The Red Caboose Page
ISAAC HICKOCK- THE LAWMAN WITHOUT A GUN
By Roger Rasmussen
Wild Bill Cody was famous for shooting! He was a great marksman! He was also known as Wild
Bill Hickcock. Altoona had its own sheriff, cop if you must, and I seldom saw Ike with a gun or a
club. He didn't need one. His quiet demeanor, his soothing words, his capacity to unnerve the most
difficult situations, including a few where I was involved as a teenager, his unswerving commitment
to never arresting a person unless there was no resolution, and his dedication to the daily personal life
of each resident, especially teenagers, rests in my mind as his greatest accomplishments. He was our
peace officer; while he wore a badge and uniform, as a youth I thought of Ike as one of my dearest
friends. I gave him lots of reasons for not being my friend too!
I agree with Herb's documentation on Ike and I would add that 100's of other youth, now senior
citizens, would second our thoughts, feelings, and appreciations on this giant of a man who quietly
but with assuredness patrolled the streets of Altoona during some difficult times.
Drunkenness was not an unknown attribute near the taverns on Spooner and 1st Street East nor in the
railroad yards of the CNW Railroad. It was common knowledge, and my eyes and memory will
attest to the frequency with which I encountered men, but periodically women too, who were
intoxicated. Altoona did not have more than its share of these-Fall Creek, Augusta, Fairchild, almost
every railroad town, had their share too. Since I spent most of my teen years walking the streets of
Altoona, between the Dairy Bar, D.L's Gas Station, Looby's, the Auditorium, and one of the two
restaurants, Mooney's or the 400 Club, it was easy to encounter those men who enjoyed the bottle.
Times could be tough, especially during WWII, and those frequent lay-offs where unemployed men
had little do to but wander and wonder. It was during those frequent lay-off times, the early 1950's
that Ike and his "Barney Fife" sidekick George Hoff, kept peace in Altoona.
Ike was not one to give tickets for speeding, drinking, or bad behavior even though many of my
relatives deserved such. George, on the other hand, didn't mind giving a speeding ticket now and
then. I heard once that he threatened to give his Dad a ticket, but I never confirmed it. I knew these
men because they allowed me, and others too, to ride with them during their duty tour. This was
especially true with George who worked weekends while Ike was off duty or on vacation; on that
point, I don't remember Ike ever taking a vacation. I suppose he did! George, on the other hand,
worked most weekends during the early 1950's. I enjoyed riding with him on Saturday nights for it
was then that we patrolled "lover's lane" - Wilson Drive and Lake Altoona area. George loved to
catch "lovers"; we would both have flashlights and we would drive slowly, without lights on, until
we saw the car. Quietly we would sneak-up and with one movement shine the lights into the car.
Most of the people in the car I knew; they were not young people always. Some were my friends.
Once viewed, they became either my friends or they avoided me. I wondered, years later, why some
people shunned me!