Zeigler, a folksy, good-humored, dog-loving man from Coffeyville, Kansas, is the Cal Ripken of ticket writing. Never misses a day, has a strong work ethic, keeps himself and motorcycle in fine working order and, as a result, has chalked up some damn impressive statistics.

On a good day, Zeigler will write up to 60 tickets and barely break a sweat. He's got a lifetime average of nailing some 420 motorists a month.

City officials say it's just not possible to put a number on how much money Zeigler has generated.

Did we just witness Swingin’ Dick Ankiel’s last at-bat as a Cardinal?
James Escher/Icon SMI
Did we just witness Swingin’ Dick Ankiel’s last at-bat as a Cardinal?

Confides Mayor Morgan: "It's above seven figures."

Zeigler's ticket-writing prowess has, fairly or not, given the city of 5,000 residents a regional reputation as something of a speed trap.

The 67-year-old cop, who spent a dozen years as a patrolman in Brentwood before becoming a bane to Rock Hill motorists, admits that image will likely linger, but insists he'll only issue a ticket to anyone traveling in excess of ten miles over the speed limit. On Manchester Road, his primary haunt, that means going at least 40 miles per hour.

Asked in a recent interview at Rock Hill police headquarters whether he's ever been talked out of a ticket, Zeigler smiles wide and says, "Oh yeah, occasionally that happens. I figure I let about one in ten go with a warning.

"But it's kind of funny. I do remember stopping this SUV for speeding on the 92nd block of Manchester, and when I approached the vehicle these two black labs popped up off the floorboard and starting licking me. I didn't give a ticket that time."

Zeigler says he's seen people react in every possible way when they're pulled over. "Oh, I've experienced the gamut of human emotion. I got people who cry. I got people who get a little bit angry. I got people jovial and people a little sarcastic."

Most common excuses?

"'I thought the speed limit was 40.' I don't know how many people have told me that. It's also amazing how many tell me, 'You stopped me 'cause I'm driving a red car.'"

Of the many thousands of encounters Zeigler has had on Rock Hill's byways, few, he says, compare to the day he pulled over a woman in her late forties heading west on Manchester.

"So I write up the ticket and come back to her car and ask her to sign it," Zeigler recalls. "She tells me she's going to kill herself. Then she gets out of the car and starts beating her head against a concrete wall. There was blood everywhere, and I had to call an ambulance."

Another memorable stop occurred in the mid-1980s, not long after Zeigler joined Rock Hill's finest. "I gave this ticket to a guy who was speeding on McKnight. Well, it turns out it was Stan Musial. I guess I didn't know it at the time or put two and two together. But anyway, the department called me sometime later and said, 'Do you know you just gave a ticket to Stan Musial?'"

The incident must have made some impression on the Cardinal great, for in 1985, when Zeigler was selected State of Missouri Traffic Officer of the Year, it was Stan the Man who presented the award.

Zeigler says he looks forward to retirement, to painting the house, fixing up the garden, doing some long-neglected landscaping and being with his wife of 43 years, Earline.

"I'm going to miss the residents of Rock Hill," he says softly. "But I'm not going to miss stopping cars and giving people tickets. Not going to miss that at all."
—Ellis E. Conklin

Up in the Air lands in LA
Editor's note: As many RFT readers know, for years Randall Roberts was a fixture at this paper, first as a freelancer, later as music editor and then as a staff writer, before he packed up his quill pen and ink bottle and hied to the left coast, where he now music-edits our sister paper LA Weekly.

Well, you can take the boy out of St. Louis, but you can't take St. Louis out of the boy. So it was that Randy found himself at a screening of Up in the Air last week and just had to check in with us folks back home...]

It all makes a transplanted Angeleno a little homesick.

On October 6 at International Creative Management's screening room in Century City, director Jason Reitman introduced his new film, Up in the Air, to a small group of interested parties. Much of the film, which stars George Clooney, was shot in St. Louis, even scenes that purport to be Chicago and northern Wisconsin — even though the movie's story only lands in St. Louis for maybe ten minutes.

Highlights, without giving any plot points away?

A heated defense of Lambert Airport by Clooney, set with Minoru Yamasaki's iconic terminal in the background; a scene that takes place in Chicago that was almost certainly filmed in Lafayette Square — the wrought-iron fences are the giveaway. Two characters sneak into (I think) Lindbergh High School.

The Cheshire Inn is featured in a wedding scene that, in the story, takes place in northern Wisconsin. A lot of the scenes in Up in the Air occur in interior settings, so surely there are way more St. Louis locations than those.

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