boy with a bunch of rowdy kids.” I always knew — heck, the other guys knew — that smarts were my ticket out of that neighborhood. In truth, though, it never came down to that, because as my dad’s health improved, we left such places behind.

  2. Sherry Lewis · · Reply

    My first time in a police station was when I was 3. I’d wandered away from my mom while she was shopping for fabric t JC Penney, got to ride a motorcycle to the police station, and ate a Popsicle while I was waiting for someone to claim me. A very different experience from yours. I can’t even imagine being 9 and frightened while some crazed-with-power police officer broke your gun. It must have been terrifying. So glad you ended up on the right side of the law!

    1. In all honesty, there was never (much) of a question of which side of the law I’d end up on. I had great parents and a strong home life that imbued middle-class ethics, although at that stretch of time, my dad’s health brought the family down. There were a couple times that I couldn’t avoid guilt by association.

  3. Ed, the juvenile delinquent! I would have never expected that of you. LOL I guess the ‘scared straight’ tactic worked for you and saved you from going down a life of crime.

    1. I was never really a juvenile delinquent (blush), but thank you.

  4. Oh, “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out, Ralphie!” Wow, Ed, that’s a scary memory but definitely one to stick with a person. You took the straight and narrow path, and they don’t all do that. Glad to see you posting this week.

    1. Playing with guns, even toy guns, has its perils. Most kids from neighborhoods like that — dicey but not out-and-out slums — turn out just fine. Children are amazingly resilient.

  5. Quite a history you have!
    I think for the most part it’s different for females. I know, I know, it doesn’t matter nowadays but I was raised in the baby boomer generation. I would probably tend towards your wife’s views myself. But then again, if you talk to my Uncle Julius or Paully, they would probably have a different tale to tell. Certain family names drew attention from the law regardless of what you had or had not done. Having said that, I guess it’s a good thing I married a Scot!

    1. My sister would look back on those times very differently, so maybe you’re right. And about ‘certain family names’ — I remember being glad, from time to time, that my dad was Belgian. Nobody knew any ethnic slurs about Belgians. 😉

  6. We went to my husband’s high school reunion last year. At the reunion, everyone compared notes on who went to prison for drugs and other crimes, who went to Vietnam, who came home, etc. My husband was in the second group and eventually went into law enforcement. But he grew up with guys who went to jail or died far too young.

    1. I bet your husband would treat a scared nine-year-old better!

  7. Geeze, talk about over-reacting. Sometimes I wonder what the cops are thinking.

    Glad all turned out well for you.

    1. I was kind of surprised while writing this by how angry I still am about the injustice of how I was treated. But maybe I’m overreacting, too.

  8. That’s so sad that you had that terrifying experience as a child.

    1. Thanks, Maureen. I’m sure every one of us has had scary experiences. I survived and thrived.

  9. Cathy Brockman · · Reply

    That’s a scary experience for a 9 year old but I am glad you didn’t end up a criminal. i was scared straight at a young age when they took us as Brownies to the police station that had the convicts tells us terrible stories and even locked us in cells. I went home in tears.

    1. Hey, even I didn’t get locked up. Were you an exceptionally naughty brownie? 😉

  10. That had to have been terrifying, Ed. I hope the cop was trying to do a “scared straight” thing, but you’ve got to wonder about his approach… I’m glad you had family support that kept you on the right side of the law!

    1. I have no idea what he was trying to do. If he’d done even a bit of detecting, he should’ve known I probably didn’t need scaring straight.

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