It's never too late
Do the right thing: Army vet clears his name after $1 parking ticket sits unpaidfor 58 years
After 58 years, army vet Dale Crawford arrived at City Hall Wednesday morning to clear his name once and for all.
It was the early 1950s. Crawford, now 79, had just joined the military and was on his way to Fort Sam Houston to become a new army cadet. "February the 3rd, 1953 was the day I was inducted into the United States Army," Crawford told a small crowd of reporters in the City Council chamber.
"My father and I agreed that I'd park my 1946 Nash at the induction station," he remembered. "When he got home from work, he caught a bus to go back to the car... When he got there, though, there was a parking ticket on the window."
"Not only did he receive this parking ticket on the way to serve his country," Parker said, "but he wanted to do the right thing and pay his debt to the City of Houston."
His father brought the $1 parking violation home and placed it among Crawford's belongings, awaiting his return. The ticket remained buried in the family house for decades until it resurfaced in 1995 when his mother died.
Crawford said he forgot about the ticket until recently. When he contacted city officials, he was told the ticket was expunged since so many years had passed.
Nevertheless, Crawford said he needed to clear his conscience and demanded to pay the fine. Surrounded by his wife and family, he took a dollar bill out of his wallet and gave it to Mayor Annise Parker, who looked delighted.
"He decided he had to make things right," Parker said during a brief ceremony honoring the small, but meaningful, payment. The city, she laughed, decided not to charge late fees.
"Not only did he receive this parking ticket on the way to serve his country," she said, "but he wanted to do the right thing and pay his debt to the City of Houston."
Parker told the crowd she viewed the payment as "a symbol to all those people who remain on the right side and do the honorable thing."
While Crawford's $1 payment won't do much to help balance the city budget, Parker noted that the number of unpaid citations totals in the millions and urged scofflaws to follow Crawford's example.
A similar parking ticket today would cost the violator $35.