Long ago, and far away in a place called Kewanee, Illinois, my home town, I was driving my high mileage Dodge van north on Tenney Street, the street on which I lived as a child. I was headed back to my home in Madison, Wisconsin, about a three-hour drive away. I turned onto Division Street remembering how this street was, and still is, the dividing line between two school districts, Kewanee and Wethersfield, the school I attended.
Suddenly I head a scraping noise from under the van and pulled over to see what was wrong. I discovered that the tail pipe with muffler attached was dragging on the street. Of course it was a Sunday. Things like this always happen when repair shops are closed. As I stood looking at the van and pondering what to do, a Kewanee policeman pulled up.
The cop asked what the problem was, and I showed him the drooping tail pipe. He asked where I was headed, and said something like, “That’s a long way, you can’t have this thing dragging. It would be dangerous.” Having stated the obvious, the went on to say, “I think I can help. Get in the van and follow me.”
I was surprised when we pulled into a residential driveway, and even more surprised when I learned it was his house. He went inside and came out with some tools and wire and one of those rolling things you use to go under a vehicle. He wired the pipe up to where it belonged and told me, “That should get you home. But, take it to a garage and get it fixed right.” I made it safely back to Madison just fine.
Coincidentally, my eldest nephew, Rocky Stuffelbeam, worked at the local newspaper, the Kewanee Star Courier, and he did a feature story about how this policeman went out of his way to help. Was it because it was a different era? Perhaps, but I like to think it was, in part, because it was Kewanee. But then, as now, there are a lot of good cops out there. We just don’t hear about them as much.