It was January 1975 and I was 16 years old, and living in Queens Village.
I was home from school with the flu or a virus or sorts and had a temperature of 101, so Mom kept me in bed. She went off to work and my sister went to school that day. Dad was off that day from his job as an officer with the New York Police Department.
At about 9:30 a.m., Dad had to go to the store. OK, I had no problem with that. He simply said, “I’ll be back. Going to the store.”
Then I started to hear some metal noises coming from the kitchen. But I never heard the my dad’s car door close or him enter the house. Now, I was getting nervous.
The NYPD was transitioning from the emergency number 444-1234 to 911, and yes, I called the police. How was I to know that the person downstairs was my own dad?
So I made that call and then I quietly left my bedroom for a moment and went into Mom and Dad’s bedroom. There, Dad kept an extra nightstick. No way was I going down without a fight. So I was huddled in my closet scared out of my mind, or close to it.
For what seemed to be 10 minutes, I was hunched over. Then I started to hear footsteps slowly — very, very, slowly come up the stairs. Now I am beyond scared. Is my life about to end? Will I get to go to school later that week? What?
The next thing just shocked me. I was all set to defend myself when Dad walked into the bedroom. I jumped up into his arms and cried. He knew he scared me, and I told him so. But that was just the beginning. The next big thing was while Dad was sitting with me on my bed, our backs turned away from the front windows, two NYPD patrol cars showed up.
One was in the new design, which has been changed a few times, the other was the old green and white design. Dad then turned around and saw the two police cars. “You called the police?” he asked me.
Oh, he was furious. Next, he had to identify himself. He could not open the front or side doors. The drapes were drawn. He had only one option — go back upstairs and get his badge and go down again.
Standing with his back to the front door, he could only reach out with his arm — partially extended enough to show his badge. The officer at the front called the other three officers to the front of the house. My Dad then explained what happened and why. Hey, to me, this was an emergency. But why was Dad taking so long explaining? Was he being arrested?
To this day, I still never got the answer. Then after about 15-20 minutes, I did hear the front door close. Dad must have explained to the officers’ satisfaction and the police cars were gone.
But Dad learned something as well from that incident. A few hours later, he had to go to the store again. Before leaving, he said, “I’ll be back.” Then about 30-45 minutes later, I heard the car door close. I also heard the front door close. Then he called, “Jimmy, I’m back.” And it has been that way ever since. Whenever Dad came home, he called out, telling whoever was in the house that he was back.