8/8/2014The 79th Anniversary Of The Parking Ticket
First-ever parking ticket issued on August 6, 1935.
By The Expired Meter
On a hot August day in 1935, Reverend Charles H. North of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma's Third Pentecostal Holiness Church drove his car downtown and parked at a spot in front of a new-fangled device called the Park-O-Meter. The Park-O-Meters had just been installed the month before and had created sort of a hub-bub around town over those past few weeks.
North stepped out of his car, and, wiping sweat from his forehead, stepped into the hot and dusty street. He walked to where the meter was planted in the cement in front of his automobile and read the gadget. It demanded five cents to park there.
The preacher checked his right pocket and then his left. A few pennies, a dime, a quarter and a few silver dollars, landed in the palm of his hand, but there were no nickels. North sighed and then trudged into the nearest store, a grocery, to get change for the meter, not knowing that at this moment he would make history.
When Rev. North walked back out into the street a few minutes later, he saw a piece of paper on the windshield of his car. He picked it up and peered at it curiously. It was a ticket for an expired meter.
He did not know it at the time, but Rev. North became the very first person in the United States and the world to receive a parking ticket for an expired meter.
A few weeks later in court, Rev. North explained to the judge what happened and how he had left his vehicle briefly in search of change. With this, Rev. North made history again as the first person to use the "I just went to get change" excuse to fight an expired meter violation. The judge dismissed his ticket according to Dwight Thurmond, his grandson.
"On that day he had his daughters in the car (one being my mother) they were to tell any policeman their dad was getting change," said Thurmond. "They didn't recognize the man who greeted them as a policeman, and they thought the ticket he placed on the wiper blade was an ad flyer."
Detailed coverage of Chicago motoring issues can be found at The Expired Meter.