I watch Chicago PD. I know stuff. Like where Sergeant Hank Voight hides the bodies. I’ve picked up the lingo (from detecting) and a few of his habits-good and bad. (He’s ruthless but a softie). He demands loyalty from his team and would die before giving up a source. So no matter how hard you try, I will not give up my source. I’m not actually saying it’s a ‘him’ but I’m not gonna type him/her all the time. Think of this particular ‘person’ as my C.I. Confidential Informant-someone with a checkered past/present, runs around with ne’er do wells and often gets monetary or snacky compensation when giving tips for ongoing criminal activity to his handler. That would be me. The handler. I am she.
It has come to my attention (from a wealth of information gathered through honest detective work) that my source has a treasure trove of event tidbits that happened long ago in my hometown which I knew nothing about. (Guess I wasn’t as savvy as I thought). My C.I. was willing to ‘spill the beans’ if he remains anonymous and I don’t use real names. (He’s such a sissy)! I admitted to stealing a car and painting the side of a quonset building years ago. Statute of limitations or whatever.
I offer these facts. Most of these pranks/misdemeanors/shenanigans occurred between the years of 1963-68. Those were dark days in Rock Valley’s pristine history and I lived to write about them! Well most I just learned recently, but still. Some names, dates and locations have been changed to protect the innocent.
A carload of misunderstood youths from Rock Valley meandered to the town they loved to hate the most-Sioux Center. Bored, with an over abundance of testosterone they spotted a spiffy set of hubcaps which would look considerably better on one of their friend’s cars in RV. They were in the midst of their flamboyant caper when things took a turn for the worse as they were spotted by the feds. (Oh alright, it was a local cop) The RV car sped away with the hubcaps but w/o the kid, leaving the sole survivor to take one for the team. But he wouldn’t go down without a fight. Threw himself in the middle of a large woodpile while the cops searched intently, using spotlights all over the neighborhood. After a couple hours they gave up, leaving the dipstick to face a 15 mile walk back home. But luck was with the putz, his friends picked him up and they all shared a good laugh. Decided their friend with the ‘57 Chevy would benefit from their theft bounty and swapped out his plain jane hubcaps.
A weekend tradition like no other was cruising Main Street in Rock Valley on Sunday nights after church services. (Most of our dozen denominations had 2-a-days. Mine included, sigh). But the popular mile plus loop was not just privy to the locals. Cars loaded with hormonal teens from neighboring towns who were all looking for trouble, love or something to prove. One young man and friends showed up from Sioux Center, (driving a car with naked wheels) spotted a ‘57 Chevy sporting his former snazzy tire accessories. Suddenly he was filled with fighting angst. This was war!
The local boys (misguided youths) convinced the Sioux Center hothead they’d come by the hubcaps through a legal transaction from a kid living in Hawarden. But was he interested in sprucing up his lame car? The hubcaps were for sale if he wanted to cough up some cash. Sioux Center dolt did just that. Bought back his own merchandise.
Late one night a young man (with new driving privileges) felt the uncontrollable urge to zip through Rock Valley’s Main Street at the highest rate of speed ever achieved. (This was when our small burg was still a one-stoplight town). And he wanted to do it with flair. He decided to start this attempt at a world record about a mile south of town (the cemetery) at the peak of a pretty big hill. Posted where Highway 18 skirts Rock Valley and the start of Main Street were 2 young men-one gazing east, the other west-just in case an oncoming semi was spotted as our thrill seeker neared the intersection. Rock Valley’s own daredevil whizzed through that intersection cruising over a hundred, never took notice of our one traffic light and finally took his foot off the gas a mile north of town. Unnamed sources claim he topped out at 120. Down Main Street, right through town. How did these guys make it to adulthood? And who in the world wanted to bear their offspring?
Near a big curve where Highway 18 runs into Highway 75 is a railroad bridge over the highway. Four wayward teens decided that the concrete railroad bridge needed a splash of color. Armed with a couple cans of black spray paint they lumbered to the middle of the bridge late one night. Nominated the one they thought capable of spray painting ‘RV ‘66’ upside down (hopefully the year they would finally grow up). Gave the chosen one the cans, grabbed his feet and hung him over the side (there had to be a serious measure of trust amongst friend’s here wouldn’t you think?) The letters and numbers were precise and pristine for several years. And they didn’t drop him on his head (which probably wouldn’t have hurt his IQ at all).
How did I live in a farming community nearly 2 decades and never heard the term ‘field car?’ (I was a townie and only envied farm kids when the weather was bad and they got to miss school but the ‘townies’ had to go so the day could be counted). Well it seems that many farmers kept field cars for errands around the farm. They certainly didn’t want their good vehicles traipsing through rough fields getting scratched up. Usually it was Mrs. Farmer toting noon meals and cold drinks if the workers didn’t want to stop long. There was a night when one of these farms was lacking serious parental supervision (out of town). The bored boys got a hold of some beer and had no worries about getting picked up because they were out in the sticks. One of them (quite possibly inebriated) decided to take the field car out for a spin but missed the deep ditched driveway coming back and rolled the car over. Twice. Someone else with a few wits left drove the tractor to pull out the badly dented car, parked it inconspicuously where it wouldn’t be spotted for a couple days. Then they discreetly got rid of the evidence (empty beer cans up the wazoo) by tossing them over a fence (which just happened to frame Mrs. Farmer’s garden). Everyone got thrown under the bus for that one.
One of the trouble prone youths was trying to go straight. He had a knack for the extracurricular activity of speech and was headed for the state finals. To hone his humorous speech skills he practiced in a room at the school library (with a friend so he could be corrected when he flubbed a line). This conference room had a hatch in the floor which led to catacombs under the new and old school buildings. After rehearsing for 10 minutes and making sure the librarian was occupied elsewhere, they slipped underground to waste time, wreck havoc and accomplish nothing. An older janitor named Mr. Rice spotted the 2 cellar dwellers and gave chase, but the boys were sure footed and fast so they headed for one of the 2 main light switches. Killing all the lights they found their way out easily, then watched and waited subtlety for Mr. Rice to reappear from the tomb.
Heading west of Rock Valley someone driving their father’s ‘59 Ford on a snowy night missed the big curve heading north and ran the car into a massive snow bank. Rethinking his first instinct to call his dad, nope, no way, big problems with that scenario, he walked to the first farm, knocked on the door but no one was home. Noticed the tractor parked in the yard with the keys dangling from the ignition. He started the tractor, found a chain, pulled out the car, parked the tractor back in the same spot and drove home. Did not leave a thank you note.
Two carloads of hell raisers with too much time on their hands heard a farmer near Hudson was growing blue ribbon watermelons in between his rows of corn to ward off would be thieves (as if). The hooligans cruised the streets until dark then slunk quietly to the road near the prize winning watermelons, all revved up and drooling for fresh fruit! There were watermelons everywhere but they were not expecting gunfire. The guys thought the farmer was using blanks until the 12 gauge blast disintegrated a cornstalk too close for comfort, so they blew that free fruit stand.
This saga continues. There’s a great (but lengthy) tale about a cop’s car heist. Loose lips and all. Makes me wonder why I thought I was such a hell raiser. Dang I was a good kid in comparison. Now I’ve got to live up to my end of the bargain. Snacky’s comin up…