THINKING BACK (renamed, because I have no confidence in my spelling of the word "reminiscing") .....by Bob Smith 
Friday, April 5, 2013, 09:43 PM
Posted by Administrator
I was talking to my niece, Caitlin Boylan, this evening, about her brother, my nephew, having to write a family history. He had sent me an email asking me about his mother, when she was younger. I suggested he call me on the phone. So far, no call.

Here is a story I might tell him.

Once upon a time North of Boulder, Colorado, I was riding with his mother in my blueish-green Ford Econoline van. It was the first car I ever owned. I bought it with $1,500 bribed from my parents when I suggested to my mother that I might stay for a second year of college...if I had a car. The Econoline had two seats in front, a three-on-a-tree manual transmission (the shifter jutted out of the steering column) and a platform bed in back---a pretty good job of platform bed construction, likely the handiwork of the van's original owner.

It was the summer of '71 or '72 and my sister had decided to take some summer courses at the University of Colorado at the same time I had decided to spend the summer living 30 miles South, in Denver. I had driven North from Denver to pick her up for a day trip and we were driving towards Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park which begins on the edge of Estes. Since it was the 70's, we were smoking a joint.

A few miles North of Boulder I saw the blue lights of a Colorado Highway Patrol car in my side view mirror. I pulled over. In keeping with Standard-Operating-Procedure in the 70's for traffic stops while your car smelled of pot, I exited the van and walked back to the van's rear bumper to wait for the trooper.

So, here I was...a teenager (I was 17) with shoulder length hair who smelled of pot...waiting by the bumper of his pot-smoke-filled van for the Colorado State Police. I do not remember being nervous.

After a moment, the trooper...looking very tall and stern... walked over and said to me...in a serious tone: "You need to take the FOR SALE sign out of the van's rear window. You're not allowed to block your view to the rear with a FOR SALE sign." Now, though it requires that I dredge back into the far-long-ago-never-reaches of my memory, looking backward through the hazy-fog-of-time, it is my firm recollection that I responded as follows:

"Okay."

I got back in the van, hunched under the low roof and shuffled to the back and took the FOR SALE sign out of the window. Then, my sister and I continued our drive to Estes and the park.

These day, police go to police school to learn how to turn a traffic stop into an arrest. The driver is instructed to stay in the car so the cop has an excuse to come up to the driver's window and can look for contraband in the car....search within the driver's arm's reach for weapons....demand IDs from the passengers to run them for arrest warrants. Cops learn that a traffic stop is the opportunity to solve a larger crime and to arrest big criminals.

Back the 70's traffic stops were about something else...like giving traffic tickets. Or, for the trooper who stopped me North of Boulder, getting me to take the FOR SALE sign out of the van's window.

Editor's Note: Bob Smith is a retired South Florida lawyer who now makes his home a few hundred miles North of Boulder, in Northern Wyoming. He writes for the blog mostly from one of the 9 Tim Hortons Donut shops in Medicine Hat, Alberta.
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