Several times we have heard people tell how they have been verbally abused or mistreated by smart acting Highway Patrolmen, and we have also seen TV shows that depict the Patrolman as an ogre who is not concerned with the welfare or the problems of the motorist. We have been stopped several times, for various reasons, and have never yet encountered an oficer who was anything but courteous and considerate, especially when we asked for advice or help.
During our first trip West, with the Holiday Trailer, we passed through New Orleans late one afternoon and started south because we wanted to see the Bayou Country of Louisiana. Immediately after leaving the city, we started looking for a campground and it was about that same time that light rain began to fall. We kept on going and it kept on raining, then it started to get dark, and still no campground. Finally it got real dark and if you have ever driven in that country, in the day time, you know that it is no place for a neophyte trailer puller, in the dark and in the rain. The only thing that I could see, on the road side, was a very narrow shoulder between the paving and a wide, water filled ditch.
After thirty five or forty miles of nothing but narrow road, wide ditches and rain with no campgrounds or Motels, I pulled off to the side of the road, in a small village, to try to figure out what could be done. We had barely come to a stop when a Highway Patrolman drove up in back of us. He came to our car and asked if we needed any help. I inquired about campgrounds and he told me that he knew of none, but why didn’t we spend the night right where we were. I didn’t like that idea because we were so close to the roadway and there was no room to get farther away from it.
The Officer then suggested that we go on, for another four miles, to the State Police Post, and tell the officer in charge what our problem was, and that he would take care of us. I thanked him and he followed us until we turned into the Post. I went in and did as the officer had told me, and the Desk Sergeant came out, into the rain, and directed me into a spot, under a security light, in their parking lot. He told me that if there was anything that we needed, during the night, we should just let them know.
Neither Officer asked me for a driver’s license or a registration, nor did they do any of the things that TV Patrolmen do. I think that in many cases the TV shows give a wrong impression of what we have found to be a concerned and dedicated group of public servants.
On another occasion, we were in the desert country, north of Tularosa, New Mexico, on a return trip from Arizona, when part of the tread of one of the pick-up tires came off, with a terrible clatter. I got over to the side of the highway, and again, we had hardly stopped when a Highway Patrolman came along. The tire could still be driven on but neither the officer nor I felt safe about it.
When I asked, how far it was to the nearest place that we could buy a new tire, he said that it was eleven miles in the direction that we were going and that it was seventeen miles, in the direction that we had come from. I decided to go the long way because that was a larger city, and I might stand a better chance of getting a tire like I needed. When the Officer stressed that I should drive slowly, I said that I was afraid that I might be a hazard to other drivers and, perhaps, I should put on my spare tire. He told me that I should not be concerned because he would follow right behind us.
We drove the seventeen miles, back to Tularosa, with a State Police escort, complete with flashing Gum Ball Machine. I drove into a Standard Oil Filling Station, he followed us in, called the attendant by name, and said “these folks need a new tire” and drove off before I could thank him. Incidentally, the above event took place on the return trip following Louise’s heart surgery, which further proves my point. The officer didn’t know that. A strange thing about that tire incident was that it happened within just a few miles of a little village called “Three Rivers”.