July 10, 1972
One particularly warm summer night, my friend Charlie and I were cruising around in his ‘67 VW. I guess you could say we were up to no good, but all we were really doing, was trying to stay cool. A hot summer night, windows down, we’ve all done it.
As luck would have it, bad luck, we found ourselves in the lovely little town of Hawaiian Gardens. The only thing tropical, or resort like about this place was the name. Not a total ghetto, but you sure had to keep your wits about you while there. Rents were cheap and a lot of people lived there for that reason alone. Some friends of ours lived there.
My memory usually doesn’t fail me when it comes to past events, but I’m a little blurry on this one. We may have just been going there to visit, or we may have been there to conduct a little business. It could have been either one, or both.
“Get your hands where I can see them! “
“Driver, get out of the car!”
“Passenger, get out of the car!”
Etc, etc, etc. We’ve all seen it enough times on television. I won’t bore you.
They split us up, frisked us, handcuffed us, and grilled us. Apparently, they “saw” us smoking a joint while driving. We weren’t. They “saw” us get rid of the joint when we saw them. We didn’t. Within a few minutes it became crystal clear to us both, that we were in fact guilty of something. It wasn’t what they accused us of though; we were guilty of simply driving through their beat with long hair!
I can only speak to what was going through my own mind at this point. We weren’t high, we hadn’t been smoking a joint, and we had no drugs in the car. Of course we made no mention at all, relating to why we were there, and what we were doing. They didn’t like that very much.
I thought we were screwed because in those days any amount of drugs found on you was a felony. Ten pounds of pot, or a roach, it didn’t matter. There was nothing there, but we both knew they were gonna find something anyway.
And they did… It wasn’t much, but it was enough. Believe me, there is no way Charlie was going to lose track of anything in his car. Not only did he value his stash too much, his car was always spotless.
The assholes planted it in his car! By the way they acted; you’d have thought they just uncovered the Hope Diamond. This was not good. We all know there's a big difference between something like armed robbery, and simple possession. But not back then there wasn’t and they treated you the same. I can’t say all cops were as zealous as these two were, but a lot of them were.
So Charlie and I are sitting handcuffed in the back of the Sheriff’s car watching a tow truck take his car away. Not a good thing to see. We’re taken to the Lakewood Sheriff’s Station and booked for “Felony Possession of Marijuana.” Again, you’d think we just killed somebody; we’re stripped, “searched” again, and put in individual cells so we can’t talk to each other. This was the first time I’d spent the night in jail, and I really didn’t like it at all. They didn’t treat us very nicely. Oh well…
I asked if I was going to be allowed to make a phone call. They said I could, but if it wasn’t local, I’d have to call collect. If nobody answered, I was shit out of luck! Nice guys! I called my two roommates (Bev and Darlene) and told them what had happened, and I’d talk to them the following day (more on that later).
About noon the following day, a Sheriff came to my cell and told me I just made bail. I found that interesting because, although I’d been booked, there couldn’t have been any bail set yet. Anyway, the guy walked me over to a desk, had me sign something, and escorted me out of the jail and into the lobby.
Much to my surprise, Charlie was already in the lobby with his folks. They were all waiting for me. Good news, bad news… I had been released without charges, because what they “found” wasn’t actually in my possession, nor was it my car. Unfortunately, it was Charlie’s car, and they were in fact going to press charges against him. That really sucked! He was tried, found guilty, and did some time for it. Actually, what he did the time for, was NOTHING….
Amazing how things turn out. If this had happened today, the amount of pot they found in his car would have resulted in a misdemeanor, if anything at all. The people didn’t change, the laws did. In my mind, they changed for the good. At least on the subject of possession of marijuana, for personal use they did… Just my opinion though…
Many years since I’ve had anything to worry about relating to that subject anyway!