Write Again…The wrong side of the “law”

Published 12:13 pm Wednesday, February 3, 2021

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It happened in the spring of 1957. A Saturday. In Grimesland.

Oh, yes. In the small, very small town of Grimesland, is where we – I – ran afoul of the law.  Traumatic.

As memory allows me to reconstruct the incident – a memory made a bit murky after so very many years – let me tell you about it.

First, however, let me explain how we came to be in that Pitt county town.

There were three of us, Steve, Larry, and me. There may have been one other. I simply can’t remember.

We were all on the Washington High track team. This was only the third year the school had a team, and we didn’t even have a track. We worked out, practiced, behind the school, and occasionally went out to the race track on Market Street extension. There was a harness racing training site, with stables, situated there.  

The closest real track was at Guy Smith stadium in Greenville, and the conference meet was always held there. Needless to say, all our meets were held away from home.

So…we decided we’d go over to Greenville that Saturday to work out. My father let me take the family car. Multi-car families were very rare in those days.

On the way back home, after a good workout, we stopped at the small store right at the edge – contiguous with – the town’s two short blocks long business section for a bit of refreshment.  Soft drinks. That building no longer exists.  

As we got back into the car Steve looked at me and said, “Down the sidewalk.” Why, I’ll never know.

The entire side of that town looked completely deserted. There was no one to be seen. And, it was a very short block.  

So. At about two to three miles an hour we rode down the sidewalk. As we came to the end, where a slight drop off to an intersecting street was, a man walked right in front of the car.

Oh, yes. He was in civilian clothes, but said he was “the law,” in so many words. And . . . he told me to get out of the car, and follow him.  

Not good. We crossed the street and went into the largest business emporium in Grimesland.  Several men were seated in there, probably enjoying fellowship and just whiling away a lazy Saturday afternoon. 

An informal, very, very brief “kangaroo-style court” was held, and I was told I had to pay a fine – I forget the exact dollar amount – or they would have to hold me there until someone came to take care of it.  

My compatriots had gathered outside, so I was allowed to talk with them. We all put every bit we had on us together, which wasn’t really much, and I went back inside, explained the situation, and the “head man” said that would be acceptable. I had avoided incarceration in a general merchandise store.  

On the way home we decided it would not be necessary to share this experience with anyone.  This we agreed to unanimously. I was relieved.  

That night at the supper table my father, rather casually, said, “I understand you were in Grimesland today, Bub.”  

Lordamercy. It would seem that news of our criminal activity almost beat us home.

In all the years since, guess what I’ve never, ever, done again.

That’s right…drive on the sidewalk.


Note – In last week’s column about “significant/historic” events, inadvertently the Holocaust/Shoah tradegy was left out. This unspeakably horrible crime was perpetrated by the Nazis, during one of the darkest periods in all of history.