Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Way back when my late wife, Janice, and I first got married, we lived just outside of Newnan, Georgia in a trailer park. Yes I said a TRAILER PARK! Of course, back then everybody spoke American and went to the same church.

We had a RURAL ROUTE 5 mailing address, since there was no such thing as house numbering, GPS, or the like. Remember the RR5, we'll get back to it.

Well 9 months after the wedding bells sounded, our first child was on the way. Nothing out of the ordinary, a healthy baby boy, Joseph Allen was born. Not being the savvy business man that I am today, I did not have insurance to cover the expenses and had to work two jobs to pay off that child. Still, no problem, it's just what you do. This was October 28, 1975, also remember this date.

Almost two years later, October 12, 1977, to be exact, Janice was again at Newnan Hospital to deliver our next child. As I was waiting to welcome Clayton Daniel into the world, a nurse asked me to go down to the accounting office to see the manager.

When I was seated he informed me that they (the hospital) could not deliver my child. I told that pencil-pusher unless he knew how to stop Janice's contractions, plus had nerve enough to tell her she couldn't have the baby there, he needed to step aside and let nature take its course.

He informed me that the reason was that I had an unpaid balance on the previous child (born 10/28/75) and they had a policy of not giving further service to people with outstanding balances.

I informed him that he was full of s---, and that I had all the receipts at home, with a "paid in full" receipt locked safely away in a lock box for just such an occasion. Flustered, he began to scramble through his paperwork (this was pre-computer printouts) to prove that I was indeed the shiftless deadbeat that he thought I was.

Here comes the identity theft (of sorts) part of the story:

He said, "Aren't you Larry T. Cook?"
Me, "It's actually "G", but close enough.
He, "An your wife is Jan M. Cook?"
Me, "She prefers "Janice".
He, "You live on RR5, Newnan, Ga.?"
Me, "For the last 2 years."
He, "Your wife gave birth here on Oct. 28, 1975?"
Me, "Correct."
He, "And your daughter's name is........?"
Me (as I interrupted), "Only girl in my house is upstairs giving birth!"

Here are the stats:
On the other end of RR5 in Newnan, Ga., lived a guy by the name of Larry T. Cook. His wife was Jan Michelle Cook, while my wife is Janice Marie. They had a healthy baby girl the same day that our son was born. Well that might be the end of the story except------

I started getting calls from local companies such as furniture stores, department stores, and the like, saying that I was behind on my payments. When I tried to tell them it was mistaken identity, it comes to light that the sorry s.o.b. was giving Janice and my work places as references for credit. Back in those days the local stores would just call and ask if you worked at a certain place and the credit clerk would get all the information she needed. This obviously was before all the privacy policies of today.

Well, after some doing, we finally got all that straightened out. Shortly after that we moved and I took a job with another police department in the small town of Franklin, Ga.
During the summer the main event for this sleepy little town was the FRANKLIN MUSIC PARK. Owned and operated by the honorable Mr. Hugh Goodson, the Who's Who in country music would perform there in the course of the summer. Of course my job was to work every Friday and Saturday night, helping direct traffic, as this place drew huge crowds. Because I always worked the nights of the shows, I never got to attend any of the shows.

So you can imagine my surprise when I received a call to report to the magistrate court one afternoon, while I was in uniform and on duty. The judge called me aside and said, "Larry, I'm sorry but I have a bad check warrant for your arrest. I want to see if we can fix this before it goes to court."
"Mrs. Alexander, I don't know how you could have a warrant for me; I don't write the checks at my house, Janice does. Who says that we gave them a bad check?"
"Well the affidavit says that you bought 4 of the best seats in the house at the Charlie Daniels Show at the Music Park and the check is no good."
"First of all Clarise(Mrs. Alexander), you know that I am directing traffic to all the shows, along with everybody else at the Police Dept. and the Sheriff's Dept. The chief and the sheriff are the only two that get to see the concerts. Please let me see the check."

That son-of-a-bitch had come to Franklin, wrote a bad check, and now I was having to again straighten out his mess. I called my former chief in Newnan, and giving him the story, he sent 2 detectives to find this joker and show him the error of his ways. After a few days in a country jail, the message seemed to sink in and I never had my identity stolen or confused again.

p.s. I forget to mention that while we still lived in Newnan, Janice went to a local fast food restaurant known as the WISHBONE (best damn fried shrimp anywhere) and when her order came, she wrote the girl a check which was commonplace back in those days.

The clerk looked at the check, looked at Janice, and then back at the check. With a room full of lunch-time customers, the clerk looked Janice dead in the eyes and announced in a loud voice, "This check ain't no good, the Cooks ain't never wrote a good check here."

Just as Janice was crouching into ninja attack mode, the fry-cook came out to look and just happened to be on the same softball team as Janice. Seeing that death was about to be visited upon the clerk, the lady from the back rushed forward and shouted, "NO! NO! This is a different set of Cooks!"

All of Janice's life, she had been a forgiving person. But until the day she passed away, she still did not see the humor of that day. She was a good Christian woman, but she did have her pride!


Daryl and Brenda were sweethearts, in a redneck, trailer park sort of way. But man did they love each other! That is for about 10 minutes a day. The other 23 hours and 50 minutes they were cussin' and fussin' and fighting like cats and dogs (sorry cats and dogs for lowering your standards in the world, it just seemed to fit).

For those ever so brief moments, you would have thought the two of them had just wed on "FANTASY ISLAND", with Mr. Roarke as the preacher and Tattoo as the best man. But something in their genetic makeup just would not let that couple go a day without an argument of some kind where one or the other, and sometimes both, would storm off to their respective parents to sulk for a time. And just as soon as they separated, the began to miss each other.

This went on for several years while I was a police officer in the small town of FRANKLIN, GEORGIA. Now when I say small, this could have been the twin of MAYBERRY.  FRANKLIN was the only real city in the whole county and had the distinction of having the only traffic light in the entire county. On a clear night, you could hear banjo music.

Back in those days we (the police) were not encumbered by such finite laws, rules, and regulations. If something was wrong, we fixed it. Writing mounds of paperwork, getting permits and permission were unheard of. Point in case, if a woman said that the low-down bastard that she had been living in sin with had hit her, we went and locked said bastard up--problem solved. Then after a day or two, or at least until he sobered up and she calmed down, he was released with an indefinite court date. Meaning--go home and behave.

Now this worked 99% of the time, but here we go back to Daryl and Brenda. That woman used that privilege (of having drunk husband/boyfriend locked up) more than poor folks play the Lottery. Those two would be rolling along, as happy as could be. Daryl would have one to many (a practice I thought made sense, knowing Brenda), Brenda would say/do something to piss Daryl off. He would say/do something to make Brenda mad, then the fireworks started!

Daryl owned a beautifully restored, Canary Yellow, 1968 Chevy Nova. To give this country boy his due, he had done a first class job on the restoration. I also give him credit for the fact that he had sense enough to never drive that car when he had been drinking, which meant that he seldom got to drive it.


I borrowed that film title because everything came together on that hot summer night back in the mid-1980's to make this tale fun to remember and share!

Unlike usual, in that Brenda usually called us during the day, she came bursting into the Sheriff's Office about midnight on this particular Wednesday night. She was upset and babbling incoherently about Daryl and she had gotten into a fight(news flash!) and that he was drunk (stop the presses!) and that he had driven off in the NOVA! Whoa Nellie! Now that got my attention as that boy could not walk when drinking, much less drive an automobile.

The deputy and I calmed Brenda down as much as possible to try and make sense out of this mess. Unlike the usual scenario of Brenda just picking up the phone and calling when the fight started, she said she was leaving him and ran out the door. Although she just ran around to the back of their apartment, Daryl, in his drunken state, panicked and who knows what went through his mind, other than he had to get his woman back.

Now Brenda's parents lived south of Franklin, while Daryl's parents live north of town. It was decided that the deputy would go to Daryl's parents as he was, I think, some kin to them and had a better relationship with them than I. My job was to drive south and try to locate this guy before he hurt himself, or God forbid, an innocent person.

Off we both went. I was just over a mile south of town when my headlights pick up the sight of a man running towards me in the center of the road. I say running, but that is the nearest word to describe a man, drunk as the proverbial bicycle, sopping-soaking wet (we'll get to that in a minute), running up an incline.

Well yes, it was Daryl! I had stopped far enough back so that he could get plenty of exercise out of his run(so shoot me, I'm a little devil). He stuck his drunk, dripping, head in my window, blubbering, burbing, and baptizing  me with filthy, sinking pond water(?).

"Brenda's dead! I killed her! Oh GOD! Oh GOD!" He repeated this over and over. I would have been duly concerned had I not just spoken and seen Brenda less than 10 minutes earlier and the fact that I had dealt with hundreds and hundreds of drunks like this. Well, not exactly like this, but close enough.

As Daryl was crying, confessing, and begging for forgiveness, I called the deputy and told him my location and that I had the suspect. The deputy was already on his way towards me, as he had checked with Daryl's parents and knew the only other place he could be was south of town. The deputy arrived within a few minutes and I brought him up to speed.

Now to set the stage so that you can get the picture, if you are not familiar with the area, here is the layout. Just around the curve from where we found Daryl is a small, shallow lake on the left. If you are heading north, as Daryl was, the lake will be on your right, in a "hard" curve to the right. For some reason not known to me was a pile of dirt that made an excellent ramp of sorts.
Well the three of us went to the scene. walked up the "ramp" and looked into the shallow lake. Daryl had gone into the curve much too fast, down the embankment, up the ramp, and momentum cause the vehicle to do a 180 degree turn, belly-flopped into that lake, with the top barely two feet under water. The headlights were still on, illuminating the fish as they swam in front of them. 
It was also a full moon(which might explain part of this story) and it was bright enough, along with the headlights, that you could see that beautiful, totally ruined Nova just sitting in the water. The deputy and I both just wanted to smack Daryl, if for nothing else, destroying such a wonderful car.
Standing there in silence, it just came to me! Although I can not carry a tune in a bucket, I at least know the words: "WE ALL LIVE IN A YELLOW SUBMARINE, YELLOW SUBMARINE............"

The deputy turned and looked at me, shook his head and said, "Cook, you ain't got a lick of sense."

As I sit here, typing this story, I tend to agree with him!

Oh, after letting Daryl "stew" for a while, confess all his sins to GOD, promise to stop drinking, etc., etc., I finally told him that Brenda was safe at the Sheriff's Office. SEE, I can be a good guy, sometimes.