Ray Jr's Run-In with the Long Arm of the Law

Sometimes raising the kids that became your mother or father wasn't easy and I'm sure they felt at times I was a mean old daddy but, I had certain rules of displine that I considered it best for them to follow.

I have a belief that children should be disciplined with a firm hand 100 percent of the time and shown pure love 100 percent of the time which equals 200 percent and that is hard to accomplish.

Of course circumstances dictate how one handles things and here is how I handled one with Ray Jr. which I love telling because 30 years later it still amuses me and even more so now.

I have to say however, that Ray Jr. is still not amused and doesn't care to hear it repeated.

First a little background:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Back in the sixties and seventies the wife and I both worked at Kennedy Space Center and received two weeks paid vacation each year.

After being in the oil field and working on the missile silos which never allowed us a vacation and after our first year at KSC (1965/66), I always insisted the family take a full two weeks vacation and travel and see this wonderful America we live in.

I always started my vacation the week of our July 4th holiday so I would have one extra vacation day and could go and see as much as possible.

We enjoyed the great outdoors and purchased a hard roof pop up tent trailer to take on our vacations which we pulled with a 1964 Oldsmobile Station Wagon and then later a 1970 Chevrolet Station Wagon.

A lot of the camp grounds we stayed in were in wooded areas and I got to thinking it would be nice to have a small trail bike to go exploring with or running around the camp ground and therefore in 1972, I purchased a 125 Yamaha Trail Bike to take with us on vacations.

We had a bike rack which allowed us to haul the Yamaha across the back bumper of the station wagon.

We looked like true gypsies with 3 kids and all our luggage tied on top of the wagon, a motorcycle tied on the back bumper and pulling a travel trailer.

The little bike proved it's worth in 1974 after a 12 hour all day 6am to 6pm hike out of the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The wife and I were so exhausted when we reached the top rim of the canyon we could go no further and the camp ground was over a mile away from where we came out of the canyon.

But, the kids were still energized so we had Ray Jr go get the bike which had been left at the camp ground and come back and take old Dad to get the car to haul the wife and Becky back to the camp ground.

So, the bike had been purchased for and intended to be a family bike to use on vacation.

Of course vacation time is only two weeks out of the year and it wasn't long until Ray Jr. was considering it his bike as he would use it to go riding in the woods.

We also joined a state wide organization called the "Florida Trail Riders" and one weekend a month we went all over the state and Ray Jr. ran Enduro races with the bike and the family camped out at these events.

However, he was restricted to riding it only in the woods and strictly forbidden to ride it on the streets because at his age Ray Jr. was not licensed to ride the bike on Florida Streets.

That's the Background: . . . :Here's the Story . . . .

In Florida you are allowed restricted drivers license at age 15 which means you can drive a car with some one with you and it also means you can ride a motorcycle up to a certain horsepower rating.

Although only a 125, the Yamaha had about twice the HP allowed for a person with restricted license.

I kept the license plate current on the motorcycle but, at the time I didn't bother to keep a state required motorcycle inspection sticker updated because we only used it in the woods or on vacation.

O" - I occasionally rode it on the streets but, I had forbidden Ray Jr. to be on the streets and he had strict orders never to take it out on the streets.

After attending Junior High School his 7th, 8th, and 9th grades and playing football, In the fall of 1974 Ray Jr. was starting his Sophomore year at Astronaut High School and his first year of high school varsity football.

They had started practicing football before school started and practiced once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

Astronaut High School is about two miles from our house and Ray Jr. rode his 10 speed bicycle to and from practice.

One Monday morning Ray Jr. took off to football practice and after getting about half way, he remembered he had left his football shoes at home so he turns around and pedals back home to get his shoes and this was going to make him late for practice.

He told me later, he got his shoes and came back out of the house through the garage and there in the garage set the Yamaha which could get him to practice on time and a lot easier then pedaling a bicycle.

So, he decides to take the Yamaha so he can get to practice on time.

Well, he should have stayed in bed because some days you just can't win.

Shortly after leaving the house the Yamaha runs out of gas and he has to switch to the reserve tank. Not sure just how far the reserve tank will take him he decides to pull into a gas station and get gas.

While filling the Yamaha with gas, a city police car pulls in and the officer gets out and looks Ray Jr. over and ask him if the bike isn't a little larger then he is suppose to be riding.

Then he looks at Ray Jr's driver licenses and takes a closer look at the Yamaha and Ray Jr. ends up with two tickets. One for improper licenses and one for an expired inspection sticker.

By the time the officers gets through with him, getting to football practice on time was no longer possible and faced with two traffic tickets to take home to Dad, even the afternoon practice was no longer a priority.

Ray Jr's priority was how do I get out of this because he figured he was in deep yogurt.

I later ask him if the officer scared him and he said "Dad that cop didn't bother me, I was scared what you were going to do and that bothered me"

At the time, I was building a rather large patio on the back of our house using conventional construction and I was making the ceiling beams out of 4 X 8 rough cut cypress.

In the top of several of these beams I was taking a router and cutting a half inch deep grove in the beam to run electrical wires in.

Ray Jr. and I had just spent the weekend cutting some of these groves and it was slow going in the cypress wood and hard on the router.

Ray Jr. figured one way out of this was to forget the afternoon football practice and go home and get these groves cut and finished so his Dad will be pleased and this will ease the pain of $35.00 dollars which the tickets are going to cost.

In his haste to get the groves finished he burns up the router.

First thing he had done of course was to call his mother at work and tell her about the traffic tickets.

His mother called me around noon and said "I want to tell you something now because you have 4 hours to cool off before quitting time. Your son is worried he is in deep trouble because he got two traffic tickets and she told me the complete story and ask me to stay calm and not be too hard on him because he was already upset."

She then said. "I already told little Ray not to worry that I would pay the tickets for him and he needn't be concerned with that." My response back to her was "Like Hell you will, that boy is going before the judge and learn a few things about life"

I was glad I had the 4 hours because by 4 o'clock and quitting time, I had decided to handle Ray Jr. very calmly and with great understanding.

That of course was before I got home and learned he had burned up the router.

And, as it turned out I was more upset about the router then the tickets but, even that I could understand because I knew his intent was to try and get the beam groves finished to please his Dad.

As I recall it, I didn't even get on him too bad at all or even raise my voice. I did however, advise him he was going before the judge and that it was not going to be so easy as his Mom paying the tickets and forgetting it.

In those days we had a city judge which handled nothing but, traffic violation and perhaps public nuisances and things like that.

On the day we went to court I was pleased to learn they did it by having everybody get in a line and wait their turn. By the time we got there the line was fairly long and there was 30 or 40 people ahead of us. I liked that because as we waited our turn Ray Jr. got to hear all the other cases and observe the trouble other people were in.

When it came our turn, I let Ray Jr. explain his tickets and then the judge was asking him some question and when it appeared the judge was about ready to render his ruling. I said your honor, "You might ought to know that he was riding a stolen motorcycle because he stole that motorcycle from me."

The judge looked at me awful funny and stammered a little bit and said, "You might not ought to be telling me something I don't need to know" I then started explaining my position as a father and the judge caught on to what I was attempting to do and he then gave Ray Jr. a polite but, pretty firm message about following the rules.

In the end, The judge fined him the $35.00 but, suspended the fine subject to Ray Jr. attending a Drivers Ed Course which the city conducted.

Ray Jr. was real happy there was no cost for the tickets but, pretty upset with me for telling the judge he stole the motorcycle and he really let me have it after we got outside.

I think he should be pleased, he is now 46 years old and to my knowledge never had another traffic ticket.

The 1972 Yamaha went on to live a wonderful extended life as Ray Jr.'s own son, John now 24 years of age rode it during his teen years.

After being in the family 34 years the Yamaha was recently taken out of storage, officially retired and now sits in the family museum we dubbed The Smythsonian.

The End

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