Looking back on a memorable career
Published 12:01 pm Saturday, February 28, 2009
As I neared retirement and having lots of stories to share, several people encouraged me to write a book. I liked the idea but it seemed that something would always side track me. I would give serious consideration then the urge would go away.
With the help of a couple folks that believe in me, we put some wheels in motion. Things haven’t gone well for me in the past few months as my loving wife has become ill. If you know Lavada, then you know how much I have been hurting. But besides being a devoted wife, she is my best friend and fan, and she insisted that we continue with the plans.
It is important to me that the stories are told and that I am free to be with my love. We will start with a condensed version, in a memoirs form.
Ma Bates was the first to talk to me about the book and give me enough material to fill a dozen books—most of which I could never share with anybody. Ma said, “Honey, we’ll write a book, but we’ll have to leave town—but we want it be fun”. Ma left me with lots of stories.
So, ya’ll hang on—don’t worry, they will delete most of the good stuff, but the old man remembers a lot! We’ll share a lot of laughs, tears and all in between. At anytime feel free to jump right in, the memoirs will be on www.clantonadvertiser.com, and you can share your thoughts. I’m sure there will be some stories about you!
As a new Alabama Water Patrol officer, I came to Clanton in January 1967 with two children, soon to be three. They brought lots of love, joy and pride to my life. Things were tough, not to mention the other state employees warned, “You won’t like it here; the people are not friendly.”
I found the direct opposite, in fact, and after a few months I knew I was home. I had a couple of opportunities for advancement that required moving, but I chose to stay and am still here.
Some of my friends kidded me, asking, “Are they really gonna pay you to do that?” I had wanted the job so bad that I would have payed them to let me work! In fact, it fell somewhere in between: My first paycheck was $399 a month!
I love to meet people and did lots of that, and I met some fine ones. One morning, I received a message that Mr. Jon Will Pitts wanted to see me in his office. We talked a lot—I was listening! He asked me, “Would you like to live on the lake in a house that the county was buying?” I couldn’t believe it! The conditions didn’t matter; I was desperate.
Another person that was very important to me and my job success was Mr. Bob Tucker, editor of the Chilton County News by letting me place some safety articles in his paper. With his encouragement, I began to write a weekly article for his paper. It came to me as advice to bring people news from the lake, safety tips and regulations, but, most importantly, it was means of communication. I could let people know who I was, what my job was and what I expected. At the same time, I wanted them to know I was sensitive to their problems but also could laugh with them.
This ran over a period of 20 years. Some fruits of my labors were: I was chosen Chilton County Most Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer four times running, once going on to be named as the state’s Most Outstanding Officer. I was asked one word that I credit this recognition to, and I was quick to say: “Communication!”
The absolute was to be reunited with the most outstanding person on earth at a time when I was the loneliest. Suddenly after 39 years, the Lord sent her to look after me. If you have met Lavada, you know what I mean. She’s why I do anything. I dedicate this to her and her love, devotion and patience.