SHREVEPORT, La. -- Air Force veteran Douglas LaCaze wasn't even trying to talk his way out of a ticket. But a Shreveport police officer talked him into a new career.
Douglas had returned home to Louisiana after a few years in the Air Force. His military stint began in 1946 and included a deployment to post World War II Germany.
"I was a little country boy working in that field every day. It wasn't too interesting," Douglas says of wanting to leave the family farm in Flora for the military.
But after his discharge, he was literally out looking for work in Shreveport when he got pulled over by a police officer. Douglas told the story this way:
"And he says, 'What's your problem?' He says, 'You're going a going a little fast.' I said, 'Well I was going over to Agurs. I was supposed to be checking on a job.' He says, 'You know, they're fixing to hire 26 policemen. He says, 'Why don't you go down there and apply for it?' I said I'd love to. And I thought he was kidding.
"So I met him down the next morning at the police department. And there was a chief of police by the name of Harvey D. Teasley. He introduced me to him. He says, 'When can you to go to work?' I said, 'Man, whenever you tell me.' He said, 'I want you to go to work tonight.' I said, 'Tonight?!'
"The guy I was going to ride with, he says, 'Where's your gun?' I said, 'Man, they just told me to come to work tonight.' I didn't have no gun. I didn't have no holster. I didn't have nothing. I didn't even have a badge. That was the start of 22 years of service.
"My favorite thing was to make people enjoy being stopped. I didn't want to irritate them. They're out there trying to make a living," Douglas said.
Along the way, Douglas learned he could make a better living for himself, after moonlighting at a fancy wedding at the country club. The bride's dad gave him quite a tip.
"He said, You don't mind if I give you a little money.' I said, 'Man I'd love for you to because me and my family and I sure need it. And he give me $150. And I said, 'My goodness alive!' Douglas recalled.
So Douglas go the idea to start his own personal security and valet service. Much of his clientele was the high class of Shreveport. As depicted in the newspaper, he made sure that one of Shreveport's wealthiest business people didn't have to splash through a big puddle. An illustration shows him putting down his coat for Virginia Shehee.
Asked if that actually happened, Douglas smiled and nodded his head.
"So that's when we was trying to be as nice as we could, because if you're a bit nicer though paper getting out of the cars are gonna be nice to get on out of the way too," Douglas explained
And while moving up in the ranks of the Shreveport Police, Douglas gave jail tours to scare kids straight; collected Christmas toys for kids before it became known as toys for tots; and he guarded the occasional celebrity, like Cowboy actor James Arness.
He recalled the visit by Arness while looking at a couple of photos showing him trying to protect the actor from a clamorous bunch of young people who came out to see the Gunsmoke star when he came to the fairgrounds.
"Those kids rushed him and knocked him down. I was trying to lift him up. And he was a big star, and he was tough, but he was a real nice guy."
As was Douglas LaCaze, the police officer.
"I really enjoyed it. It was such a pleasure to do it," he says.