IBM Selectric II! YAY! I was the only typist for 12 detectives & the Lt. But the Head Secretary was sure I could excel.
She was a tall, beautiful, ebony-haired woman named Rose. She’d been the country’s first female race car driver. I admired her so much. We became work buddies & then off-hour pals.
All the detectives, Rose & I worked like fiends & partied like maniacs. 5 shots of tequila was de rigueur for after-hours. At one point, after about 2 months of working at the PD, Rose clocked my typing. 120 wpm. Still not up to her 135 wpm!!
There were many intense hours spent at that place. Rapes, homicides–including a horrific child murder–robberies were daily events. I was in charge of typing up detectives’ reports, filing them, checking pawn shop receipts against theft reports, answering the phone non-stop. During one intense case, Rose clocked me at 52 calls per hour, while typing!
The strangest event was when Robert Redford’s daughter’s fiance was shot & killed. It was horrifying. The evidence all pointed to his room-mate, drug dealer Thayne Smika. He & Sid Wells were room-mates. Sid was an intern at a Denver news station. He was well-liked, eager to please. So (it was surmised by the cops) he took some of Thayne’s cocaine to present at an after-hours news party. Not OK. Thayne was known for being erratic. He never got up, according to neighbors, before Noon. But on the day of the murder, people saw him up at dawn, throwing out trash.
The Lt. & his right-hand man, Dan, went to interview Thayne’s mother. She produced a gun. She told the officers, “he came home to do laundry. He spent an hour cleaning this gun.” But Smika disappeared.
During the fracas, reporters swarmed around the PD. I fielded calls from press, Sid’s family members, Shuana Redford & many witnesses. I forwarded calls to the Lt., the Sheriff’s Office, to the DA’s. Others, I put on hold & took messages.
One day, a caller said “It’s Robert Redford…” I took a deep breath. The guys were fond of playing tricks on me.
“Bullshit, is this Dan? I have too much to do to be bothering with your stupid jokes.” Silence. Then: “This IS Robert Redford & I demand to speak with whoever is in charge of the Sid Wells case.”
The Lt. was at my desk, “Hand that phone to me, Miss Elder.”
He spoke for 3 minutes, then tore me a new one.
I’ve never blushed that badly in my life.
“Am I fired?”
“Hell, no. We need your speed. Get typing!”
The next time Mr. Redford called, I apologized profusely.
“Well, we’re all upset. We just need to get this solved.”
Rose came upstairs one day & announced “Redford is going to be here next week. No one is to bother him. She shot me a harsh look. So when the Sheriff’s secretary called me to say, “Redford is in the house!” I sat at my typewriter, 120 wpm. Everyone else got a look at the harried actor.
He met with Sheriff Joe Pelle, the Lt., the Chief of Police & detectives on the case. Shauna dropped out of CU. The press hounded her at every turn. It was horrific. I hated paparazzi already but felt intense animosity toward them after that case.
My 30th birthday fell during that case. A beautiful bouquet of red roses was delivered to my desk. The card said “Thank you. R.” I never knew if the guys were kidding, wanting me to think Robert Redford had sent me roses. I didn’t ask, just savored the beautiful scent of the flowers as I speed typed away. One night, catching 3 or 4 hours’ sleep, I woke up & my hands were held up above my face. I was typing in my sleep!
After working sometimes 38 hours straight at the Detective Unit, I’d go dancing with John & other friends. We often went to the Hilton Harvest House. The 80s were great for music. We loved The Clash, The Pointer Sisters & I especially fell in love with Diana Ross’s “Upside Down.”
I had fallen upside down in love with a gorgeous, tall Irish detective. He had wavy, dark brown hair, Levi-blue eyes, long dark eyelashes. He was shy & hard-working. Dan was the Lt’s right-hand man. He never insisted on his reports being done first, as so many of the other detectives did. He’d just ask, in his soft voice:
“So, Dixie–do you think you could get time to do my report by tomorrow?”
Of course I would! My heart beating 200 mph, I’d say, “10-4!”
Dan & the Lt. were best friends on & off the job. My pal Rose had a wild crush on the Lt. He was married but everyone (except him) knew his wife was seeing a co-worker. We should have told him but no one wanted to see his feelings hurt. He was a super guy, hard-working as hell. He never asked the detectives to do anything he wouldn’t do, including get into really dangerous situations with seriously bad criminals.
He was 6’5″ & bought his clothing at the Big & Tall Men’s Shop. He’d grown up on a farm & was strong. Since I had filed for divorce from the Evil Ex, that horrible guy began stalking me. The Lt. made me feel protected.
The Ex came to the PD one night, stuck a shotgun barrel through the speaking hole in the bullet-proof glass & yelled: “Whore! You divorced me!”
Two detectives came running out, guns drawn.
“It’s OK, he’s my husband.”
I was so used to K. threatening me with guns, it didn’t phase me.
One detective went out into the lobby, grabbed K’s hands behind his back & took the shotgun from him. The other told me, “No it is Not OK, Dixie. I cannot believe you are still typing!!”
They asked if I wanted K arrested. I said no. I knew if I had him locked up, it would be worse for me.
For years, he had followed me everywhere I went. I moved 4 times in Boulder, trying to escape him. At first, I lived with JD & his room-mates. But K showed up (he’d stolen my address book from my sister’s house) & banged on the door. When John & two of his male room-mates insisted K get out, he squatted on the lawn & yelled “I am not leaving without Dixie!!”
One day, when he was nowhere in sight, I took my Mustang & went looking for another place to live. I found a beautiful townhouse in Nederland. With my good salary at the PD, it was easy to pay first & last month’s rent. As I was signing the rental forms, I took out a photo of K.
“Please never let this guy into my place. He is dangerous.”
The landlord glanced at the photo & agreed. I got all moved in & was happy in my job & new home. But one night when I got home from work, John called. He talked a mile a minute, in his North Carolina accent.
“Dixie, honey. I am SO sorry. K would Not leave. We tried Everything. He said ‘I am going to live in the tool shed & bake potatoes in a hole in the ground.’ And he got a shovel & started diggin’ a hole!”
That cracked us both up, even though we knew how violent K was. I’d told John everything when we worked together at Blackstone Jr. High. He’d seen first-hand K punching holes in walls, bellowing like a wounded bullock.
I told John I’d run off to a motel after K put a gun to my head one night. He’d found my white Mustang, after searching all over the county. Kicked the door down to my motel room, grabbed me by the hair. The motel owner rushed over, telling me “You make nice with hubby. I can’t have my motel torn apart like this! Now ya’ll go on home.”
I’d told John about the abuse when we moved to Connecticut. It never ended. I’d go stay with church friends for a night & K would ramble around Wilton, searching until he spotting my white Mustang. Threaten to kill me & anyone who gave me shelter. I should have sold the Mustang & bought a dull looking car. That might have thrown K off for an extra few days.
One day, I was visiting K’s sister & their mother at Cary’s & Lars’ home. They had a beautiful swimming pool. Cary said, “C’mon. Let’s go for a swim.” K had punched me in the stomach the night before. Neighbors had called the cops. K drove away before the arrived. The big Sioux officer told me, “Guys like him always end up killing their wives. You must get away from him.” I had huge bruises all over my belly. He never hit me where anyone could see marks.
I told Cary, “I don’t feel like swimming today.”
“Are you kidding? You always love to swim.”
“I don’t have a bathing suit with me & I could never fit into your tiny bikinis!”
Cary pulled up my shirt, saying “Just go in your underwear.” Then she saw the horrible bruises. “He did this! That bastard! I’ll kill him.” Her first husband had beat her bloody. She was enraged.
“An animal!” cried Mrs. G. “I gave birth to an animal!”
K showed up 20 minutes later & Cary leaped on his back. She was tiny but tough. She smacked him in the face.
“Mooom!” he yelled, “Get her off me!!”
“You deserve it.” Mrs. G sat at the kitchen table & smoked a Camel non-filtered cigarette. I got into my Mustang & drove to New York City. Parked & wandered around, feeling awfully trapped.
K’s parents thought living near them in Connecticut would make him calmer. Obviously, it didn’t.
In Westport, I worked for my brother-in-law, Lars-Eric Lindblad. I was a gopher, doing odd jobs at Lindblad Travel. No special treatment. Later, Lars paid for me to go to computer school so I could learn to use the equipment necessary for me to type up his autobiography. I loved that job!
It was “ghost written” by the authors of “The Ghost of Flight 401,” John & Liz’ Fuller. John, Liz, Lars & his wife Cary (K’s sister) & I would get together at the Fuller’s house. We’d spend hours, telling stories, drinking wine & discussing wild topics like UFOs, ghosts, deep sea diving & Lars’s adventure travel.
K began driving limo for his Uncle Joe. He’d get calls late in the night, take his guns out of the closet & carry them down to the limo. He would never tell me what was going on, no matter how urgently I asked.
So at 3:00 a.m. one dark night, I snuck out to my Mustang & followed him. I stayed well behind the limo’ so he wouldn’t realize I was following. He went all the way to New Jersey, to a dock. I let him park & watched him walk down the pier toward a shack. I quietly tailed him.
There was Uncle Joe! What the heck? When Uncle Joe saw me, he said in his raspy, cigar smoking vocce, “Dixie, wives don’t need to be involved in the business. Go on home now. We’ll see you for dinner at our place Sunday.”
Uncle Joe was K’s mother’s brother. My mother-in-law was the only one of 13 children born in America. The others were born just outside of Florence in beautiful Northern Italy. Joe’s living room furniture was covered in plastic. His wife was a fantastic Italian cook, like K’s mother & all his aunts. We stuffed ourselves on meatballs, spaghetti, lasagna, big salads & cheesecake every Sunday, going from one relative’s home to the next.
When Cary’s husband Lars took us out, it was to Ships restaurant in Westport or another fancy spot. Cary & I hated cooking, so we were great restaurant hostesses.
The day after that weird night at the pier, I went riding around with K’s younger brother & his fiancee. His fiancee’s father had just gotten out of prison where he’d served time for shooting up a cafe in New York City. Something about the mafia.
I said “K was at this New Jersey pier with Uncle Joe. It was 3:00 in the morning. It’s like he’s in the Mob.”
G laughed & pulled the van over, tears streaming down his face.
“Dixie, K’s in the mob, I’m in the mob, she’s in the mob!! We’re all mobbed up.”
“What!? Since when?!”
“Since before The Flood.”
I was in shock. I’d read The Godfather. Everyone but me had seen the movies. Was I Kay Corleone? Clueless wife?
Lots of people mistook me for Diane Keaton back then in Connecticut & when I went into New York City. I’d been wearing Annie Hall type clothes since I was 19. Baggy trousers, a shirt under a vest, necktie, hat. My voice was like hers, too. I stuttered, stammered, started a sentence then switched gears. My hair was the same style she had in the early 80s. So people would stop me on the street & say, “I hate bothering you but wanted to say I Loved your last movie.”
The first few times, I said “Oh–uh, um I’m not her, who you think I am. Diane. No, gosh! Geeze, wish I was. haha But no, sorry.”
Well, that way of talking Convinced everyone I was really her but that she didn’t want to be annoyed by fans. So after a few folks walked away, unhappy with Ms. Keaton’s rejection, I began signing autographs & being super friendly. I apologize now for those fake autographs!!
So I was Married to the Mob! And now in Colorado, trying to escape K yet again. One night after a hard day’s work at the PD, I unlocked the door to my Nederland townhouse. In the dark livingroom sat K. His shotgun was laid across his crossed legs. “There you are, baby. Didn’t think I could find ya, did ya! I’m too smart for you!” He cackled like a maniac.
I ran upstairs to the bedroom & locked the door. He banged on it, cursing away. Neighbors rang the doorbell. I opened my window & yelled,
“It’s OK. Just my Ex acting crazy.”
I didn’t want him to shoot them for trying to help me.
I called the landlord. “Why did you give him a key?”
“He seemed OK. Said you two’d had a lover’s spat but he was back from a business trip. He had flowers & candy for you.”
“NO! I told you he was dangerous!”
I called the Lt. He phoned Sgt. Smith, who lived not far away in the mountains. Smith came right over & ousted the Ex. I had to move from that lovely townhouse. Luckily, my new cop friends helped. I moved from one cop’s home to another, sleeping on fold-out sofas & in guest rooms.
It took 6 months but the divorce was finally stamped & decreed. By then, I was seeing the Lt. He was kind & strong. I felt safe with him. When he first asked me out, I said “But you are married. And I’m in love with Dan.”
“Yes, but Dan is dating Anna & my marriage is on the rocks.”
So we’d go for drives in his pick-up, stop for burgers, fries & cokes at The LA Diner. Sit & talk about cases, life on the farm, my evil Ex, his sons, travel. We did not have sex during the many dates.
But after we’d known each other for 10 months, he invited me for a weekend at Copper Mountain, a ski resort. I knew that meant sex. Well, he’d be divorced soon, I reasoned. And he was nice, a great guy. Dan wasn’t anywhere near to falling in love with me, as much as I’d tried.
So I called my younger sister for advice. Her divorce had been made final one month after mine. We were like twins, even tho’ she was 5 years younger than me. We talked on the phone 3 or 4 times a day. The Lt. & I had gone down to her house in Manitou on his big motorcycle. She & her little daughter Kerra loved him.
my sister Kathi lying in sunshine at her & her husband Pete’s home in Black Forest, CO. She died the year this photograph was taken. I miss her every day.
“The Lt. is a great guy. You are divorced & free. Have fun!”
Next, I called John. “Girl, that man is a Hunk & a Half.”
“But I’m in love with Dan.”
“I’ll take him.” John chortled. John had come out the year prior to family & friends. We already knew but never outed him. He’d struggled with being gay all his life. He was a devout Christian, like me. We both had 200 Commandments emblazoned in our brains. John is now happily married to a great guy. He deserves the best!
So with the advice of my cohorts, I rode up to Copper Mountain in October of 1983. It was a gorgeous day. Our hotel room had a TV set in it. The Lt. flipped it on & there was David Byrne singing “Once in a Lifetime.” I’d never seen MTV. Or any music videos. Byrne was slicing one hand up the other arm. “That is so anthropological.” I said.
“Not sure what you mean by that but it’s good music.”
I won’t go into detail about the sex.
Let’s just say his boots were size 14. Holy Cats!
page from an 80s photo album. At the Chief’s insistence, the Lt., Dan & I took 2 weeks off after working hellbent on a child murder case, racking up OT.
So the Lt., Dan & I took a train trip from Denver to all over the West.
We got off the train in Utah for 2 hours.Walked around. Dan kept taking notes in his policeman’s flip-book. “What are you writing?” I asked.
“Just keeping in practice.” I snatched the booklet from him. He’d drawn sketches of people at the train station & made notes on their clothing, hair styles, etc. Not a moment’s rest for him!
After Utah, we rode to Seattle. Stayed there 2 days/nights. Wandered around the college district in a downpour. It was beautiful. Ate dinner in The Needle. Rode a ferry up to Vancouver, gorgeous flowers blazing on a sunny afternoon. I love the Pacific NW.
Back on the train & down to San Francisco. Stunning city. Loved it! The Lt. asked an Asian woman as we were strolling down the Wharves, “what is that scent you are wearing?” It was Opium. He bought me a bottle of that perfume for my b-day & Valentine’s Day from then out.
We stopped in Reno for a day & a night on that train trip. I hate gambling so did Not enjoy that town. We stayed in the Cheapest motel of all time! One room. I said,
“I will sleep on the floor. I’m not getting into bed with either of you!” But after 10 minutes on that filthy, thin carpet, I crawled into bed with Dan. “Hands to yourself,” he insisted. Always thinking of his Lady Love back home.
We’d had a sleeping car on the train & huge hotel rooms in the other cities, with big King sized beds. So there had been tons of room for all 3 of us on 2 giant hotel beds.
Dan won $300 in a slot machine at one casino. The Lt. & I begged him to cash in his chips & keep the money. But he lost it all at craps.
The guys wouldn’t let me photograph them on the trip, since it was not OK to “fraternize.” But that is Dan’s arm feeding a seagull on ferry from Seattle to Vancouver. Car was the Lt’s.
When we got home from the trip, Rose cornered me at work, “Are you screwing the Lt.?” I knew she would kill me if she found out so I said, “We go out for cokes & we hug a lot. But that’s it.”
“Bitch.” She muttered.
From then on, she’d smack into me whenever we passed each other in the hallways. She began over-monitoring my work, marking in red imagined mistakes. The Chief & Lt. told her to settle down. But after a few months of that treatment, I’d had enough. I found a job with a law firm.
The cops gave me a huge going away party. The sketch artist, a gifted man, drew a big card that said “We wish Dixie would stay!” It featured a Confederate flag with my name on it. I will never escape The Old South. Detective Zado said, “I wouldn’t let anyone push me out of my job.” Dan signed the card “Clint.” I’d always thought he looked like a young Clint Eastwood. He, the Lt. & I stayed close. I dated them both back & forth. My 30s were my wildest years.
Re: Lt’s note about “snake” in the scrapbook When Lt. found out Dan & I were “seeing” each other, he called Dan “snake.” But we 3 remained great pals. Dynamic Triangle.
Then I met Peter, the actor. Broke up with both detectives. Both said, “An Actor! Bullshit! You belong with Cops!” They were great guys but Peter swept me off my dancing feet!
Peter reading his poem at an event in Denver, CO. Not long after we met.