How Adam-12 Ruined My Squeaky-Clean Reputation

Courtesy of Netflix streaming over our Xbox 360, my son David (primarily) and I have been enjoying watching Adam-12, the police television series that started the year I was born, and ran for seven years thereafter, and much longer in syndication. Adam-12 was one of my favorite televisions programs when I was a kid, and I remain impressed by its lasting quality, straightforward, honest characters, and clear moral implications. (Director Jack Webb, of Dragnet fame, was clearly not an “everybody’s-doing-it” kind of guy, even in the ’60s.)

Officers Pete Malloy (Martin Milner) and Jim Reed (Kent McCord) from the Adam-12 television series.
Officers Pete Malloy (Martin Milner) and Jim Reed (Kent McCord) from the Adam-12 television series.

In 1978, I was in Mrs. Lovell’s third grade class at Parkview Elementary School, in Easton, Massachusetts.

One day we were reviewing vocabulary with a small reading group after a multiple-choice exercise. The vocabulary word in discussion was heroine, and, among the possible definitions was a medicine.

When the correct answer was given by another student, I suggested, a medicine, getting me quite a troubled look from Mrs. Lovell, who then asked, “Do any of you know what he is referring to?” “Drugs,” answered Dennis, with an implication of disgust.

I’d never heard the female version of hero, but Adam-12 had provided me with an excellent education in the dangers of illegal drug use. In my eight-year-old mind, heroin was a drug, and one obtained medicines at the drugstore, so a drug such as heroin perhaps could be classified as a medicine.

I was too embarrassed by the reactions of my teacher and peers to explain this logic, and the incident eventually became eclipsed by even worse incidents of faux pas that we shall consign to the horrible depths of “the junior high years.”

Adam-12 photograph courtesy of

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