It was a hot summer afternoon in 1971, and I was a 22-year-old undercover narcotics officer in the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, with a year and a half on the job. I was also a former US Army Ranger with a year in Vietnam. We were in Detroit’s east side, getting ready to make a raid.
I love doughnuts! Especially big cream-filled ones covered with powdered sugar. And that’s exactly what I was having, while chatting with Joe Porcarelli, the owner of Amy Joy Donuts on Michigan Avenue in Dearborn, when I glanced outside and saw a raggedy blue Chevy with a defective brake light pull up next to my scout car.
I had worked this location before as an undercover narcotics officer on a motorcycle. It wasn’t difficult to find people selling marijuana, LSD, or heroin. Overdoses weren’t all that uncommon in the park. Neither were gang rapes. It was the early 1970s, and the drug culture was in full swing, with violent crime and property crime soaring nearly fivefold in the past ten years. People from my age group were self-destructing every day.
Every year, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department’s Patrol and Investigation Division put over a hundred thousand hard miles on each of its cars. It wasn’t uncommon for a car to work nonstop from shift to shift. Exposed to all weather conditions as well as high-speed chases, sudden braking, and roads that varied from frozen dirt ruts to interstate highways, our vehicles served as the ideal test cars for the Motor City’s auto industry. And so each year, along with the many cars and utility vans they sold to the department, the Chrysler Corporation and Ford Motor Company donated dozens of scout cars.
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.