This book is dedicated to Truman Tibbals, longtime owner of Drake's Sandwich Shop, which was located at 709 N. University. Truman's restaurant was a mainstay for Ann Arbor Police Officers from 1935, until his death in 1994.
Truman started working at Drake's in the early 1930's and within a few years he purchased the restaurant, but did not change the name. Truman usually worked the midnight hours so he could clean and restock the store, while his wife, Mildred, operated it during the day. When Truman's three children were growing up, the family lived upstairs above the restaurant.
I asked Truman how officers began coming to his restaurant on such a regular basis and he told me that sometime in the 1930's, he had a milkman whose brother was an Ann Arbor Officer. The milkman delivered the milk very early in the morning, while the midnight officers were working. One day he told his brother to meet him at Drake's and the milkman introduced him to Truman.
This chance meeting would begin an almost 60 year relationship between Truman and Ann Arbor Police Officers.
Truman had high regard for police officers and invited all of the midnight officers to his restaurant. As the restaurant was not open during these hours, Truman would leave the back door open, while he worked. Truman would fix a pot of food for the officers who would simply come into the restaurant and help themselves. As Truman became older, the officers would fix their meals and help themselves to the candy, which Drake's was well known for.
The best part of eating at Drake's was telling Truman what you had eaten, so you could pay. He would go on at length about how much you had eaten and if you had properly weighed the candy. He would go into a litany of how much each item cost and then charge the officer next to nothing. If you did not have any money, Truman was more than happy to take an I.O.U. You would write the amount you owed him on your business card and place it in the cash register. When you had the money, you were to place it in the register, then take your card out. When Truman died his family gave me the police items that he had and among these were about 100 unpaid I.O.Us from the officers!
Truman was also a famous practical joker. He loved to watch for the beat officers to walk by and then sneak outside and throw firecrackers behind them as they walked. When eating you always had to make sure your food did not have a fake spider in it or a fake piece of ice in your drink containing a fly.
One of the very special things about Drake's was the fact that it was virtually unchanged from 1935, until the time of his death in 1994. Sitting at the counter you could picture officers from generations past, sitting at that very same spot.
Truman captured the history of our department better then we did ourselves and we are extremely fortunate that he did. When a new officer came into Drake's for the first time, Truman would have him sign and date his guestbook and take a photograph of him. For over 30 years Truman also kept articles from the newspaper that dealt with the department. All of these were turned over to me after Truman died and were the inspiration for this book.
Truman's death deeply saddened us all and left a great void. I feel sorry for all of the new officers that will never have the experience of going into Drake's and re-living so many memories of the police department with Truman. While the restaurant was closed when Truman died, the family still owns the building, which is now a Bruegger's Bagels.
The following pages are copies of the guestbook, which officers signed when eating at Drake's for the first time: