Forty eight years ago, Danny Pope got married. Well, not in the traditional or literal sense.
But when the City of Columbus honored his service with a key to the city on July 13, the retiring Department of Works driver compared his employment to a loving long-term relationship.
“It’s like a marriage. I married the city May 30, 1973, and we’ve been through a lot,” he said.
These “adventures,” as he put it, included a couple of blizzards, at least one flood and a particularly memorable incident when Pope was deputized as a police officer for about five minutes. This was to help break up an altercation between some youths during what would’ve otherwise been a routine trash pick-up.
He recounted the experience at a recent Columbus Board of Works meeting. As part of Pope’s recognition, Mayor Jim Lienhoop declared it “Danny Pope Day” and gave him a key to the city. He also read a proclamation honoring — and poking fun at — Pope’s long tenure with the city.
“We will all miss Danny’s stories about when he first started and when he was on the first horse-drawn garbage truck,” Lienhoop said. “… It was finally time for Danny to retire, as he has ran out five mayors and was working on number six.”
He also thanked Pope for his service and wished him a happy retirement.
Pope likewise thanked the city for its kindness to him. He recalled how when he was first hired, his boss, Milton Michael, gave him a list of councilmen’s names and addresses — with the task of tracking down their signatures and turning these in to Milton.
“Ronnie Taylor convinced him to give me a chance with the city, which is a chance that I’ll never regret — because the city’s been so good to me,” he said.
As part of the proclamation, Lienhoop said that Pope would be missed as a “dedicated employee for working through all the changes throughout the years.”
He added that the key to the city isn’t given to just anybody.
“Keys go to those people who we consider to be our most trusted friends, our most valued advisers,” Lienhoop said. “And I want you to know that if you get lost and can’t find your way back, this key will help get you back into the city of Columbus.”
He also gave Pope this joking dispensation: “On the way home, if you want to run a stop sign or speed, and someone stops you, just tell them it’s your day. And they’ll leave you alone.”