“There go ur car” #2
My permanent duty station in the Marines was Camp Le June, N.C. I was a tanker and belonged to the 2nd tank battalion, Charlie company. I was overseas for almost eight months. I saved all my pay I could. When I hit stateside, I wasted no time searching for a nice little car for transportation. Within a week I found her. It was love at first sight! She was a gold, 2-door, 1963 Ford Falcon Sprint. She was one of only 2500 manufactured. She came with a small V-8, 260 cubic inch engine and a four speed transmission. The V-8 Falcons were related to the Mustang. When the Mustang was created by Ford, they used the engine, transmission and chassis of the Falcon and covered it with the new Mustang body. I loved that little ride! I gave her to my brother a year later when I shipped out again. While I was stationed in Cuba the second time, Rayburn (Bubba) McGaha, my older brother and a Marine, totaled her near the main gate of his base. I almost cried when he wrote me about it. Oh well, at least he was not hurt in the crash. On my current bucket list is a clean little ’63 Falcon Sprint. As you can see, I have unfulfilled issues.
I hired on to the Shreveport Police Department same time as L.L. He was immediately a close friend. He too had been raised in Cedar Grove, the rich side as we called it back then. He lived in a nice little brick home with air conditioning near Woodlawn High School. I lived in the poor section east of the K.C.S. railroad tracks on E. 72nd Street. We were rookies. L.L. and I were assigned to single person units in Cedar Grove. We hit the streets that hot summer day at 1:00 p.m. As soon as we informed headquarters we were now in our beat, we each received calls to work. L.L. was dispatched to a family fight in the 500 block of E. 74th. His backup officer was worthless and always late for his calls. He rode Spring Lake and hated making calls in the ghetto of Cedar Grove. I knew this. I was tied up on an accident at Fairfield and E. 70th. I really wanted this dud to make the wreck report I was assigned while I made the family fight with L.L. Unfortunately when I made that request, my big, dumb sergeant said, “No. Make your report and get back in service!”
I was flagging traffic in the middle of the street around the undriveable car involved in the wreck. I waited impatiently for a stinking wrecker to arrive at my location. L.L. was on my mind the entire time. I knew most cops were killed in the line of duty on domestic violence calls. I listened closely to my talkie for L.L. in case he called for back up again meaning his had not yet responded. I knew if he called for help, I would hop in my unit and blast to his location four city blocks away.
Sure enough he called for help! His backup officer was still a long distance from the call. I heard the frantic call for assistance of L.L. over my police talkie. I heard L.L. running as he broadcast the vital information. He had entered the shotgun shack alone. As L.L. stepped on the front porch, he quickly overpowered the suspect and handcuffed him. He learned the son of the lady of the house had beaten her and taken her monthy Welfare check. He placed the suspect in the rear seat of his unit and went back to the front porch. Since the temperature was over 100 degrees, L.L. left the engine running and A.C. blowing. He took signed charges from the mother of the suspect for simple battery.
In the late 70’s, the Shreveport Police department did not equip our patrol units with the protective screens you commonly see in modern day police vehicles. L.L. was on the porch looking down and writing. Meanwhile the suspect slipped his cuffed hands from his lower back, down the back of his knees and stepped his feet through the loop. He crawled over the the back of the front seat and slid down behind the steering wheel. He slammed the shifter in drive and took off. L.L. looked up and bolted off the porch. He chased his police unit on foot westbound on E. 74th Street. He grabbed his talkie and began yelling the details. He informed headquarters his police unit had been stolen. It was being driven by the arrested male suspect. Soon L.L. stopped in the middle of the street realizing it was futile to chase his unit on foot. It turned northbound on Southern Avenue disappearing from sight.
I left my accident scene and drove west on E. 70th trying to intercept the stolen police unit. I spotted L.L.’s unit as it turned onto E. 70th in a westerly direction. I hammered my Chevy Impala with its powerful 454 V-8 and flipped on my red lights and siren to full blast as I gave chase. I had never chased a police unit before. It was a strange feeling. The suspect figured out all the knobs and switches on the dash of his stolen police car and flipped on his red lights and siren as well. He zipped through intersections. It was a miracle he did not hit anyone. We shot through the major intersections of 70th and Linwood, Mansfield Road, Jewella and soon were doing over 100 mph as we skirted the south boundary of the Shreveport Regional airport. I continued to tell headquarters and other street officers of our direction of travel and speeds.
L.L. stood in the middle of W. 74th and stomped his feet in frustration. He was sick and angry at himself for allowing this. He looked up as he heard the sound of an oncoming vehicle. Thinking quickly L.L. stood in the path of the car approaching him and held up his hand for it to stop. The driver was a young man and did as instructed. L.L. rushed to the driver side and yanked open the door. He forced the driver to move over to the passenger side of the front seat and got behind the wheel of his commandeered vehicle.
He slammed the gear shifter into drive and floored the gas pedal of the black, 1963 Ford Falcon. Unfortunately for L.L., unlike my little hot rod Falcon with a V-8, L.L.’s was a very common Falcon. His came with a tiny sewing machine size four cylinder engine. The car was jacked up with springs on the rear axle. It looked fast but with the tiny little motor was a piece of crap. It smoked and hissed as L.L. pushed the weak little thing along the streets heading in my direction. During the chase, the young man constantly complained to L.L. about taking his car. He wanted out. L.L. was in a hurry so would not stop to allow it. The young man yelled at L.L. as he blasted through red traffic signals and dodged cars that had the right of way. He complained that L.L. was going to blow up his engine. L.L. yelled for him to shut up.
A roadblock was quickly set up by officer Ronald Dean, another friend and classmate in my academy class. He was a Naval Vietnam Vet and a cool dude. He drove a Corvette Stingray off duty and was known far and wide as being a playboy. Ron parked his car just short of the intersection of Buncombe Road blocking both lanes of W. 70th. I slowed as we approached the roadblock. The suspect did not see it until it was too late. It appeared the suspect would hit Ron’s unit. He swerved missing Ron’s unit and crashed into a deep ditch. The stolen police unit slammed nose first on the far side of the ditch totaling the unit. The suspect was knocked out momentarily. Ron and I drug him from the car. I heard brakes squealing. I saw L.L. jettison from a jacked up Ford Falcon. Smoke boiled through the front grill from the engine as it coughed and sputtered to its death. L.L. had blown the engine. The owner stood with his hands to his face shaking his head. The Shreveport Police department eventually bought him another cheap ride to replace his Falcon. Did I mention I love Falcons?
L.L. placed the suspect in the rear seat of Ron’s unit. He made sure Ron had the keys in his pocket. He waited for the police wrecker to recover his totaled police car.
I was finally relieved of my nickname thanks to my fellow officers. It was transferred to L.L. From that moment on, L.L. was no longer called “Lightning “. He was now “There go ur car!”
I went back to my beat and finished my accident report. Needless to say, the citizens were not happy I abandoned them. I took my verbal reprimand from my dumb sergeant. I thought of the fun I would have late that night as I drank a cold beer at choir practice with my buddies. L.L. would surely be there. Boy was I going to rub in his new nickname.