Christmas was the most wonderful time of the year at our house. Long before there were lavish contests for home decorating, my parents spent months building and preparing their outdoor Christmas display. My father would start building figurines in October. He had an amazing talent for figuring out a scene and then constructing the parts to make it come alive.
One time my father was making a wooden elf in the garage, where he kept all his tools. He tried to teach me some basics about woodworking and other manly things, and I was happy to assist him. I would stand there and hold the board while he drew an outline and measured it. Once we were done, I couldnât wait to run inside and help Mom cook or bake or whatever she was doing.
As Christmas approached, my mother and I spent hours wrapping Christmas presents, not just for our family, but for local toy drives and other projects she was involved in. Weâd also do a lot of holiday baking, and I can tell you, there is nothing like making cookies and desserts with your mother during the holidays.
By the age of fifteen, I had completely taken to the art of outdoor holiday displays, and I had two of the best teachers in the state. One year, I even won the Edgewater city contest. When the local paper interviewed me, I made sure to thank my mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, great-grandmother, and everyone else I could name.
I probably stood out more than others because everybody knew my father was Sergeant Jones. Sometimes I could get away with things that other kids couldnât; other times it seemed that I couldnât get away with anything. Sometimes my father would try to make it seem that the advantages outweighed the disadvantages, like when he would confiscate firecrackers from kids, then turn around and give them to me. I would turn around and sell them to make a quick couple of bucks.
A few times our car windows were bashed in, and we knew immediately that it was because my father was the long arm of the law in Edgewater. It was a part of life that we just accepted. He spent most of his career working with juveniles, or youth programs, and was the kind of cop who was not out to get anyone. He worked a lot with first offenders, hoping to get them off the track they were heading down. Sometimes kids would get picked up for shoplifting or other petty crimes. If he busted you, he was more likely to let you go and tell your parents than take you down to the station or write a ticket. He also had the option of letting kids perform community service, a decision that was entirely at his discretion. Heâd have them cutting weeds or sweeping floors. It was all perfectly legal. Back then, it was easier for an officer to use his own good judgment.
When your father is a police officer, there is always a tension
woven into your life, and you learn to accept it. We knew quite well that every day he went out, there was a possibility he would not come home. Thatâs just how it is in law enforcement families.
One time my father responded to a disturbance call at a local drug store, which had closed for the day. It was nighttime, and the caller said he heard banging and other noises coming from behind the store. My father was the only officer on duty. He thought someone was probably drunk and had fallen near the drug store.
As he approached the store, he drove around back but noticed nothing. He then drove around to the front of the store and saw a car parked at the front entrance. As he got out of his squad car, he noticed a man hiding underneath the car. My father drew his weapon and ordered the man out from under the car. The man underneath the car had a gun, which my father quickly secured.
Dad then wisely ordered backup from Denver Police. They were there in minutes, and when they entered the drug store, they came across two men who had broken in. After shaking those two down, weapons were found on each of them.