The Call Box: Welcome to the 19th Century, part 2

lapd callboxBy Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

Ward Fitzgerald and Hal Brasher were both WWII vets. Ward served with the Navy in the Pacific while Hal piloted B-26 Martin Marauder bombers in North Africa. They were both laid back, calm, quiet and had seen it all. Each old enough to be my father and they took the time and patience to teach me how to be a street cop. They knew everybody in their area and everybody knew them.

 

Normally, three officers would be assigned to each unit [car]. With one usually day off, etc, the other two partnered up. When all three of us were working, I was assigned to another unit. When that happened, I got to know the other guys on the watch and see different parts of the division. I recall one night, pulling up to the gas pumps prior to going on patrol with a new partner when I saw him hugging a trustee [each station was assigned jail trustees to shine shoes, clean the coffee room, pump gas, or whatever].

 

I gave him a questioning look and he told me the trustee was his father doing time for DUI and that his mother asked him to keep an eye on dad [shades of Mayberry].  My regular unit with Ward or Hal was “3 A 1 5.” The “three” being the designation for university, the “a” for a two-man patrol unit, and the “1 5” was us. There were a lot of other “3 As” but we were the only “1 5.” Our patrol area was the north west portion of the division. An area known then as now known as the Normandie/Adams area. In the late 1800s and very early 1900s the area was [slightly] elevated was populated by grand mansions inhabited by the rich and famous. It became known as “Sugar Hill.”

Sugar Hill W Adams Heritage Assn Rindge-BnW_
Rindge Mansion Photo courtesy West Adams Heritage Assn.

 

 

We were the Sugar Hill car. By now however, the area had fallen on hard times and some of the mansions sat vacant while others had been converted to boarding houses or “flop houses.” Some stood as though in a pose of embarrassment, resembling elderly matrons ashamed of themselves and their surroundings. We were a night watch unit and the division came alive with a different persona at dusk.

 

lapd cop car at nightI was taught to slowly drive the darkened side streets with lights off and windows down. We cruised back alleys and sometimes would stop and just listen. I learned the difference between “looking” and “seeing” and “listening” and “hearing.” I learned how to talk to people, to read body language so it became second nature to me to “see” and “hear” things.  I was quizzed on things we had just done, and sometimes to see if I had picked up on the subtleties of something that we had encountered. I grew confident until the powers that be decided I should work with two younger guys. Thus Frank Isbell and George Flanders came into my life.

Next Wednesday, August 31st will post the last installment of Welcome to the 19th Century by Ed Meckle

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8 thoughts on “The Call Box: Welcome to the 19th Century, part 2

  1. Excellent, A lot of what Ed says is from the good old days, when cops used their instincts and intuition. Now days that’s a lost art. Cops don’t stay in the streets long enough to pass these traits down to the rookies. Hal

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When the boomers started retiring, agencies lost an enormous pool of experience. It’s that experience that translates book learning and case law into a workable pattern for a cop. The new cops are different from us dinosaurs, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ward Fitzgerald was my father. I would love to get in touch with Ed Meckle and any other veteran LAPD officer and hear more about him and his career with LAPD. Please forward my contact information so I can make the connection. Thanks! Anne

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How wonderful to read this about our Dad, Ward Fitzgerald!! Ed Meckle was definitely a name we remember from our childhood and we would love to make contact with him. So glad he is doing well and sharing these wonderful stories.
    Thank you so much!
    Maura Fitzgerald Sekas

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you, Ed and Thonie! I’m Ward’s 4th child and I love these stories that tell about Dad on the job. I was so young when he died that he wasn’t able to share much of his on-the-job stories with us kids. We have been grateful to get some stories about Dad on the job. We appreciate this story from Ed Meckle. We were also able to meet with Ed Gelb many years ago who shared his stories of life on the job with Dad. And we are looking forward to meeting soon with another former partner of Dad’s, Bob Baumgartner.

    These stories mean so much to us! Thank you for sharing them.
    Again, if there are other LAPD vets out there that would like to share their experiences with Dad, we’d love to hear them!

    Mary Fitzgerald
    ps- Ed Meckle: I’m the one who was in summer school geometry with your son!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you, Ed and Thonie! I’m Ward’s 4th child and I love these stories that tell about Dad on the job. I was so young when he died that he wasn’t able to share much of his on-the-job stories with us kids. We have been grateful to get some stories about Dad on the job. We appreciate this story from Ed Meckle. We were also able to meet with Ed Gelb many years ago who shared his stories of life on the job with Dad. And we are looking forward to meeting soon with another former partner of Dad’s, Bob Baumgartner.

    These stories mean so much to us! Thank you for sharing them.
    Again, if there are other LAPD vets out there that would like to share their experiences with Dad, we’d love to hear them!

    Mary Fitzgerald
    ps- Ed Meckle: I’m the one who was in summer school geometry with your son!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ward Fitzgerald is my Uncle whom I have known all my life up to when he died. My father, Robert Fitzgerald, was Ward’s older brother and Robert retired as a Captain in the Navy after 30 years of service to our Nation. I am now 73 years old and the oldest living male in this branch of Fitzgeralds. Robert and Ward both graduated from Creighton University in Omaha and I follow in their footsteps. Uncle Ward even came to Creighton to see how I was doing. He told me numerous stories about their experiences at this Jesuit University of their father, Henry Fitzgerald, who graduated in the first class taught in Pharmacy and in the Dental School, attended Creighton in the 1920’s. Ward once took me, who just graduated from High School, with him to have Lunch with 5 or 6 of his LAPD fellow Officers (maybe Ed was there), an experience that I have never forgotten. Later Ward took me to a clothing store in downtown LA that favored LAPD officers and I was fitted with 3 suits and numerous slacks and shirts. We also went on a Catholic retreat directed by an Order of Brothers, whose name I have forgotten, imposed the rule of silence while there. I could write much more about my Uncle Ward but let me just say that Ward was a man who had influenced many people to their benefit. Bob Fitzgerald

    Liked by 2 people

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