Shoot the Car! I Need Me Some Relief!

Shoot the Car! I Need Me Some Relief!

     I recall a time when cars did not have air conditioning, and when they did, many police cars still did not have the add-on feature. To save cost, skinflint supervisors ordered fleets of cars without AC, but of course their cars had AC. In the Military Police, “back in the day,” on dayshift we had to wear our class A uniforms on day shift. Whether tan or the green “suit”, we had to wear that big-ass, white hat inside the car. The hat that rubbed on the interior roof if you were over 5 feet tall, and turned the top of your hat gray. Yet we’d see the Provost Marshal (like the police commissioner) driving in his sedan with AC and hat off. His hair all blowing in the AC wind tunnels like a big dog. It’s nice to be king! Evenings and midnights we switched over to fatigues, but hot is hot in Oklahoma and Texas,and in the deep south.

DressClass A copy

     Shoot the car! What? Wait, stay with me. Shoot the car for ventilation? Or for draining? Every once in awhile some eager officer would draw out his gun too soon during a chase, hit a bump and shoot the car. The floorboards. Under the dash. One time in Texas, an officer who shall remain nameless, held his gun, hit a bump, shot his car and killed it. Dead right there. I don’t remember exactly where he shot, but it hit the engine and killed it. This would also happen with interior “quick draw practice.” Or the anxious officer would draw his gun out in a chase and lay it on the seat. Well, when you are driving at a hunnert miles an hour, a slight turn or braking, and that six gun would fling itself all over the car, along with the french fries and burgers). But back to shooting the car…for draining?


     A lot of these old police cars had bullet holes in their floorboards. On purpose. No accident. I was reminiscing with another old vet and we were talking about the ice bag trick. Various ice houses and stores back then often gave free big bags of ice to officers, or sold them, in the summer. Some ice houses just stacked them by their back, open loading doors and cops would drive by and throw them into the cars.

     The trick was to shoot the floorboard, you know center-mass. You go out and drive over some soft dirt or sand, shoot the floor and the bullet buried into the ground. In them-thar days, the outside bottoms of cars did not have the Buck Rogers technology of today’s cars. It just made a nice clean hole in the body, if you knew where to aim. Next, the big ice bags are plopped on the floorboards. The vent fan was turned up full, and wala! Ice bag air conditioning. Primitive, but better than nothing.

ice bag copy

     The floorboard holes were needed for the condensation and ice bags to eventually drain. The driver needed a little makeshift barrier to keep his bags from the pedals. Better than nothing, and your cowboy boots would keep your feet from freezing off, usually. But passengers could ride with their feet high up under the dash.

As I recall, you would certainly get into official trouble for shooting your car, but many veteran supervisors did this in their good ol summer days, too. So. Mums the word. If your supervisor were “cool” the word would get about such pending inspections. And these were fleet cars back then, not necessarily assigned to any one, two or three officers. So finger pointing alibis were engaged. What? Who?

     Everyone knew where they could get their holes plugged if need be, for any planned inspections. We had a day or two to fix things, and in emergencies, we all had a few midnight shift, open garage/gas stations back then to race to when we had a such fix em up emergencies with our cars. But that’s another batch of stories.

      Finally cars were manufactured in such a way that it cost extra to remove the FM radios and air conditioners, frustrating sadistic administrators! Play rock in the cool breeze! And we peons ruled the day! Viva la revolution!

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