Archive for Thursday, September 1, 2005

Who was Jack Potter?

September 1, 2005

Jack Potter was Lansing's first police chief in 1959. Lansing had no money and operated with no-fund warrants because our tax money was earmarked for Delaware Township when the city first incorporated.

The brand new city had to start from scratch regarding ordinances. Mayor George Caraway appointed Jack to be police chief, and Traffic Ordinance No. 3 had to be passed before he could even write a ticket. He patrolled 24 hours a day and would sleep sitting in a chair at a table in City Hall. He was always on duty. He would stop cars in the middle of the night with an unmarked car with only a red light and no backup. When his transmission went out, the council discussed the matter at some length before it agreed to pay for a new one.

Jack was retired from the prison and then operated the Texaco filling station on the corner of Main and Kay streets. I don't believe he was afraid of anything or anybody.

He had to furnish his own car, his own uniform and his own gun. The city paid for his gas.

There were no city employees then, so all of the councilmen pitched in to help when they could. One day when I was painting the crosswalk lines across the highway, Jack was controlling the traffic. When I was on my hands and knees painting, a car came right up and touched me with his bumper. Jack yelled and jumped right in the face of the driver and gave him a terrible tongue lashing, to put it mildly, and the man said, "You can't talk to me that way, I know the warden." Jack said, "I don't care who you know," and continued to tell him off. The guy probably would have rather had a ticket.

Jack took care of the city in many other ways besides traffic control. Our daughter, Ann, when she was about 6 years old, remembers how brave she thought Chief Potter was when he drove through the streets of town with a megaphone warning people of the approaching tornadoes and storms.

Mr. and Mrs. Potter raised three children who graduated from Lansing High School: Bill, Bob and Betty Rose. Their home for many years was right behind the filling station. Both home and business were destroyed when U.S. Highway 73 was widened to four lanes.

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