I’ve always had difficulty with authority issues. It probably stems from some sort of glitches in my upbringing, since our deepest formative experiences with authority figures involve our parents. Whatever the case, I’ve always responded to police, teachers, bosses, etc., with a dysfunctional mix of fear, distrust, resentment, and avoidance. I was reminded of that this week after a series of minor mishaps or transgressions.
On Thursday evening I went to Fernbank Park with Donna and the three sheepdogs for an early evening hike. Fernbank has a long open area along the banks of the Ohio River with a quarter-mile forested nature trail at its eastern end. Despite a leash law with a $100 fine, I usually let Mike and Duffy run free in the woods if there aren’t too many people around, and I did so this time too. As we were returning to the beginning of the trail, Donna called my attention to an approaching man who appeared to be in a khaki uniform. I put the dogs’ leashes back on as quickly as I could, then looked up and realized that it was a park ranger. As he passed by, he said gruffly, “You have to keep those dogs on a leash.” I said, “Yes Sir,” and thought to myself that we’d have to start following the rules since we probably wouldn’t get away next time with just another warning. I felt gloomy since Fernbank was a favorite destination, and it now it felt unwelcoming and hazardous.
Yesterday morning I left the dogs at home and drove over to St. Bernard, a blue collar community just north of Clifton, to take some photos. To me, St. Bernard has a small town 1940’s feel about it – sort of like an urban version of Menominee – and there’s a lot of picturesque scenes if you like off-kilter things. I’d taken about 150 photos and was just about to take another in a back alley when a police car slowly passed me, came to a stop, and then backed up. The officer rolled down his window and asked me what I was doing. I said I was taking some pictures. He asked if I were doing that for somebody. I said no, just for myself – that I just like to take pictures. “Why is that?,” he asked. I was sort of stuck for a reasonable answer. Finally I said that I just like to take pictures of different neighborhoods. He told me that somebody was going to call the police on me. I asked why they would do that. “Because they want to know what’s going on,” he said. Then he begrudgingly said he guessed it was o.k., though it seemed pretty clear that he preferred that I go take pictures in some other community. I took another photo as he drove off, but his warning put a damper on my enthusiasm. I didn’t quit right away, but I started keeping an eye out for “crime watchers” who might be calling the cops.
Last night we went to the theater at UC. As we were driving home on Martin Luther King Drive, I saw a long line of orange traffic cones and a man holding a sign that said, “Sobriety Check Point.” I was just approaching a road to my right that turned into Burnet Woods, and, for a fleeting moment, I thought of making a run for it. I thought better of it, though, since a manned police car was parked just behind me, probably waiting to follow drivers who try to evade the checkpoint. I started running through in my mind the various defenses I might offer when the police pulled me over. My fantasizing was a bit excessive since I’d only had one glass of wine five hours earlier. As it turned out, there had been a huge car crash at the far end of the checkpoint, so they weren’t stopping any cars anyway. Whew – a narrow escape!
I’ve attached a few of my photos from my St. Bernard expedition. I consider these rare and personally priceless since I won’t be going back to St. Bernard again.
-Phyllis SS (4-26): Hi Dave, Please, please don't let some jerk policeman intimidate you. You have every right to photograph St. Bernard and the photos are lovely. pss
-Linda C (4-25): dave, i think you should go right back to st. bernards and take more pictures and have a little micro reciever in your pocket, and if anything is in the open than you should take as many as you wish, i might leave the playground alone, even tho it is hardly illegal, why don't you look for flags, american flags are good because they are never in the condition they should be, take pictures of people coming out of the bar, who was the statue of, that was good take a few more, and a closer up of the window shop, so i can see the fucking wigs, now i am mad too. otherwise it isn't like i don't like the blog, i do, but this town hasn't seen a murder with a camera for a long long time, maybe now is the time. linda