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ANOTHER MEMORY OF OUR 1980 RED FORD PICKUP By Steve Moreland – March 17, 2021

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Feb 11, 2005
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northern Nebraska Sandhills

By Steve Moreland – March 17, 2021

Carol’s sister and her husband, Julie and Terry Pitkin, lived in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. We had been there visiting, and were on the way back to our ranch near Merriman. I was driving our red single cab 1980 Ford F150 pickup, and Carol and her mother Jean McGaughey were sitting on the bench seat beside me. Little Will, who was about two years old, was laying across the two ladies’ laps. Car seats were the “new normal,” but many citizens (like us) had not gotten quite used to the concept. Besides, there wasn’t room for three adults and a car seat in a single cab pickup. However, there was room for three adults and a little kid if everyone crammed in close together.

We headed north from Scottsbluff, and eventually made the big curve to come into Hemingford from the west. We slowed down going through town, and then I kicked the speed up again as we continued east. There wasn’t a cop in sight, and certainly no reason to be traveling too slowly. I think this was also in the “gas conservation” time period when the national speed limit was restricted to a mind-numbing 55 miles per hour, even on the interstates.

All was well until we approached the stop sign before going north on Highway 385. Even though the highways had been devoid of patrol cars until this point, the reason now was obvious. All available cops and highway patrolmen were consolidated at this traffic stop. There had even been a “bear-in-the-air,” because an airplane had been using radar to spot speeding vehicles. I knew I’d been had.

A patrolman came to the left window of our pickup, and he asked to see my driver’s license. I tried to act nonchalant and innocent as I procured the proper permit out of my wallet. It was broad daylight, and he had no trouble assessing some of the rest of our offences. Altogether, I had five illegalities in my disfavor—speeding, four people in the front (and only) seat, none of us were wearing seatbelts, no child-restraint seat, and no proof of insurance. As he noticed the name on my license, the officer stated: “Moreland, any relation to Sybil?” I affirmed that Sybil was my sister. He then mentioned, “I just stopped her a few minutes ago as she was driving north from Alliance. She was also going too fast.” This news brought me a small bit of satisfaction, as misery loves company. He may have been breaking a confidentiality statute of some kind, but his words were still music to my ears.

I was nice to the officer, and we made a bit of irrelevant small talk. Wonder of wonders, he let me off with a warning. Upon comparing notes with my sister Sybil later that day, we discovered that I was actually traveling faster than she was. Speeding was her only offence, whereas I had several going against me. Poor Sybil got a significant monetary fine, and I was let off with merely a warning. Evidently the presiding patrolman felt compassion, and thought he’d already bled the Moreland family out of enough money for one time. This is still a slightly sore subject with my sister Sybil, even though nearly 37 years have passed since the incident.

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