This is a transcription of a letter written by William H. Young the eldest son of Hugh Young September 17, 2010.
Officer Lon Buck was the first Traffic Officer for Pinole, as far back as I can remember in the early 1930’s. He was kind of a rent a cop. We lived in Walnut Creek at that time and Officer Buck worked traffic 3 days a week in Walnut Creek and then worked Pinole traffic 3 more days. Officer Buck rode a big 4 cylinder Indian motorcycle, and lived in Walnut Creek.
Gene Shea was the Pinole Constable, I don’t know from when to when. The next Pinole Traffic Officer was Rex Clift and he rode a 1938 Harley Davidson. Young took over from Rex Clift in September 1943 and served Pinole from then till 31 Dec 1967. Young bought the Harley Davidson that Officer Clift had owned. If my memory serves me right, Mr. Clift resigned to accept the position of Chief of Police in Fairfield.
Pinole’s first police car was a 1939 Studebaker Champion (our family car) with emergency vehicle license plates and a red spot light and electric siren. Things were primitive in 1943 in little Pinole. Dad had no radio contacts. There was a grocery store on the corner of Fernandez and old hwy 40. It was owned by Louie Ruff. Mr. Ruff also owned the Pinole telephone system and it was so old that you had to hand crank the wall phone to get the operator in Ruff’s store. The only contact Young had with the outside world (no radios) was to check in at Ruff’s store to see if the operator had recorded any important messages from the C.H.P., Sheriff’s Office, or the Richmond PD. Young found, by trial and error that he could detune a regular A.M. radio to receive police broadcast’s from Martinez.
Eventually the Pinole city Council purchased a worn out surplus police car, 1958 Ford from the City of Richmond. Dad always bought his own motorcycles, which were Harley’s. In Young’s 24 years of service to Pinole, he had only two accidents, with only one resulting in injury. I have enclosed a newspaper clipping of that incident. The second incident, which did not result in injury, is as follows:
Traffic Officer Young was in Pursuit of a speeding motorist, with siren screaming, it could take no more RPM’s and disintegrated like shrapnel. Pieces of metal tore through his left boot, and rear fender and the metal and leather seat. Young was not injured. The speeding car got away.
Back in the 1940’s, motorcycle siren’s were mechanical and the operator pushed on a lever with his heel, which in turn actuated the siren with the impeller rubbing on the rear tire. It turned many thousands of revolutions. Metal fatigue was proved to be responsible for the failure.
Dad used the 9-00 series uniform radio code. Pinole Police Department eventually got two way radios. The call letters for the car was: Contra Costa Unit #873 and the motorcycle was Contra Costa Unit #873M. When the freeway, hwy 80 opened, traffic got slower in Pinole so dad had more time to patrol the streets of Pinole. He was on call 24 hours 7 days a week.
There was a rumor for years that Young had a daughter who was killed as a pedestrian in Pinole and that was why he was so tough on speeders, that was a false story as Young’s only daughter is alive and well living in cottage Grove, Oregon.
Young handed out an average of 200 traffic tickets a month and Robert Ripley researched that and called Pinole the world’s deadliest sped trap-and that was before radar. Young was a past master of the Pinole Masonic Lodge. In the year 1966 he was declared Pinole’s outstanding “Citizen of the Year”. After his retirement in 1967, he lived less than two years, dyeing from a heart attack. Chief Young’s legend was that “He gave so much of his heart to others, that there wasn’t enough left for him”.
William H. Young (son) Eldest
Information and Photos provided by the Pinole, CA Police Department