When I grew up respect for authority figures was the norm. For instance, I didn't call my friends parents by their first names; they were Mr. and Mrs. Smith or Jones not John and Jane. With my parents there were no mixed messages. I respected the word and rule of my parents with a healthy measure of fear of consequences. Being that I grew up in a law enforcement family and a Catholic family, cops and the religious were held in high esteem. It made for and interesting mix of faith and caution when it came to how I developed in all areas. Needless to say I can truthfully tell you my family is an interesting bunch and that I had an interesting upbringing.
Post their police careers my Dad and my Uncle went into business together in the same beach community where our family beach house was located. And it brings to mind a something that happened when I was about 14 or 15 years old at the beach house.
I was glued to the TV watching my first airing of The Godfather so I’m thinking 1974 or 1975. Of course timing being everything it is just at the point of the movie when the director/producer finds the horse head in his bed and my heart is racing, I’m alone and I hear… knock, knock, and knock! I jumped about four feet off the couch made my way to the door to find two men in suits standing at the door.
Remember what I said about faith and caution?
“We’re agent Mulder and Scully (no that’s not their real names, I stole those from the x-files) and we’re agents with the Federal Government (FBI/ Secret Service) is your Dad home? He glanced to confirm my dad’s name on his little pad, Henry right?” Without thought my hand went up to the lock but I didn’t lock it, for now the door as a barrier was enough.
At that point they each produced badges and showed them to me. I remember thinking as I was looking at the badges; I should ask for more I.D. if they’re real agents they’ll have ID too. “Can I see your I.D’s? They showed me their picture ID’s.
Thinking back I’m sure they had already deduced that I was home alone but I didn't want to tell them that myself after all I was a kid and they were strangers. When I mentioned I’m going to call Dad and tell him to come home they ask if they can come in the house. Funny how even a thin storm door between them and me gave me the tiny bit of courage. I said no and told them to wait outside. Then I locked the storm and wood door and dialed Dad.
Dad arrived in five minutes and they all came in together. Introductions were made and they got down to business at hand which if you’re curious had something to do with someone or other and counterfeit money being passed in local businesses.
Then surprisingly one of the agents said to Dad with a grin, “I’m guessing you were a cop?” “Yes.” Dad replied. “And you know this how?” The agent went on to exclaim. “Only a cop’s kid would grill us about our credentials and then leave us on the porch, you raised her well.” And he shook my Dads hand as if to congratulate him.
Then Dad turned to me. “Why didn’t you let them in?” All three pairs of eyes turned towards me and I knew they were very curious to hear my explanation. I took a deep breath knowing I had faith that I used common sense and exercised caution the way my Dad had taught me in order to keep me safe in an unsafe world.
Then I explained.
“The decision was simple.” “How was I supposed to know the badges and I.D’s were real if I’ve never seen one before?” “For all I know they could have come from the five and ten cent store.”