Things My Policeman Father Taught Me

Some of our regular readers know, my father, Walter “Corky” Dennis was a policeman, homicide detective for the San Antonio Police Department for decades.

He was in the motorcycle detail that traveled beside John F. Kennedy’s limousine in the Alamo City motorcade the day before the President’s assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963. After SAPD retirement, he was employed as a U.S. Marshal and worked on the Federal Judge John H. Wood, Jr. assassination case in 1979 and early 1980s.

One proud moment was when we found out he and I made it in the world famous Ripley’s Believe It or Not cartoon together.

Although Dad taught me a good deal about investigation, forensics, criminal psychology and police work, like all good fathers, he provided immeasurable guidance on other important matters:

1. How to make a fire
2. How to grill meat
3. How to cook on a stove
4. How to create a budget
5. Basic knot tying 
6. Basic woodworking
7. Basic firearm safety
8. How to throw a punch
9. How to take a punch
10. Basic boxing strategy
11. How to change a tire
12. Basic gardening
13. How to change oil in a car

14. How to pray
15. How to play poker
16. Basic first aid
17. How to pitch a tent
18. How to read the Bible
19. How to summarize a book
20. How to map a family tree
21. Basic dining etiquette
22. How to iron clothes
23. How to mow the lawn

24. How to read a map
25. How to be a polite guest
26. How to talk to a girl
27. Where to go on a first date
28. What to do on a first date
29. How to speak to a girl’s parents
30. How to make small talk
31. How to make deep talk 

32. How to pump gas
33. How to rope a cow
34. How to use a credit card
35. How to dress for an occasion 
36. How to “read” a person (later we called it “profiling”)
37. How to milk a cow
38. How to wrap a gift
39. How to write a thank you note
40. How to think critically
41. How to reverse engineer concepts
42. How to look for signs of criminal activity
43. How to ride a horse

44. Basic photography concepts
45. How to be aware of con artists
46. How to tie a tie
47. How to put on cufflinks
48. How to shine shoes
49. How to roof a house
50. How to use a saw

These next ten, I suppose, are not typically taught to most children by their parents in everyday living.

51. How to rescue people from a raging flooded river or creek.

52. How to dedicate yourself to helping, protecting, and sacrifice for other’s wellbeing, safety and benefit.

53. How to respond responsibly to a crisis, strangers in an emergency, and/or communities in need (hurricanes, flooding, fires, etc.).

54. How police and emergency workers respond when one of their fellow men/women are killed.

55. The importance of visiting and helping those in hospitals, nursing homes, shelters, and with victims of disaster.

56. Why some people call the police names like “Pig.”

57. Why and how some people repeatedly live a life of crime, hate and anger.

58. How to work for the betterment of a community.

59. How to smile when you are angered, fearful or scared.

60.. How much he loved me and always would, even though there was a chance he might not make it home from work ever.

Thanks for supporting independent true journalism with a small tip. Dodie & Jack

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.


  1. Jack even tho you well obviously know this, you were very blessed to have parents , especially a dad like this to show you around the concept of “life”

    Reminds me of the very successful popular YT channel called “Dad How Do I” begun by a humble out of work gentle man, Rob Kenny, whose own dad abandoned him at 14 yo, ministering to endless numbers of kids whose fathers also abandoned them as babies or continue to ignore them to this day.

    Godspeede to you and Mrs. Dodie, sir.

    Liked by 2 people

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