Retired police officer shares humor through booksWritten by Caitlin McGlade | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Morrissey witnessed Toledo’s most violent underbelly.
Often it ensnared him, forcing him to fend it off or see fellow officers die trying. The horrific images threatened to unravel him as they did to many officers in the Toledo Police Department in the 1960s and ‘70s.
The drug busts and killings, coupled with frequent riots and Vietnam protests, pushed morale to a low place.
“People looked down on the police; we were the establishment,” Morrissey said. “They were calling us pigs and all this nasty stuff — the stress was unbelievable. I’ve seen some policemen break down, they quit … suicides … divorces.”
His long-term friend and fellow retired police officer John Annesser coped by leaving his uniform in his locker at the station, maintaining a 20-minute’s drive between his house and his office and generally keeping careful never to mix home life with work life.
Morrissey tried a different method — one that roused his inner writer to finish six books and managed to accrue enough popularity to warrant a $37 bidding price for a signed copy on eBay.
“I said I’m just going to keep a log of the funny stuff,” he said.
Morrissey spent 30 years on the Toledo Police Department. For every weird call to which he responded, he’d jot down a sentence or two recapping the scene. He’d review his list at the end of a tough day for some therapeutic laughter.
There was the “Nude Dude,” who captivated not just law enforcement but nationwide media with his naked exploits. He racked up more than 90 police reports by crawling into households through open windows and dancing and singing before families. The police station kept a map of Toledo, with red pins indicating where the “Nude Dude” had been spotted last.
Morrissey wrote in one of his books that he caught Capt. John Carley muttering to himself while sticking pins to the map: “Crazy son-of-a-b****. I’ve got murders, rapists, and burglars to find and I have to waste our time on a damned nut who dances naked.”
The “Nude Dude” was finally stopped by a woman who shot a railroad flair at his behind.
There was the goat, which mysteriously appeared in a woman’s basement, that officers took aboard their paddy wagon minutes before the dispatcher alerted them they needed to pick up a minister and take him to the hospital. He had suffered a heart attack and had passed out. The minister and the goat wound up sharing space in the paddy wagon; the minister awoke thinking he’d met the devil as the goat hovered over him.
And there was the man who was so desperate to total his car before the bank repossessed it that he took it to a railroad and attempted to push it in front of a train. When that failed, he followed a drunken driver and continuously stopped in front of him, hoping the driver would hit him. That failed, too.
These memories served a vital function. Morrissey recalled one night when a couple of officers responded to a family dispute. The gun-wielding father shot both. Morrissey and his partner followed up.
“That day we had that shoot out, I had blood all over me and I threw that shirt in the garbage can and I was really feeling low about those policemen,” Morrissey said. “I started reading those notes and it helped.”
Morrissey had no intention of writing books until one day at the beach in Florida, where he and his spouse moved upon retirement. A man passing by stopped and started a conversation with Morrissey about police work because he was wearing a police Olympics shirt. The man commented that Morrissey probably had some interesting stories.
Morrissey told him a few and the next thing he knew the man was inviting him to a writing circle full of people with masters and doctorates in English literature.
After some encouraging, Morrissey reviewed his old lists and started composing. He has also published books about playing football and his experience in the Korean War.
The writing circle Morrissey joined, the Treasure Coast Writers Guild, entertains subjects ranging from humor to mystery to memoir to fiction and nonfiction, said Gene Hull, the former president.
When Morrissey reads his stories to the group, the room always erupts in laughter, Hull said.
“It’s deceptively simple,” Hull said. “[Morrissey] just gets right to the point. His writing moves right along, and he’s not heavy on description. It’s so funny it would seem to be impossible it would be real … that everything actually happened.”