Moto Guzzi National Owners Club
Moto Guzzi National Owners Club
Moto Guzzi National Owners Club
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Motorcycles in the Texas Highway Patrol

In 1930 the state legislature created a State Motor Patrol as is was called then. Applicants with experience in riding and repair were desired. With station assignments often being far from a motorcycle shop in the rural areas, the officer would be required to do his own repairs and would have parts issued to him. A number of the earlier patrolmen had been motorcycle mechanics which was to their advantage in being selected for employment in this new organization. The first class of recruits were issued ninety new Indian and Harley motorcycles. The use of both brands at the same time was very unusual in police agencies, but it continued for this department through the 30's. These original officers developed the department and many became supervisors and leaders who passed on their knowledge, traditions, and spirit to the generations of young officers who came after them. I was privileged to hear some of their stories of how it was for them, and they tended to tell the humorous ones. I will share a few which are now lost in history and not known by many at this time.

A written report was received by the chief from one of his men: “Was riding back into town on a curvy road under a railroad underpass. Did not see the road covered by spilled corn cobs. Request one pair uniform pants to replace a pair with seat missing.”

A patrolman was riding his motorcycle behind a driver in an open touring car who was chewing a plug of tobacco. Not knowing a state patrolman was behind him he would spit sometimes and it would hit the officer. The motor patrolman stopped him and shot all four of the tires on the man's car without saying anything. He rode off for a short distance, turned around and returned and shot the spare, again, without a word and then rode off. Years later he became the chief of the Texas Highway Patrol.

When an arrest was made by a motor patrolman he had one of two choices to get the prisoner to jail. Most of the time the one being arrested was drunk. The officer had options of cuffing him to a tree or fence post to be picked up later by the Sheriff who had a car. Since there were no police radios, that meant a long wait. It was usually many hours later when the patrolman would see the Sheriff and he would not be in a hurry to go pick up the man. The other option was to carry the prisoner on the luggage rack of the officer's motorcycle which of course in those days had no rear shocks. It was a rough ride for the drunk and the patrolman was not trying to miss the bumps.

When two patrolmen were working as partners they would alternate on shifts as to who would be “in lead”. The one in lead rode his motorcycle ahead of his partner and made the contact with the violator and the other one served as his back up. On this occasion these two officers became aggravated with each other and one said to the other, “I will get your rear cylinder.” Nothing smelled as bad as urine on a hot cylinder. The one in lead stopped them later for coffee, but was careful to select a place to park under an over hanging light. He thought that would assure his partner could not wet his rear cylinder with urine and went inside of the cafë. His partner went to the alley and found an empty can and brought it back with urine and wet the rear cylinder of his partner in the lead who was inside for coffee. After their coffee stop the motors had cooled off and there was no smell. Soon after they rode off and the motors became hot, the one with the doused cylinder could not hardly stand the smell but he knew he had been had and did not know how. Iron caste cylinders retained that odor caused by urine for a longtime. Pranks like that and others were common among the men and it became almost a tradition to pull stunts of all kinds on each other.

New rookies wore leggings with their motorcycle pants for the first six months before they were permitted to wear motorcycle boots. Many truckers knew that and if they were stopped by a rookie patrolman some believed they could get away with acting more aggressively towards a rookie. This story is about a veteran patrolman who had been a successful boxer prior to joining the patrol and he loved to fight. Sometimes he would wear leggings instead of his boots and work on a truck route highway. When he stopped a trucker who would recognize what he believed was a new rookie and the patrolman would act the part by appearing to be timid and afraid and unsure of himself the trucker would sometimes become bolder. This would continue until the trucker believed he could scare the patrolman and shove him around. Then a fight would develop and the patrolman who appeared so timid and meek would turn into a tiger and whip the trucker real good.

There were many stories like these. I always enjoyed getting men from that era to tell me how it was in the early days. By the time I was employed, some of them were ranking officers. They were the tutors and examples for younger officers. It became a tradition to work long and hard hours with very little time off, but to also have some fun along the way.