It’s been over a month, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of your father.* I didn’t know Ed was sick until nearly the end, when Officer Skidmore told me. Now, whenever I’m running along a road, I still half expect to see that black pickup pull over, and Ed jump out with his usual swagger and smile, hollering, “Hey, Iceman!” God knows how many times he did that and we’d just talk right there on the roadside. Ed was always upbeat and funny, and he’d often say we needed to get together. And I would always put it off for another day because I was busy with college, writing my book, or doing some other “pressing” thing. Now it’s too late, and I’m truly sorry for that.
I’m writing to you just to share some thoughts about Ed. I worked with your dad in the scout car for a number of years at the Sheriff’s Road Patrol. I thought I knew him, but I realize I never knew what a wonderful family he had: three smart, beautiful daughters and so many friends—all a testament to the man he was.
I remember working Hines Park with Ed. This was decades ago, when the Vietnam War was still raging and the park was thick with drug users. There were thousands of them and few of us. Cass Benton Hill in Northville was one of their hangouts, and on any hot summer night, it was always simmering with activity. Unwilling to wait for backups to break up the crowd, Ed and I devised a scheme. We’d park our car in an apartment complex behind the hill, grab a couple of flares from the trunk, and walk through the woods to the back side of the hill. Concealed in the bushes on top, we’d look down and see hundreds of people and smell a cloud of marijuana smoke as the music blared from boom boxes and car stereos below.
Studying the group, Ed said, “Iceman, you come in from the left as I swing in from the right.”
“Okay, Radar,” I said. “Soon as I see your flare.”
When I saw that red glow I lit my flare, and we’d go charging down the hill with outstretched arms, holding a flashlight in one hand and a flare in the other and yelling fake radio commands: “Sergeant Slaughter, bring in the cars!” “Get the bus to the bottom of the hill!” “Get the dogs out!” The crowd, seeing us suddenly charge down on them, thought they were being raided by two groups of cops. Panicked, they hightailed it to their cars and sped off, leaving behind drugs, paraphernalia, beer, and an occasional sandal or eight-track tape.
Once we chased away the stragglers, Ed and I stood at the foot of the hill, howling with laughter and feeling like giants. We then made our way back to our car, trashing whatever they left behind—except for the beer, of course—which we kept for later. We did that a dozen times or more, but nobody seemed to catch on—they must have been pretty stoned, all right.
At the south end of Hines Park, near Detroit, was another drive called Nolar Bend, where dopers also congregated. Ed and I would pull into that drive at night and always find people spaced out. As we approached the crowd, empty beer and Boone’s Farm wine bottles started smashing against our car. Because there were so many people and because we couldn’t put our car out of service for every idiot and every bag of grass we found, Ed would make whoever was being the biggest pain in that moment give us his ID. Studying it carefully, he’d do a warrant check and hand back the ID, saying, “Okay, go stand in front of our car so we can take your picture with our infrared camera.”
Once the doper was there he’d holler, “Now, hold your license under your chin, and don’t move or we’re gonna do this all over again!”
“Stand still!” Ed repeated, turning our fender-mounted red-and-white spotlight around so the red light faced the druggie, and then quickly flicking it on and off.
“Okay, your picture’s in our system! If you ever get stopped in Wayne County again, we’re not gonna let you go; we’re gonna arrest your stupid ass! You got that?”
“Uh, yeah . . . thanks a lot, man,” the doper said, dashing off.
By the way, Ed got the name “Radar” when he worked the scout car, not when we worked narcotics. He had a rich imagination, so to eliminate disputes with speeding drivers, he’d say, “We got you on radar going over the limit. Let me see your license and registration.” Yet we never had radar in our car. And if he thought the driver had drugs, he’d say, “You got any drugs in there, or do I gotta get my drug-sniffing dog out?” I think Ed did that to make me laugh. Because of that, I gave him a field promotion and called him “Corporal Radar.”
Your dad was a great cop and a wonderful guy. I will always remember him and will keep expecting to see his pickup pull over on the road again when I’m out running.
The enclosed lyrics are from a song by Enya titled, “If I Could Be Where You Are.” If you hear it, I’m sure the words will make you cry. But that’s okay. There are people worth crying for.
Your father is certainly one of those people.
My best always,