Saturday, September 24, 2005

The “Terrible” Side of TNT

On September 15th and 17th I wrote stories about my grandfather, Nick Temple, for whom I am named. He was a Louisville policeman and detective who was given the nickname “Terrible Nick Temple” (TNT). I don’t think that those previous stories were so “terrible.” However, this one is, if not terrible, at the very least violent. I don’t remember who told me this story. I do know it is one of the earliest ones I heard about granddaddy.

It seems that during the Depression there was a lot of crime—some of it very brutal. As the story goes, one summer in Louisville there was a gang that would waylay motorists when they halted at stop signs. This generally would take place in the wee hours of the morning and at street crossings that were basically deserted.

When an unaccompanied motorist stopped at the crossing, one of the gang would jump onto the running board—for those of you too young to remember, a running board is a narrow footboard extending under and beside the doors of some automobiles and trucks—of the vehicle, reach in and grab the motorist. Then he and his companion would drag the motorist from his automobile, beat him, rob him, and drive off in his car.

This evidently went on through much of the summer. The police were stymied—no leads at all. So, one summer evening, Terrible Nick Temple decided to take things into his own hands. He took his “special” nightstick—or, billy club, if you prefer—and placed it above the visor on the driver’s side of his two-seater Ford. This club was “special” because Granddaddy has drilled a hole through its center and filled it with lead. He then began driving around the city, stopping purposely at stop signs at street crossings that were uninhabited.

I don’t know how long it took—a few hours or several nights—but eventually the muggers attacked him. One jumped on the running board and reached in and grabbed TNT. At the same time, Granddaddy reached for the billy club and brought it down of the robber, breaking his arm. He then pushed the car door open and hit the robber a second time on the head. The second mugger rushed to assist his companion and was met by a blow on the head from that lead-filled club.

Granddaddy dragged both unconscious robbers to the stop sign and handcuffed them to it. He then drove to the nearest police station and informed the precinct sergeant where the culprits could be found.

That’s the most “terrible” story I was ever told about Terrible Nick Temple.


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  3. Wow! He makes John Wayne seem timid.

    Do you have any photographs of him?

  4. And John Wayne was acting!

    Good question, Thomas. I have been searching for photos of Terrible Nick Temple since I wrote the first story about him. Somewhere I have his "retirement" police badge, which contains a photo.

    Here's the surprising thing about my grandfather: he was only 5'5" tall!

  5. Wow! Doing that by himself took a lot of courage!

  6. thats not terrible. i still like old tnt.

  7. He was a real hero. Too bad we don't have those kind of cops today.