Stand up for what is right

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Just now, my thoughts are interrupted by a police car speeding by with blue lights flashing.

One of my favorite TV shows is Bluebloods; Mike and I even tape the reruns. The show gives us a brief peek into the lives of a multigenerational family, most of whom have devoted themselves to the honorable endeavor of keeping the rest of us safe. I can imagine the toll it must take to have such responsibility. Dealing with people who have given themselves to a life of crime surely brings its own set of challenges, and I hold the men and women who do so in high regard.

My musings remind me of an occasion that my family, although in the right, felt on the wrong side of the law.

In the 70s, my big brother, Paul, noticed a car that had broken down and was parked on the side of the road. He hopped on his 10-speed bike and rode down the street to see if he could help. “Hey man, my name is Paul. Are you having trouble? I live in the white house on the hill a block or two down, and I thought you might need some help. Can I call someone for you?”

“No, thank you,” the young black man answered, somewhat nervously. “I’ve called my parents, and they’re on the way. I was headed to Jackson when my car played out on me.”

Paul reluctantly left the young man not much older than he but kept an eye out of his upstairs window. Something about the situation bothered him. My big brother mentioned, “I’ll be glad when that guy’s parents show up. He said he was afraid to be on the side of the road in a white neighborhood. Even though I told him he could stay at our house until his parents come, he seemed really worried.”

Sadly, his fears were not unfounded. Paul bounded down the steps and quickly peddled to the car when he saw red lights flashing. He found a mess in progress. The car was in the process of being towed, even though the young fellow told the wrecker driver he was waiting for his parents.

Paul insisted they put the car down. The wrecker driver refused, stating that the police had called and told him to tow the car out of town. After a heated argument the older man understood that even though Paul was a kid in high school he wasn’t going to back down. Instead of towing the car out of town, it was towed to our front yard. They charged the poor frightened young man $200 to tow his car against his will two blocks to our yard. In the 70s, this was a lot of money.

We were disgusted. The fellow’s parents soon showed up and were so appreciative for the help. Good people come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. My brother was a good one.

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at