Gazette Article by: Herb Timm
Appeared in the Gazette: Summer 1994
Winnetka Way articles are written by guest columnists who have been asked to share their memories of an aspect of Winnetka that they remember fondly. Winnetka Way articles debuted in 1994 and continue to the present.
Cooler by the Lake
On one August afternoon in 1960, nothing seemed more important than the success of the New Trier football team. We were the Indians then—before political correctness and split campuses—with a proud tradition. An important part of that tradition was pre-season training held on late summer afternoons. It was difficult to imagine that Paris Island could be more demanding. Our Heartbreak Hill was the sledding hill at Skokie Playfield; windsprints up and down this obstacle separated the men from the boys.
One especially hot afternoon, I drove my father’s car north on Hibbard Road with three of my teammates. I was determined to arrive at practice in plenty of time to stretch and build the courage to face the hill. Naturally we were late, and as we sweltered in our gym shorts and t-shirts, the breeze through the open windows provided the only relief. None of us noticed that the velocity of the wind was directly related to the speed of the car. Unfortunately, someone else did notice!
A Winnetka patrol car was suddenly on my tail, and I felt sick to my stomach when I realized that his red lights and siren meant that I was to stop and not merely pull to the side as he passed me on a mission of mercy. There would be no mercy for me today.
As I got out of the car, I realized how I must have looked in my shorts. Then my stomach tightened as I realized that my wallet and driver’s license were both safely at home. When I explained this to the officer, it only made things worse. In addition, my companions were not in the mood to confirm that the car was mine.
The officer didn’t smile when he explained that there were only two certainties that afternoon: one, it was cooler near the lake; and two, I was going to get a ticket. The added attraction was that I would have to follow him to the station to post bond. Since he had a passenger—the Chief of Police—he had no alternative.
That was when I saw him for the first time: Chief Don R. (Dead Right) Derning. He was sitting sternly in the passenger seat, and he was not amused. So I asked my friends to walk to practice, and I obediently followed the squad car.
Posting bond was an ordeal I will not forget. It wasn’t the catcalls and comments about my legs from the officers that bothered me as much as the humiliation of having to call my mother to ask her to post my bond. I quietly swore to myself that somehow I would get even.
Four years later I applied for the position of Winnetka Police Officer. Chief Derning smiled.