Travels with Dad
—-This is a story of a complex relationship with my father, Al, who I came to love and understand after he was diagnosed with dementia.—-
Al was discharged form the Air Force in 1954. With the GI Bill, he had a plan. He enrolled in college. There was a problem. He didn’t have a car, and he lived 50 miles away from the classroom. So, he hitch hiked, EVERY DAY! On many occasions, divine intervention interceded in the transportation department. Monseigneur Kelly, who Al knew from St. Mary’s High School, would be driving along, see Al, pull over, move over, and let Al drive the rest of the way. Monseigneur hated to drive. It was a win-win situation for Al and the clergy man.
This educational pursuit only lasted for 2 years. He dropped out. He began floundering again. His older brother Guy was a cop in their home town. So, Al decided to join the ranks of the State Police, and signed up for duty. He was a shoe-in for the academy because of his Air Police training. Soon, he was toting a gun and a badge, wearing an official uniform, and providing law and order in the town of Malone, a rural farm town in northern NY.
Although Al enjoyed the open space, he was disillusioned when he was the given the title of “designated officer” in an “escaping cows” incident. The assignment unfolded in front of a line of on-lookers. Al was chasing these cattle with the intent to get them back where they belonged, when he slipped and fell face first in a mud hole. His pressed, pristine uniform was dripping with slime, and his ego was badly bruised. He was very disillusioned.
More importantly and fundamentally, he had an issue with being expected break the law. The officers he worked with encouraged each other to drive 90 miles an hour to get a haircut….just because they could. Al thought it was an unnecessary and asinine risk! He lasted about a year with the Boys in uniform. He quit.