My grandparents came to the USA at the start of the 20th century. My father’s parents came from Alsace in what is now Romania. My mother’s parents came from Counties Mayo and Galway in Ireland. My maternal grandfather came alone at age 12 and worked in a mine for a while. My other grandfather came with a trade. He was a pastry chef and found work in the hotels downtown.
They all worked hard and raised their children to respect their elders and to worship in the Catholic Church. Slowly, they bettered their lives until they were successful. Their children went to Catholic parish grade schools and then to good high schools. My mother and all her sisters as well as my father’s sister worked to make a living.
There was no sitting home collecting a check, back then.
My father and all my uncles were drafted into WWII and served in the South Pacific or Europe. When they returned home, they found jobs and set about making a living for themselves.
They stayed active in their parish churches and started families. My father stayed in the Army reserves and rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel. My uncle Jack did the same and retired as a full Colonel.
My cousins and I were all raised to respect others and their property. We went to Catholic parish schools and learned the Golden Rule and Ten Commandments. I take pride in the fact I was an altar boy back when the mass was still in Latin. I also spent time as a patrol boy when the safety belt was white, not orange.
The neighborhood I grew up in was extremely diverse. My grade school class had Mexicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Blacks, Filipinos, Japanese, Germans, Irish and Poles. We played together in the schoolyard.
Your social standing was determined by your ability to hit a ball in fast pitch or catch a pass in football. If you treated anyone unfairly or showed disrespect, the Nuns would dish out a swift punishment.
I went on to St. Ignatius college prep where my freshman year I shared a locker with a young black boy from the south side who became my friend for the four years there. At St. Ignatius, no one cared about your heritage. The only concern was good grades. The Jesuit philosophy is to rule the world by teaching the future rulers of the world.
I went on to a Christian Brothers college in Minnesota, where I learned to party and little else. I came home from that four-year plan in three years and went to work.
TIME TO WORK
Looking back, I have worked in some fashion since I was ten. I was a paperboy and later an office boy. I spent time as a city garbage man back when the garbage was put in 55 gal drums rather than these wheeled dumpsters we have now.
I was partners in a small photography store for several years. At age 26 I joined the police department. A short thirty years later, I retired to write. That brings us to today.
I tried all my life to treat people fairly. I tried to treat them the way I was raised – as a good Catholic. As a Police officer, Sergeant, and Lieutenant, I dealt with people from all parts of the world. They were wealthy and poor. Most were simply hardworking.
They were male and female, and I tried to show them all respect. I spent eight memorable years working Chicago’s Austin district. There, I met some nice people and some truly evil ones, as well.
As I was promoted, I tried to be fair to the officers working with me. Some were simply better than others, but I tried to use a colorblind eye with my decisions.
As a Lieutenant in command of a large unit, I faced many formidable challenges and I hope I dealt with my officers in the proper manner. Some people were rewarded and some disciplined. I did my best to ensure my decisions were based solely on their work performance.
When I retired, I felt confident I had been a good boss and good police officer. That’s how I want to be remembered.
Along the road I may have made mistakes. It was never intentional. I take solace in the fact that no one bats a thousand.
In the last couple weeks, two middle-class white people I know have accused me of being racist. After all of this, that hurt.
The talking heads proclaim that I am simply part of the systemic racism in the police department. That hurts too. I thought our department was well integrated and I have worked for or with many black supervisors and officers.
I recently saw looters tearing apart stores and businesses in their neighborhoods and hiding behind a mask of justice for a death in Minnesota.
I see politicians working hard to destroy a country I have pledged allegiance to thousands of times.
I remember journalists of the past who had morals and honor. They have been replaced by talking heads who have sold their souls, spouting venom against those who risk everything for our citizens.
That really hurts.
I wish these people would take a moment to look down the road and see what the effects of their actions will bring.
They won’t and, that hurts.
Stay safe my brothers and sisters in blue. Run low and zig zag.
Robert Weisskopf (Lt. CPD ret.)
“Above all, it’s about going home at the end of the shift … “
We couldn’t agree more.
Bob enjoys hearing from his readers – EMAIL
All of Robert Weisskopf’s magazine articles as well as links to his novels can be found at www.bobweisskopf.com.
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