“I elected to name it “Gibson” after retired United States Marine and Alaska State Trooper, the late Sergeant Dale Gibson.”

Thanks for the memories!

In 1970, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young came out with a song titled, “Almost Cut My Hair.” It was a favorite tune of mine for several reasons and still is. Some lyrics fit perfectly back then, especially one in particular, and even today this line still rings true although not as much as back then.

“It increases my paranoia, like looking at my mirror and seeing a police car.”

Being a car guy starting in the late 1960s, and into fast ones, it wasn’t uncommon to be driving my 1968 Dodge Charger and find that to be the case. Black and white Alaska State Trooper pursuit vehicles seemed to always be in the rearview mirror, oftentimes with red and blue lights flashing. With a slew of speeding violations tacked on my driving record, the F8 green Charger I drove with black tail stripes was well known throughout the Anchorage, Alaska, vicinity. During the heyday I even had my own nickname amongst fellow car enthusiasts, “Mopar Mike.”

I was pulled over on several occasions for nothing more than having long hair, at least that was my belief back then and still is. Of course, long hair in the ’70s was synonymous with pot use, while drugs and alcohol were things that I never took part in. I began to cop an attitude towards the law because of this, failing to see that my less than stellar driving record had a lot more to do with being pulled over than anything else.

I couldn’t park my car without police being attracted to it like bees on honey. There was one occasion when I met up with a friend, leaving my Dodge in a church parking lot while we took his Chevrolet. Stopping back by a couple of hours later to retrieve it, an Anchorage city policeman was walking around shining his flashlight inside, most likely looking for drug paraphernalia that was nonexistent. We circled the block waiting for the guy to leave.

On two occasions I was driving home and got pulled over for nothing. One trooper turned around and lit me up, saying that he clocked my car doing eighty in a fifty-five-mph zone. That one I beat in court when the trooper didn’t show up. I doubt I was going that fast because it was on a sweeping curve, and early Dodge Chargers were heavy cars and horrible in the handling department.

The other time I’d been out rock climbing with friends at McHugh Creek, not returning home until early the next morning. A trooper going the other direction on the Seward Highway turned around and pulled me over. Seeing my bloodshot eyes he evidently though I was high, making me walk the line as I like to call it. Passing the test with flying colors, he asked what I was doing out at four o’clock in the morning. This was in Alaska during July and the sun was already brightly shining.

“Climbing rocks!,” I told him. “And as soon as you’re finished hassling me I’m going home and climb into bed!”

He gave me a ticket for going six miles over the speed limit which was probably spot on. I might’ve gotten away with no ticket had I been a little more respectful. My smarting off didn’t help matters.

Flash ahead fifteen years: Now working for the State of Alaska as a mechanic, of all things, State Trooper cars were some of the vehicles I wrenched on. During that time I had amble opportunity to meet these law enforcement officials, greatly changing my tune on how I once viewed them.

When I mentioned to long time trooper, Sergeant Bob Vickers, about my old green Charger, he said that he remembered the Dodge quite well, having stopped it and arrested a couple of young guys for marijuana possession. Asking what year, Vickers told me around 1976. At that point in time I didn’t own the car, having sold the vehicle to a long haired kid in Eagle River. Evidently this fellow didn’t let the police down where stereotypes are concerned.

Alaska State Troopers Michael Opalka and Dale Gibson were a couple of troopers I came to respect while working at DOT. Hearing stories of what they went through on a daily basis in dealing with the public, gave me much empathy towards those working in this profession. As Trooper Gibson once told me, “We don’t make the laws, we only enforce them!” I’ve remembered that statement ever since when dealing with police.

One item on my bucket list was to own another Dodge Charger. Chrysler Corporation was manufacturing a four-door version and I wasn’t sure that was the way to go, although the Alaska State Troopers were using them with great success. In 2021, Dodge announced that they were going to build a special Hellcat Redeye Charger with 797 horsepower. My wife along with friend and Dodge connoisseur, Bob Frederick, convinced me to purchase one.

I was all set to place an order for another F8 green which was still available. At the last moment I changed that to an all white Charger with black hood, identical to the ones that Alaska State Troopers still use. On New Year’s eve in 2021, the car showed up at our Arizona home after being trucked from Pennsylvania. I officially signed the shipping papers on January 1, 2022.

Reasons for the the color change partly has to do with that Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young song, along with my checkered past where driving was concerned. Rather than looking in the mirror and seeing a black and white, I wanted to be behind the wheel of one.

This car is reportedly good for 202 mph but will never see that speed with me in the drivers’ seat. With only ten 2021 Hellcat Redeye Chargers manufactured with the Alaska State Trooper color combination, I elected to name it “Gibson” after retired United States Marine and Alaska State Trooper, Sergeant Dale Gibson. As fearsome a driver as he was, I doubt there’s enough horsepower under the hood to have suited his taste. One thing I never got to tell the guy was,

“Thank you for your service!”

My primary reason for writing this story was to send it to Dale Gibson in Pahrump, Nevada, and complete the mission. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn he passed away until the day I finished writing. That’s how it seems to go with us older folks.

In literary terms, black and white also has specific meaning: If something is black and white, it’s defined as clear and distinct via Webster’s Dictionary. That especially holds true for seniors.

Here today, gone tomorrow seemingly creates more paranoia for the majority of us older folks over that of seeing a police car in our rearview mirrors!

“Mopar Mike” with “Gibson”
1968 Dodge 4-speed 440 Charger R/T – “Mopar Mike” – Photo taken 1972 in front of Cheney Lake (Anchorage)

Author: michaeldexterhankins

ordinary average guy

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