We have often heard the saying that, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”
After having spent much of my life dealing with people in a law enforcement setting, I have no doubt that the saying is true. I would go a little bit further and say that truth is also funnier than fiction, and that there is nothing that anyone could make up that could be funnier than a lot of real life situations.
For example, back in the ‘50s, two LPD detectives went to a local house to arrest a woman on a warrant. Upon their arrival, as sometimes happens in police work, the woman answered the door buck naked. The detectives told her that she was under arrest and to get dressed. She flatly refused. After much pleading, she still refused to dress, so the detectives handcuffed her and loaded her, still naked, into their car. She was struggling, and as they tried to get her into the car, she fell into the dirt next to the vehicle.
Upon arrival at the East High Street police headquarters, they marched her through the front door in broad daylight. As they led her past the front desk, Inspector E.D. Miller was standing there, talking to a man and his wife. They were treated to the sight of two men leading a handcuffed woman who was not only stark naked but was also covered with dirt on one side of her body. The detectives led the woman past the astonished couple and into an office.
Shortly thereafter, the furious Inspector Miller barged into the office and proceeded to chastise the two detectives. It was not for arresting her without clothes, but for not driving into the police garage and bringing her through the back door, out of the view of the public.
An acquaintance of mine who used to own a bar recently recounted a true story that is just about as funny as anything that you could fabricate. He had a regular customer who had an artificial leg. The man was in the bar all day, almost every day, drinking and usually pretty well soused.
There was a woman who occasionally stopped at the bar, selling nice large frozen shrimp in two-pound bags. Several customers bought from her regularly. On one particular day, the one-legged man bought a bag of the shrimp, and a little while later he left for home.
The man did not show up again for several days, and the bar owner began to worry because he had never before been absent for that long. The bar owner called the man’s house and asked, “Are you OK.”
“I’m fine,” the man replied, “but I can’t find my leg. I haven’t seen it since I came home from there the other day.”
A couple of days later, the man showed up at the bar at his normal time, wearing his artificial leg. The bar owner then asked him where he had found it.
The man related that he had searched the house high and low and finally made it out to his car to see if he had somehow left the leg there. It was hot weather, and when he opened the car door, the smell of rotting shrimp just about knocked him down. The shrimp had been in the hot car for several days, and the smell was so bad that the man never did get it out. He had to sell the car, very cheap.
Fortunately, the rotting shrimp made the man realize where he might have put the artificial leg.
He found it in the house, neatly tucked into the chest-type freezer where he had intended to put the shrimp.
Don Stratton is a retired inspector for the Lima Police Department. He writes a guest column for The Lima News, often focusing on police matters.