I had worked my way through the Armdale Rotary and was heading up Quinpool Road when I saw him ahead. He had a gun pointing right at me as he casually stepped out onto the road.
“Here we go,” I thought, realizing one of Halifax’s finest had a radar gun aimed straight at the vehicle in which I was taking my 94-year old mother Edith for a spin.
During the next few anxious seconds in don’t-pull-me-over limbo, I thought about the first time I came face to face with police radar.
Although the technology had been around since the first traffic radar trap was set up near Glastonbury, Connecticut in 1947, it wasn’t until the mid-1960s that the then-latest weapon in the police arsenal to catch speeding drivers made its way to the back roads of Atlantic Canada.
Just sixteen with fresh driver’s licences, twin brother Larry and I were heading west out of Moncton with our girlfriends for a just-what-they wanted evening of roaring engines and the smell of raw fuel and burning rubber at the stock car races in River Glade, New Brunswick.
Our ride that evening more than 50 years ago, was a spanking new, sky-blue 1968 Cougar with a hulking 6.5-litre V8 engine.
Larry was driving. Holly Bell, his future wife, was riding shotgun in the passenger seat. My date and I were cozily crammed into the back seat of Mercury’s ‘pony-car’ answer to Ford’s Mustang, Chevy’s Camaro and Plymouth’s Barracuda.
It was the same Cougar that I had recently received a $50 reckless driving charge just two weeks earlier, following an impressive burn-out in front of an unmarked RCMP cruiser. That dose of stupidity lopped five points off my drivers licence.
I was pontificating to my date about the Cougar’s rear sequential turn signals and hidden headlights when an oncoming car flashed its lights at us.
“Look at that, Larry. They want us to turn the lights on so they can see the headlight covers open!”
Another oncoming car flashed its lights. Then Larry noticed an RCMP officer on the side of the road waving us over.
“Ahhhh. I forgot my wallet and driver’s licence,” growled Larry, pulling over. The officer eyed the hot-looking Cougar.
No sweat, I thought, slipping Larry my driver’s licence. Hey the identical twin gig was about to pay off; same face, same address, same birthday. The officer was obviously doing a routine check and we would soon be on our way.
Not so. The stern-faced Mountie handed Larry a speeding ticket for 12 miles per hour over the limit then offered us a glimpse at the radar gun flashing 52 in the 40 mph speed zone.
Alas, the three points came off my driver’s licence, not Larry’s.
So along with the aforementioned five-pointer from the burn-out session, I was down to just 2 points on my drivers licence while Larry still had 10. It has taken over 50 years to confess this publicly. Surely, though, more than a half century later, something about the statute of limitations must be legally protecting me from that teenage digression.
And now I’m getting pulled over on Quinpool Road by another radar-toting policeman just a few blocks from home. In front of my mother!!
But wait. Yes! He waves me by and pulls over the car behind me. Nervous laughs and chuckles fill the cockpit.
“What’s going on, Garry?” Mum asks. “You looked a little pale back there.”