By: Paige Cline
I received a letter by e-mail from a lady in Texas who said that she had just read a column that I wrote some time back about law enforcement officers that were a part of our growing up years.
It seems legendary state trooper, and later, Pineville police chief, R.D.Platt was her great grandfather. It seems that almost every gathering of grownups for any social occasion brought out another tale about Platt. That’s how he was referred to. Not Trooper Platt, not R,D.Platt. Just Platt. Say that name and everyone knew who you were talking about. Stories abounded about Platt going into a beer joint in the county where local toughs were fighting and generally terrorizing patrons, and coming straight back out with one under each arm. If there were more, he put the first ones in the car and went back in for the others. That, my friend, was law enforcement.
After Platt retired from the state police he was hired as the chief of police in Pineville. It wasn’t as if Pineville was a lawless town that needed to be cleaned up ala Dodge City. On the contrary, it was a nice peaceful community where Platt could still be a policeman and spend his retirement in relative peace. An occasional speeder or a disagreement over a pool game was about as wild as it got. Drunks, of course, were still arrested and allowed to sleep it off in jail.
Since it has been a long time since it happened, and since I have paid my debt to society. I can tell about a personal experience with Chief Platt other than social. Tom Ed Lambert was a friend who was one of the few in town who got a car just about as soon as he was old enough to drive. About his second car was this 88 Olds. It had Hydramatic Drive. That meant that it didn’t have or need a clutch. Since al cars up to that time had manual transmissions Tom’s car was pretty unusual.
One night when there was not much going on in town, Tom Ed hatched this idea to puzzle folks on the street and to get a few laughs. Tom Ed laid down in the front seat of the Olds with me and Angelo Wenzel in the back. Tom worked the gas and brake as I instructed him while I leaned over from the back seat and steered.
We made a couple of trips up and down Main Street, slowly of course, as we accepted the approval and laughter of the pedestrians. Then we parked to bask in the enjoyment of our accomplishment.
Our glee was short lived. The big, serious looking Platt walked up to the open window, looked in at us and said,” What the hell are you guys doing?”
To make a long story short, in a few days we found ourselves in the mayor’s office in a sort of trial. We wound up being fined a small amount for hazardous driving or something like that. Platt told us that he could have charged us with reckless driving with more severe penalties.
Anyway, the fine wasn’t big but it was more than I had and I wasn’t about to go to my parents and tell them what I had done. Not on your life.
I ran into another friend, Gerald Ellison, who was gainfully employed, and pawned my class ring to him for the amount of the fine. And, before I could redeem it, Gerald was drafted and my class ring did a tour of duty in Korea. After three or four years, I finally was able to redeem my ring. I still have it.
Platt, despite his stern look was actually a pleasant enough guy. After the incident with the 88, he dubbed us the ” Headless Horsemen ” and often kidded us about it. Believe it or not, I still occasionally have someone ask me about the ” Headless Horseman ” affair.
This was not the stuff on which state troopers build a reputation, but still a part of the job of being a cop. I have heard that Platt told that tale in later years while leaving the stories about how tough he was to others.
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