In todays Journal Star, Andrew Nelson writes about one man's crusade to show his appreciation for the front line civil servants of the Lincoln community. His efforts have culminated in a dinner in their honor.
B.C. "Bob" McAtee wanted to do something for the police officers as a way of saying thank you for their years of service. His inspiration was the "cop on his block" in the late 1940's Former Lincoln Police Officer, and now sadly deceased, Dick Miller.
Dick Miller sounds like every kids cop, or at least the kind of cop every kid should have in his/her life. I remember mine, I just wish I could remember his name. As kids, in the summertime, after morning chores we would head out from our respective homes and meet up with our .22 rifles and fishing poles. Our sojourns along the creek included fishing, getting wet, and pot shooting tin cans or squirrels in season. In the fall with shotguns sans fishing poles we would jump shoot ducks and geese. The creek meandered into and along the edge of town. When we got that far we trapsed over to the general store for a cola and a candy bar. No one gave a second thought to four or five, twelve to fourteen year old kids moseying up the store carrying guns.
Pop and a candy bar only a nickel each
In the store the guns, fishing poles and creels were stashed in the corner and we'd plunk dimes down for a bottle of pop and our choice of chocolate.
Cops, kids and guns
It also wasn't unusual for the State Trooper assigned to that area to either be there or stop in for a patrol break. When we were ready to go or when the clerk gave the trooper the secret high sign (ed ...just speculation on my part) that we'd been around long enough, the Trooper would open up his patrol car and all us guys would stow our rods and rifles in the trunk of his car and pile in the seats. Stopping off at each house in turn our policeman friend would get out open the trunk so a gun and fishing pole could be retrieve, if there was parents or any other family around the trooper waved or spent a few moments talking to a Dad.
When all of us local "miscreant" youths had been safely delivered back to our respective folds the Trooper would resume his patrol patterns and we would get to doing the afternoon chores, "If'n we wanted any dinner".
A Norman Rockwell moment
As it was in "Bob" McAtee's and Dick Millers day it was a different time. Everybody knew or knew about everybody else in the county and it didn't scare people to see a few country boys wandering around carrying guns. They never thought twice about it, it just made sense, it was part of the scenery.
That Trooper was my boyhood cop, we trusted him because we knew he really cared, we knew he was there for us, not against us. We knew it, not because we were told that, we knew it because we could feel it. That Trooper trusted us to do right. Not a single one of us would have risked being ostrisized by our own little band or dissappointing that cop and the trust he had in us, by doing something we knew was wrong. It just wasn't going to happen. He was our friend and you didn't turn you back on your friends. You just didn't.
I just wish I could have known Dick Miller too. I wish I could remember that Troopers name.
I know there are hundreds of thousands of Dick Millers out there, I don't know them, I only know of the profound effect one State Trooper had on this boy's life.
My sincere heartfelt "Thank you Officers" as well
In a time when police officers seldom hear the "Thank You Officer" that they so richly deserve for the good things they do, "Bob" McAtee puts on a dinner for them. Thank you Mr. McAtee what a wonderful heartwarming idea. My best wishes go to "Bob" and all of the attendees that evening may the warmth of your gathering be felt all over the city.