It was Friday December 13, 1974. At the time I was sharing a home in Huntington Station NY with five other young men, all killing time and seeking direction.
That December morning my brother asked if I would follow him the Kennedy airport to drop off his car. Our father was employed by TWA and at his age my brother still enjoyed the benefit of free air travel. This afforded him the opportunity to make extra cash by ferrying cars to Florida for little old ladies from Queens. In this case it was also a little old lady with a penchant for flashy cars, this one was a new powder blue Dodge Charger. Needless to say it was really a sweet ride and more than enough excuse to drive to the airport and back.
It was the case for us, that like most young men we showed an all too prevalent lack of common sense. What that meant in this case was that we couldn’t make a sixty minute drive there and back without at least a half an ounce of pot.
All was well until we were only a few miles from home, cruising north on the Seaford Oyster Bay Expressway, six lanes of concrete running north and south across Long Island that was generally deserted. As this was the time of the “gas Crisis” the national speed limit had been lowered to 55, which is not nearly fast enough for two stoned twenty somethings and a powder blue Charger.
I saw him coming down the entrance ramp as I cruised along in the left hand lane. That clinching in my guts the instant I saw him told me it was too late. A moment later the flashing red lights came on and I began slowing down and moving toward the shoulder. For the next couple of minutes things went about as expected, although I had never had a ticket before.
License and registration please. That’s when the narrative took a sudden left hand turn, we didn’t have the registration, my brother had forgotten to get it when he picked up the car. With the cop looking in the window and the dome light on my brother set about rummaging through the glove compartment, in search of the missing registration, throwing paperwork, maps and odds and ends up on the dashboard as he went. It’s worth noting at this point that we had been smoking dope in a regular tobacco pipe, which now surfaced in the glove compartment. My brother, without a seconds hesitation simply added it to the pile on the dashboard. No registration…..
After an extended explanation of car transport and airline passes he took my license and went back to his car to discuss our fate with his partner.
In the mean time my brother decided that the plastic container filled with pot should be somewhere other than his pocket. His solution was to put it under the seat or the floor mat in the back seat, so while looking straight ahead he reached his arms behind the seat, wherein, the top immediately fell off the container dumping it’s contents in a neat pile right in the middle of the floor.
It was bitterly cold that night, the car was turned off, the window open throughout our conversation with the police, we were freezing. I was dying to have a cigarette, but there was the matter of the pipe to consider, maybe I better not, I wanted to start the car but afraid that I would get shot in a perceived escape attempt… so we sat, teeth chattering, waiting for the axe to fall…
The arrival of the cop at the window, stating that they hadn’t been able to reach the woman that owned the car, was followed by, “OK lock up the car.”
That was it, we were totally screwed….
Then the voice of an angel, well actually it was the voice of the other officer, shouting that he had gotten through to the owner and our story checked out.
He handed me my $10 ticket for 65 in a 55, told me to slow down and that we were free to go. We did, very carefully, so ended the first part of our Friday the 13th