Holden Haze

By Rosalie Tirella

How lovely to be driving down Salisbury Street in Holden one night with my eyes aching from an alergic reaction I had to an old blanket I washed the day before! My eyes were hurting! Then just as I was about to turn onto Main Street, a car pulled out of the Holden Recreation Area parking lot on Salisbury Street. The car tailgated me with headlights on strong – and then boom! Sirens screeched and lights flashed. Yes, gentle readers, it was a Holden police officer in a Holden police cruiser! And when the cop stopped me and I looked up at him from my car window, he looked just about ready to shoot me. In Holden! One of the prettiest towns in Massachusetts!

He – Holden Police Officer Gregg Sculthorpe – tells me: You went over the yellow line (on the road).
I tell him: I went over the yellow line just a little because a car – yours – was on my tail with the headlights on strong! I told him my eyes were aching that day – I didn’t know why – and that I had made an appointment to see an opthamologist the next day. They really hurt! I also told the officer I have never had a chargeable accident, I am a good driver and citzen. Could I please have a warning instead of a ticket? My eyes hurt!

But hey, Holden’s finest, Officer Greggg Sculthorpe, was on the beat! No way was he gonna listen to my story. I have lived in some crumby places – but never, never ever – have I met up with a police office who revelled in being a major asshole. I thought ol’ Gregg was going to pull his gun on me! Officer Sculthorpe is Holden’s very own Officer Rojas! Officer Sculthorpe was an utter jerk: rude, arrogant, a bully – the last person you would call a public servant. The last person you would call community minded. The last person you would expect to find working for the Town of Holden.

First, the noise and the mayem caused by this officer set my little Husky mix “Jett” (he was in the car at the time) into a tizzy. He’s a rescue pup from mining country in Apalachia, was abused by men, and is afraid of abusive people. To have a big, white haired guy like Officer Sculthorpe get into our faces was too much for my little Jett. Later, when we finally got home, he tore up his comforter bed! White cotton/poly batting every where. He was that upset!

Does Holden need money – the cop gave me a $100 ticket – this badly? Was Gregg Sculthorpe trying to meet some quota – bring in money to the town of Holden and figured why not go after a middle-aged lady with a little newspaper and a little dog?

“This cannot be Holden!” I told my little dog Jett when I went back to the car after I got out of it to follow the officer and he walked out of his car and gun in holster, face in my face, told me to get back into the car.

I rubbed my eyes because they hurt so much. This cannot be Holden!” I told Jett.

Then I remebered the few times I have seen the Holden Police pull over drivers were when the drivers were 1. people of color 2. people who were not driving very nice cars (read: not upper middle class Holden home owners).

I myself drive a jalopy!

This is not right, and I told Officer Sculthorpe so. I gave him my business card and told him I would see him in traffic court, where hopefully they will understand why I deserved a warning and not a $100 ticket.

I went to the eye doctor and he told me: my corneas were a “mess,” they had filiments hanging on them and that I had a horrible reaction to something. He gave me steroid eye drops to treat the pain and inflamation.

Which brings me to this: Several years ago, I was driving down the steep Stafford Street in Charlton. It was about 3 a.m. and I had, along with my then-art director who lived in Charlton, had just put InCity Times to bed. We went “to press,” to the printer, and I was exhausted. And it had just snowed. I thought: God, Rose, drive very slowly – which I did. About 10 miles an hour.

No one was out – except a Charlton Police Officer. Well, his lights went on, he pulled me over and he said: You’re going awefully slow.

I looked up at him from my jalopy window. I told him what I just told you.

And you know what he did? The good man/the good cop from Charlton said: I don’t want you to get into an accident. I will follow behind you until you reach the Worcester line. And he did. I was way up on Stafford Street when we began our snowy trek together, and it was a long, exceedingly slow ride to the Worcester line. The Charlton Police officer was behind me all the way – not tailgating me – but comfortably (a car’s lengh, the way we learn in driving school) behind me, making sure I was safe.
And I felt safe – felt protected. It’s what police officers are supposed to do – help keep law abiding good citizens safe. Listen to extenuating circumstances. Use their heads – and their hearts – to make the right decision. Ultimately for their communities.

And I knew I had met a great cop, a great public servant: He had probably saved me from physical harm and kept his town safer … .

Not like Officer Gregg Sculthorpe of the Holden Police Department.

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