CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After serving two years in Germany, my dad came back to West Virginia to become a State Police trooper, graduating from the Academy in 1962. He retired from the force in April 1985, as proud as when he entered.
I grew up in a State Police household, both proud and fearful.
Back in the days when Dad started, there was no union or shifts. Dad's first assignment was Martinsburg in Company C. We lived there until I was 3, and we were transferred to Parsons. I started elementary school there, but at the beginning of my fourth grade year, a transfer moved us to Keyser. After a couple of short transfers, we landed in Moundsville at the beginning of my seventh grade year. Few troopers were left in any place long.
In those days, too, there was no hourly limit to the day. Growing up, I could count on seeing my dad two hours a day, between 5 and 7 p.m., which was his supper break -- unless he got delayed or called out mid-meal.
We were part of the larger State Police family, often visiting in other officers' homes. Visiting officers were often at our dinner table. My sister and I got to know the other police kids who were just as transient as we were. We got used to making new friends in new towns, knowing all along we may not be there long.
But that was our family's profession.
Dad thrilled over police work. He did not talk often about details of what he was doing, but we knew he loved it. We were proud to say "My dad is a State Police."
We were often fearful, too.
As I got older, I came to understand that supper may be the last time I would see my dad. I remember in later years, hearing Dad tell stories about people who pulled guns on him, sometimes double-barrel shotguns aimed and ready. (In Tucker County, those days even yielded a few still calls, and people get very protective of their homemade liquor.) I am sure we didn't hear half of the close calls.