My class reunion was held in Bridgeport this past
weekend. A story was shared that had been written by a former classmate,
titled “Jail.” It happens that the mentioned child, Richard L. (Dick)
Morgan, was born in Grantsville on Mar. 22, 1928, the son of Amos and
Mary Susan Hamilton Morgan. He was a nephew of Minnie Hamilton. His
father worked for Hope and was later transferred to the Bridgeport area,
where the family was raised.
Dick was an outstanding athlete, earning 11 letters
in high school, where he was student body president. He was the first
Bridgeport athlete to receive an athletic scholarship to WVU, where he
received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He earned a law degree
from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
He was a veteran of World War II and the Korean War.
He died Dec. 11, 1999, in Carson City, Nevada, and
the following story was reprinted in a memorial celebration of his life
on Feb. 12 at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church:
“When I was 10 years old, during the summer of
1938, my bicycle and I were ‘arrested’ for riding on the sidewalk in
downtown Bridgeport. Our town was a very small town and about one minute
after the town’s lone policeman, Chief Woofter, stopped me, my dad
happened to walk by.
Dad was on the Town Council that employed Chief
Woofter, who was giving me a lecture when my dad walked by.
The Town Council had recently passed a local law
that prohibited the riding of bicycles on the downtown sidewalks.
I expected my Dad to intervene on my behalf, but
all he did was inquire about what I had done, and then say, ‘Chief, do
what you need to do under the law.’ I am sure today that Dad had winked
at the chief, but at the time, he never gave me any indication of
helping me out.
My dad then proceeded down the sidewalk, leaving me
alone with Chief Woofter to face my ‘crime.’ Chief Woofter returned to
his lecture about the need to keep the sidewalks safe for pedestrians.
After he was certain that I understood the
violation and the purpose for the law, he said, ‘Because this is your
first offense, I won’t lock you in jail; however, I am going to put your
bicycle in jail for three days.
My heart sank. I loved that bike. He then made me
walk my bike down the street to the town jail, where I watched him put
the bike in the town’s only jail cell and lock it. I don’t think I would
have felt worse if he had locked me up. I really loved that bike. I
visited it daily and retrieved it three days later.
I learned a great deal that day. Foremost, I
learned that the fact that my dad was a town councilman, didn’t make any
difference to him when it came to supporting the laws, even when one of
his family was involved.
I also learned that there were reasons for laws and
that I, too, had to obey that law. In later years, I came to see that my
dad’s action had been very wise and was an indirect way of showing his
love for me and teaching me a valuable lesson.”