First - The winner of Linda Swift's contest from Tuesday is ... Kathleen from Canada. Kathleen, email Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org to claim your prize.
Friday is here again, and along with it comes another chapter from the tales of Detective Mark Hussey, Pull up a chair, grab some coffee, and join him at K.C. on the Boulevard for some cop stories.
Kissen’ Kuzzin’s Restaurant was somewhat of a cultural center for local law enforcement. K.C. On The Boulevard as it was called, or just K.C., became a 24-hour hangout for the cops and anyone looking for the cops. On the day shift, it was not unusual to find members of the LPD brass in the restaurant eating breakfast or lunch.
The evening shift usually made up the majority of the clientele for dinner.
The midnight shift however, got interesting. You never knew who might show up. The drunks would come in (sometimes the drunks would be off-duty cops), the troopers from the Florida Highway Patrol would come in, the Deputies from the Polk County Sheriff’s Department would come in, the LPD road cops would be there and then, last but not least, the unending cast of characters who followed this traveling road show.
K.C. Served home cooked fare, and of course, the food was half price with free coffee. Breakfast was served twenty-four hours a day, with potato pancakes topping the list of favorites. For dinner, the choice was usually the K.C. Strip steak, which was marinated in some “secret sauce”. I found out in later years that the secret sauce was Italian dressing. The steaks were nonetheless delicious.
The restaurant manager once told me, “Giving you guys half price is the cheapest insurance policy I can buy.” It seemed to be true. Although he had occasional "drunk" problems, which were swiftly dealt with, to my knowledge the restaurant was never robbed.
Sometimes on the weekends, the guys would meet their wives and families there for dinner or breakfast. Usually there were clandestine rendezvous with girlfriends or contacts. Mostly though, it was the “cop’s” restaurant. K.C. was our place and anyone who entered there and remained, did so at our pleasure, whether they realized it or not.
The midnight shift was the most unusual shift of all. Most of the crimes that did happen were substantial ones, meaning they were serious felony type crimes, rapes, murders and robberies. The best fights happened on that shift when the bars were closing. It was said, you didn’t have to have a score card to tell the players. Usually people that were out roaming the streets that hour of the morning were up to no good. One old timer used to say, after midnight there are two kinds of people out on the streets: Cops and Crooks, and I don’t see your badge.
If anything was going to happen, it usually happened in that window from midnight to eight. Usually though, nothing happened. After about three a.m., the radio would go dead and if you didn’t feel like finding a place to hide from the supervisor and sleep, you found something to do. That “something” usually consisted of some activity that was against departmental policy or of the practical joke nature. Many of these escapades began or ended at K.C. On The Boulevard.
One such morning, Sergeant Delton E. “Pistol Pete” Petersen had just called out at the restaurant for his usual four o’clock breakfast and coffee.
“Five-nine,” the radio crackled. “Five-nine go ahead.”
“I’ll be forty-two K.C.” Pete was so predictable. He ordered his usual breakfast: cheese omelet, bacon and toast, with black coffee.
The breakfast was delivered and the fun began. Pete lifted his fork and attempted to cut a small piece of the two egg omelet with his fork. The eggs seemed a little tough this morning. As he wriggled the fork back and forth to no avail, he noticed something unusual in the egg near his fork. Taking the end of his spoon and holding down the opposite end of the omelet, he pulled at the clear, rubbery object with his fork. It slowly gave way and then was completely visible.
“Butler you son-of-a-bitch,” he whispered under his breath. The latex condom dangled from the end of the fork as a couple of the waitresses looked on, giggling good-naturedly. Then, Pete let out a thunderous laugh. He’d been had. It wasn’t the first time and it wouldn’t be the last, but revenge would be forthcoming.
On another morning the shift, Lieutenant Clarence "Sonney" Sharrett sat down to breakfast and ordered his eggs. Several minutes later the meal was delivered to his table under a metal cover. If he didn’t think this was unusual enough, the dish seemed to be beeping. As he lifted the cover, he was greeted by two yellow baby chickens.
“I think the eggs are a little overcooked," the lieutenant said.
You could count on your car being tampered with too. Everybody in the department had a key to this year's fleet of cars. In other words, your key fit all the police cars.
Unlike some of the big cities who had the “Indianapolis plan,” which meant they took their assigned cars home, we had what we called the “Mulberry plan”(Mulberry is a small town south of Lakeland). We got to take our keys home.
It was not unusual to come back to your car after breakfast and find something in your car that had not been in there before. Sometimes you would turn your ignition key to find that someone had filled the air conditioner vents with flour or baby powder and turned the fan to the “high” position. This would result in you being covered with white powder.
Sometimes the backseat would be gone completely. On one occasion, an officer and his trainee returned to their police car to find that someone had written the words “Caution K-9” on the windows with white shoe polish. When they opened the car door a most unpleasant odor slammed into their nostrils. A large, rotting, oozing dog carcass had been tenderly placed on the back seat of the police car. The senior officer shot a glance across the street to find another police car, strategically placed for careful surveillance.
Sometimes the pranks backfired, causing ramifications that resulted in internal affairs investigations. They rarely found out who actually pulled the pranks. The men just wouldn’t cooperate with the head hunters. Once, somebody brought a wino, or homeless person as they are called today, from downtown somewhere. Along the way a stop was made to fill the intoxicated man’s pockets with fresh dog shit. The man was then placed in the back of a patrol car in the parking lot of K.C. When the officer came back to his car, the man was gasping for breath and an ambulance had to be summoned.
Another time, during the day shift, a large dead dog was tied to the rear bumper of one officers car with a short length of rope. The dog and rope were then concealed under the rear of the police car. When the officer got back in his car and headed west on Memorial Boulevard, the dog reluctantly followed. Getting caught briefly on a manhole cover, he bounced unnaturally down the street behind the car. The officer turned the car south on Florida Avenue past a crowd of yelling people, wildly flailing their arms and yelling. The officer thought they were waving and waived back. The phone calls started to come in.
“One of your deplorable cops is dragging a poor dog behind his car. He should be shot,” one woman said.
“Is that how you guys punish your K-9’s now?” another inquired.
Another caller claimed to have seen the dog running, trying to catch up to the car, before being pulled to his death. And so it went.
K.C is gone now. A realtor’s “Available” sign hangs out front. It was our sanctuary. Our home away from home. It was neutral ground. It was safe haven.
And today, while Detective Hussey has been entertaining you, I'm in Cairo -- virtually anyway. Jenyfer Matthews and I shared space on her blog today as part of my participation in the Go Green, Read e project. Please check it out.