“A father’s goodness is higher than the mountain, and a mother’s goodness deeper than the sea.”—Japanese Proverb
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I did something dumb a few days ago.
That’s not a news flash and certainly not uncommon enough to warrant a column. Moreover, it was a second thought that motivated this missive.
“What would your daddy think?” No words got my attention quicker as a youngster.
I watched an old movie a while back. About some young boys caught throwing rocks at windows. I smiled, not at young brats throwing rocks, but at how the officer dealt with them.
The boys denied their actions and showed little fear until the officer said, “OK boys, let’s go.”
“What,” they laughed? “You taking us to jail?”
“No,” said the policeman. “Worse than that. I’m taking you home to your parents.”
I related. Nothing was more difficult for me as a kid than facing my father and seeing the disappointment in his eyes for some bone-headed thing I had done. Far more painful than any adequately applied paddle to my backside.
My father was friends with then Mount Pleasant Police Chief B.C. Sustaire when I was growing up. Chief Sustaire was of the law enforcement era when a higher percentage of parents taught their children to respect authority. It was also a time when society allowed officers of the law to temper strict law enforcement with a dose of common sense when the latter better served the circumstances.
That’s what prevailed one fall mid-60s night when a trio of Mount Pleasant teenagers decided fun could be defined as mischief with a few water balloons. However, that fun began to go south when the trio lobbed water-laden projectiles at what they thought was a friend’s car.
Perfect strike. The brake lights on the big white Oldsmobile lit up as the car whirled around and gave chase. Fortunately for these kids, the new Olds was no match for the old hot rod Ford they were cruising in that night.
We were still laughing a half hour later when flashing red lights filled the rear-view mirror.
Laughter was lackluster when we learned that it wasn’t our friend we had water bombed, but a well-known local businessman who was scared out of his wits when the projectiles exploded on his car’s windshield. And hopping mad.
Feigning innocence of knowing anything about water balloons, we accepted the officer’s gracious invitation to follow him downtown to meet with the police chief. It’s was one thing to get summoned to the station at night, but it was another when the chief was called to leave home at night and come downtown.
Chief Sustaire’s questions were precise, but in the second lapse of good judgment in one night, we offered what we thought to be a convincing argument of innocence. “It must have been someone else in a car similar to ours,” we pleaded.
The chief listened silently, then let us go with a warning. “You boys get on home—it’s too late for you to be out riding around.”
Looking back, he likely knew we were being less than truthful with him. But tempering circumstances with common sense, he also knew our fate at home would be far more memorable than any policeman’s reprimand.
Sure enough, I had a message waiting for me the next day after school. “Your father wants to talk to you—now.” When I arrived at Perry Brothers, where he worked, he calmly said, “Let’s take a walk.”
A block down the street, I broke the silence. “Where we going?”
“Just around the corner,” he said. A block north of the five-and-dime store on Jefferson Street and around the corner led to an intersection where the post office, the Baptist Church, and an optometrist’s office occupied three corners. City hall and the police station sat on the fourth. Even I was smart enough to figure out we weren’t headed for any of the first three places.
I stood quietly in the police chief’s office as my father and Mr. Sustaire exchanged a handshake and pleasantries. Then, after a few seconds that seemed like an eternity, my daddy looked at me and said, “Now, I want you to tell Chief Sustaire what happened last night, one more time. This time, I want to hear it, too.”
Suffice it to say I sang a different song when grilled under the bright lights. My dad was not a tall man, stood just a few inches more than five feet. B.C. Sustaire was just the opposite; tall and broad shouldered. At least that’s how I saw them back then.
I was nearing six feet tall by the time I was a sophomore in high school. Still, I was the smallest person in the room that day as I confessed and apologized for my behavior and dishonesty.
Chief Sustaire was very gracious, thanking me for my honesty in admitting wrong doing. He knew justice would be served because he also knew I respected my father—who was somewhat less benevolent once we got home.
My dad has been gone for almost 18 years now. But even today, every time I do something that begs the question, “What was I thinking,” there’s also that voice that asks … “What would your daddy think?”
(Photo above: The Mount Pleasant, Texas, City Hall, and Police Station next door, on Madison Street at the intersection of Third Street during what I’m judging, from the cars, to be the 1950s. It looked pretty much the same the night I got to visit there in the 1960s.)
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Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune, the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, the Alpine Avalanche, The Fort Stockton Pioneer, and The Monitor in Naples.
© Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided full and clear credit is given to Leon Aldridge and ‘A Story Worth Telling’ with appropriate and specific directions to the original content.
One thought on “What would your daddy think”
While in high school I would go home for lunch every day and passed within a block of chiefs Susstairs home . I would be driving my 41 Chevrolet with split manifold and straight exhaust, making it Bello as loud as I could.
One day he got up from his lunch and went and chased me down. He said I have to listen to this everyday while trying to eat my lunch . He said if you did this one more time I’m going to tell your dad Bob about it.