This "Rockman" is a retired Police Officer from Sioux Falls, S. Dakota
Life Has Been Very Good To Me
To begin with, I have fulfilled my child hood dream of being in Law Enforcement as well as teaching myself the ins and outs of Rocks and Minerals. Those thoughts were but dreams when I was a child growing up, but with persistence, they came true!
As a young child my interest in law enforcement became sparked through a television show entitled Highway Patrol, starring Broderick Crawford. In many of his shows, he seemed to go out of his way to help those less fortunate, and still took it to the limit in enforcing the law. I was impressed by his daily work tactics. You might say he was one of my heroes! The thought of being involved in Law Enforcement became stronger as the years went by.
Another individual that helped carve my desire for law enforcement was a Trooper Cecil Hoeman of the Nebraska Highway Patrol. Cecil was a boarder in my aunt’s house in Columbus, Nebr. I was always thrilled when we went to Columbus on vacation because I knew I was going to meet Cecil again. Cecil was a top notched officer in my thoughts. He would always invite me up to his rented 2nd floor apartment and always gave me some great insight into doing well, no matter what I undertook in life.
He always had his patrol vehicle parked on the side of my Aunt’s house when he was off duty. Many times he would take me to his car and explain how everything worked and what it was used for. I was amazed at the knowledge he seemed to have about law enforcement. The more time I spent with him, the deeper my love for law enforcement became. He had an answer for all my questions and there were many. If I ever bugged him, he certainly did not show it.
But first, I need to back up a ways here, to my graduating from High School. That was in 1962. My senior year I came to meet a young lady that eventually became my bride. Like most all young lovers, we vowed to never leave each other. That vow was severed when I had to join the US Army. Our being apart for that 1st year was to me, agonizing. I wanted Mary Kay close to me, so in the 2nd year of serving Uncle Sam, I took a personal leave, came home to Kimball, Nebr. and we were married in 1965. It was a large church wedding, with all the bells and whistles. Mary Kay and her mother made all the arrangements, and did a great job of it I might add. The only thing missing was my mother. We had lost her several years earlier to Cancer. I know then and still do know that she is resting comfortable with our Creator. After the wedding, Mary Kay & I returned to Virginia to finish my stint in the Army. We were not actually rolling in the dough via Army pay, but we made the best of a bad situation.
We lived off base in a small house and lived from paycheck to paycheck. We were very joyful when my time was up, and we again returned to Kimball, Nebr. An odd job here and there soon caused me to long for my childhood dream of a career in Law Enforcement.
I applied to the Nebraska State Patrol, only to find out my height requirement was ½” short. Obvious they did not know that dynamite could come in small packages! I was devastated. I then applied to the South Dakota Highway Patrol, and temporarily accepted, only to learn that one needed to be a resident of the State for one year prior to being hired. Again, devastation! What to do, what to do? Being turned down twice for a job that I desperately wanted, only made me want it that much more.
We decided to move to South Dakota and join the Sioux Falls Police Department, fulfill the year’s requirement as a resident, then apply again to the Highway Patrol. That first year on the Department, soon became a second year, then a third. By then I was very happy being a member of the Police Department and decided to fore go joining the Highway Patrol. I went on to complete 18 years with the Department, and enjoyed every minute of it.
There were several high points in my career.
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My first highlight in law enforcement was in June of 1977.
I was picked to be one of the bodyguards to none other than Elvis Presley. He performed a concert at the Sioux Falls Arena. All the bodyguards were working crowd control both during the selling of tickets and the actual concert.
One incident I recall as if it was just yesterday. There were only a limited number of tickets available due to the seating space. When that number was sold, the doors were closed, leaving many still standing in line on the outside. This one young lady became very upset when it was announced “no more tickets”! She began to scream and cry out of control. Soon the majority of the women still standing in line followed her queue. But the doors were locked to any more ticket sales. Several hollered through the glass doors that they would be willing to pay double the price, but no one came forward to take them up on their offer.
Being one of the body guards, I did not need a ticket, and I was lucky enough to be stationed at the left front very near the stage. I thoroughly enjoyed the concert. Not one disturbance erupted during the entire show.
Elvis Aaron Presley was born January 8, 1935 and had succumbed to death on August 16, 1977. at the young age of 42, only two months after the concert in Sioux Falls.
Elvis Presley throughout most of his life had developed many health problems, some of them being chronic.
He was dubbed as The King of Rock 'n' Roll and he was very good at it. I was impressed with him. Too many youngsters, this day and age have not been able to experience Elvis in his prime. All they have to go on now is the talent-less impersonators that try to mimic what Elvis could do, and they do not do a very good job at it in my opinion.
One of my favorite Elvis songs was “How Great Thou Art”. It is a well known fact that Elvis very much enjoyed his gospel music but in the end, health problems, prescription drug dependence, and other factors led to his untimely death. Never the less, my memory of him is still quite vivid in my mind.
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One other highpoint was in 1980.
I was chosen to be the personal bodyguard of Ted Kennedy, as he campaigned for the Office of the Presidency, however he eventually lost that campaign effort to Jimmy Carter.
He stayed the night in Sioux Falls, and stayed at the Ramkota Inn. My room was exactly across the hall from his room. My door had to be left slightly open the entire time so I could hear if there were any problems or disturbances arising in the hallway. I had a nice big King size bed, but it never got used, it was not allowed. I had planted myself in an easy chair just inside my room and could look across the hallway to the door of Mr. Kennedy. Several times during the night, I received a phone call advising me that so and so was coming to Mr. Kennedy’s room to talk. I had to meet the visitor at the door, identify him, then allow him entrance to Mr. Kennedy’s room. Several times through the night, Mr. Kennedy came into the hallway, if for no other reason I thought, was to just get away from his wife Joan. She must have cried the entire night, as I heard her crying with out stopping for what seemed like hours on end. I guess that would make anyone want to get some peace.
In one of his appearances in the hallway, we struck up a conversation. He thanked me for being present and looking out for him. I was elated to say the least! To me, he was a mountain of a man, much taller than I was, and broad about the shoulders. He was only 12 years older than I was at the time and had accomplished so much. He was very well dressed, looked impressive and not a hair out of line. I felt very special just being able to speak to him.
He asked about my family, probably just making small talk, but to me that was an important few minutes in my life.
He did mention that Joan was having a bad night of it, “(as you probably have heard her crying”). What response can you say to that except, “some days are just like that sir”, and he shook his head yes, and a smile became visible. “Before he returned to his room for the last time, he shook my hand, thanked me for my presence and wished me the best in my future years.
I shall cherish those moments for the rest of my life.
Joan and Ted remained together during that failed Presidential Campaign, and shortly after announced plans to divorce. Their divorce became final in 1982.
I never mentioned it to him, but I was glad that he had lost the campaign. I feared that if elected, his fate may just end up like his two brothers, John & Robert. That I did not want to see happen!
He went on to become “The Lion of the Senate" through his respected influence. I admired him up to the day he died.
What a memory he has given me.
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A.I.M. Courthouse Riot
Another memory that I vividly recall, but certainly not a welcome highlight, was the AIM Court House Riot in Sioux Falls, SD in 1974.
The trial came to be from actions in 1973, in which both Russell Means & Dennis Banks were involved in during the Siege of Wounded Knee in South Dakota at Wounded Knee S.D. Wounded Knee was a small town on the reservation. During that uprising, two Indians died and a federal marshal was paralyzed.
Both Means and Banks were each charged with 10 felony counts against them over this Indian insurrection that lasted for 71 days.
As the trial commenced to get under way, many insurgents started a melee between court officers and the Riot Squad.We were standing by just in case an incident did occur.
During the ensuing melee, large plate glass windows were shattered in the 3rd floor court room. It was a loud, stress and anger filled situation. Court pews were ripped up off the floor and tossed through the 3rd floor windows to the ground. What windows weren’t broken by the pews, were broken out with whatever was available including chairs. Many of the windows were broken by rocks that were carried in in women’s purses.
It seemed to be the longest day of my life but it only lasted about an hour or so.
After the intense heat of battle, there were pools of blood all over the floors of the hallway and court room, broken furniture littered every corner, injured limp bodies lying everywhere amidst the shards of broken glass. It definitely looked like a war zone.
Many participants of the riot had to be taken to the hospital, including several Officers. I was one of the lucky ones. I was bleeding from cuts yes, but physically intact, with the exception of my uniform, for it was total trash! I recall one sleeve of my uniform coat was missing, along with my name tag that Russell Means ripped off of my shirt. When that happened, the last words he said was “we have the name of another family to go after”, holding my name tag high in the air.
That is when I lost it, and feared for my family. At that point I became an animal just like he was. I don’t want, & never have since then, repeated the action I then took! It was barbaric but I feared for my life and the life of my family!
This riot was more or less spearheaded by members of the American Indian Movement, (AIM), and involved Russell Means, Dennis Banks, Leonard Peltier, Carter Camp, Clyde Bellecourt, and many cronies of the AIM and their women folk.
The riot was well thought out ahead of time as it was obvious after seeing the results of what just happened.
Those same perpetrators that claim injustice being done to their people, are willing to let their own people languish in run down windowless shacks they have to call home. Most have no education and no hope for tomorrow. Yet, their leaders are satisfied to sit and wait for the rewards of life, which will not come while they just sit and wait. They whine about who owes who what, but do not approach the struggles of a functional adult with anything more than fault finding accusations. With thoughts like that, they are destined for failure.
They want freedom, but that freedom totally depends on ones individual rights and responsibility.
When ones mindset is “it is everyone else’s fault”, no one is willing to take responsibility, therefore no one can move forward in life and no one achieves. Those type of thoughts cause downfalls.
No one can go through life by being totally dependent on someone else. That will lead to devastation!
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There were many highpoints in my life so far. Only the most memorable were mentioned here.
My current highpoint in my life, is what I am now engaged in and have been for years. That is hunting the elusive Fairburn Agate, making Spheres, Marbles, Sun Catchers and Lamp Shades, all out of rocks and minerals. I also enjoy making cabs, ring sets, earrings, pendants and do occasionally dabble in wire wrapping.
I guide many visitors from across the United States each year to rock hunting areas. Some of those visitors have even been from foreign country's.
Interest in rocks and minerals make for a wonderful life, and to think that this all started with my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Marilyn Siebenahler. I owe her a lot.