I've been helping a man down in Hernando assemble a tribute to Florida Highway Patrol troopers who died in the line of duty. He is a retired trooper from New York State. I've been searching our microfilm of the Tallahassee Democrat from the 1930's up to the present for stories about these men. Today I completed his final requests for information.
Microfilm searches are always, well, trippy for me. Time travel: Watergate, Carter's Camp David Accords, the death of Pope John Paul I.
If you are my age or older, you might remember the television series, Highway Patrol, starring Broderick Crawford. They are the big boys, like the Texas Rangers, expected to handle any situation they encounter alone, without hope of immediate backup.
I've never been stopped by an FHP trooper. Having driven the bookmobile for 9 years, I hold a chauffeur's license, and I am a designated Safe Driver.
These troopers died in encounters with fugitives and smugglers. The most heartbreaking stories are the ones where they stopped to try to help. Like the Miami trooper who stopped because someone's car was on fire. He called a wrecker, but when he asked the driver, a 15-year-old runaway, to show his license, the youth pulled out a .357 magnum and killed him and the wrecker driver.
When you see a trooper out on the highway, say a prayer for him. He is doing a dangerous job, all alone.
Listen to Junior Brown perform Highway Patrol.