First Connecticut Deputy Motor Vehice Inspector - Ralph C. Young

From the WHEEL, Conn. Motor Vehicle Dept., Vol. 2, No. 1, Jan. 1973, by Bill Heard

The Motor Vehicle Department was still in its infant stages when Ralph C. Young of Danielson was appointed the first Deputy Motor Vehicle Inspector in Windham County.

It was the year 1917 and, according to his son, Marion C. Young, the only symbol of authority inspector Young possessed was a badge. No uniform, no state car, no pistol, sketchy training, and only an elementary knowledge of what his new duties consisted. Nevertheless, Young was a staunch guardian of motor vehicle laws in Windham County, until his death following a car crash on a rainy autumn evening in 1920.

Still a resident of Danielson, Marion Young remembers those early days of his father's new job. "On duty my father drove the family's big Pierce Arrow," Young recalls. "One night he spotted a Ford with a burned out tail light and decided to issue a summons. On those narrow roads, it was hard for any car to pass another, especially a car as large as a Pierce Arrow," he explained. "He finally forced the Ford to stop but not until it had blown a tire.

"The motorist was as angry as could be, he'd never even heard of a motor inspector, but my father helped him fix his flat--then gave him a ticket," Young said. "It was my father's first arrest."

Lack of recognition of motor inspectors was a real problem back then. The son remembers the inspector being run down by one motorist who feared he was being waylaid by a highjacker.

Beside the handicap of a hair lip and cleft palate, Young, according to a long front page obituary in the Windham County Transcript, was a successful businessman, a leader in local politics and a member of a number of fraternal and community organizations.

Some time after his appointment, Inspector Young was issued a brown tweed, high collar uniform. Since it was just after World War I, the son suspects it was Army Surplus.

Later the inspector was issued a .38 caliber Colt 'Police Positive' and a Harley Davidson motorcycle with sidecar. The pistol Young put away in the bureau drawer and may never have used. The motorcycle, however, became a familiar sight in Windham County.

Drivers' examinations in the late 'teens' would make present day inspectors gasp. After having an applicant fill out the necessary papers, Inspector Young collected a $2.00 fee and directed the would-be driver to make a circuit of the Danielson park. The Inspector observed him from the Town Hall steps. If several drivers were to take the test, Marion Young said, his father lined up the cars and, standing on the running board of the leader, would parade the motorcade around the Park.

The Windham County Transcript was lengthy in praise of Inspector Young's accomplishments and his funeral was attended by a host of friends, Masonic brothers and area politicians. Representing the State were Deputy Commissioner John MacDoland and nearly all the staff of the Motor Vehicle Department.

It was a fitting tribute to one of Connecticut's first Motor Vehicle inspectors.