Monday, May 22, 2006
Robert Wayne Pedrick was a good cop. He joined the Raritan Township Police Department in 1971 and became their first fulltime detective in 1973.
I got to know Wayne when I worked for the Weiner King restaurant in Flemington, New Jersey. I started working there in 1968 and his then wife, Sue, was hired after that. She was a sweet looking blonde with a very nice personality and a body to match. I was pretty young back then and I was constantly sneaking peaks at the Weiner King girls. Until I fell in love. Wayne used to come in to eat lunch and see her. Every community has cops who are just cops and they also have cops with a fun sense of humor and a friendly demeanor. Such was Wayne.
We used to play poker games in my old friend, Frank's basement. A lot of those players were cops. I don't recall that Wayne ever played with us, since he was a good family man and all, but his was the personality that would have. Poker was against the law back then, too, but you pretty much never had to worry about Flemington's and Raritan's finest. They were regular guys. Guys you'd fish with. Guys you'd belly up to the bar with. Guys you'd gamble with. I think you might call them men's men. That was Wayne.
Soon after, a girl named Lois Deemer came to work. She was beautiful and put all of the other Weiner King babes to shame. I asked her out on her very first day, right there by the French fry warmer. She said yes and we dated for quite some time. She was my first love and she didn't seem to mind going out with a guy who smelled like onions all the time. One day, Lois and I went to a shop on Main Street, in downtown Flemington. They sold candles and things. Probably wind chimes. Gnomes. Knick knacks. Whatever. They also had one of those rotating racks filled with all kinds of exotic teas. I went over and started to fan through them. "Hey, Lois. Come here a minute. Doesn't this tea look a little bit like pot? Ah... look at this one. I'll bet if I buy these two and mix them..."
"Oh, yeah, Dave. Ha!" she responded, and so I did. Mixed them up back at my apartment and put them in a baggie that looked like it was about an ounce of high grade pot with all the seeds and stems removed. We had a plan and that plan had Wayne Pedrick written all over it.
We hopped in my MGB and drove to the Raritan Township Municipal Building. The police department was in the back, but a pay phone was up front. I called and asked for him. The dispatcher said he was out patrolling and she'd call him. What's your number? About 15 minutes later, Wayne called the phone booth. "Yeah, what's up, Dave?"
"Wayne? Lois and I were in the Prospect Hill Cemetery visiting her grandfather's grave and we found a bag of pot behind one of the gravestones." That was one of the ways sellers and buyers worked out their deals. They'd leave money and pick up the pot later. The cops knew all about it, but never busted anyone that I ever heard of. "You know me. I would have kept it, but Lois won't let me smoke it any more. She told me I had to turn it in to you."
"Where are you?" he asked. I told him. "I'll be right there. I'm heading that way anyway."
He soon pulled up next to me and got out of his unmarked vehicle, since he was a detective and all. I had the driver door open and Lois was sitting next to me. He walked over and I reached under my seat and pulled out the "illegal" stash and handed it over.
"WHOA..." he said, as he fondled the bag, eying it with total concentration. "This looks like really good stuff. Maybe Lebanese. Real quality, Dave. Thanks. I'm sending this to the lab in Trenton for analysis."
Uh oh. I hadn't thought about that. "You are? I just wanted to give it to you. I mean, Lois did. I would have kept it."
"No, that's what we do with it. I'll tell you what it is when the results come back. Thanks again, Dave." and off we all went. About a week later, Wayne came into the restaurant and approached me. He had a serious look on his face. This was not the kind of look I was familiar with, coming from my old buddy.
"Dave? That was tea. You embarrassed the hell out of me and you made a mockery of the entire Raritan Township Police Department. I am not happy with this at all." He meant it, too. Funny thing is, his wife never mentioned anything. She was just as friendly as ever. Maybe, he never told her. "You wait. I'll get even with you."
Years later, when I was in the Jaycees and Sue and Lois were both history, I used to play lob pitch softball against the PBA. Wayne was on that team. They always beat us. Heck, they were in-shape cops. We played for a quarter keg of beer. We always paid. We'd all sit around after each game and trade stories and stuff. It was the only time we knew we were safe driving home after drinking. If we were ever stopped, all we had to say was that we just lost to the PBA. Enough said. Wayne and I kidded each other one day about that trick I played on him. I fessed up and told him it was all my idea. Lois never had anything to do with it, so don't blame her.
You know, Wayne was always nice, even after scolding me that day. He'd even take me for rides once in a while. Cop stuff. And you know what? He never did get even. Such was Wayne. A really good guy.
In 2000, Wayne Pedrick retired from the police force after 28 years of good, solid work. Later on, he opened his own business, Stanton Ridge Landscaping, in Readington Township. He didn't have an awful long time to cultivate it. He passed away on May 10.
I salute you, Wayne. You were one of the finest.