MURDER IN A SMALL TOWN

President Franklin D.
FDR

MURDER IN A SMALL TOWN

CHAPTER ONE

It was the early 1940’s in our small town in  America.  The world was at war and there was a general feeling of restlessness in the Country and especially in the small towns across the United States.  It seemed that way in my town anyway, maybe because everyone knew everyone else, or at least we thought we did.  Things can change though, especially with a war raging and our boys away fighting that war.  Families who had brothers and sons in the service had the most stress of course.

Our town had changed quite a bit since the war began.  Soldiers, sailors and marines could be seen around the town now, home on leave wearing their uniforms.  More people were flying flags in their yards and we were all more patriotic.

The schools and the churches among other groups were having drives to collect aluminum cans to be used in the war effort.  There were rallies to help sell War Bonds and every family was given books of  coupons to purchase the food that was in short supply.  The amount of coupons were given to people, according to the family size.  It seemed that everyone was especially short on sugar and butter.

The movies now were all about the war, with people actually cheering in the movie houses when the Allies won a battle against the enemy.  The newsreels would come on in the movies between the main movie and the previews.  That’s the only way we actually saw some of the action in the war, the rest of the news was on the radio or in the newspapers.

At home in the evenings when FDR had his “Fireside Chats”, families were gathered around the radio listening with rapt attention.  FDR was everyone’s hero during that time, even the children loved him.  He had a spellbinding voice and he always had an uplifting message to deliver.

It was against this background that the murders in our town happened, to the shock and chagrin of all the people who lived there.  I was fourteen years old at the time and very impressionable.   I loved  mysteries, especially murder mysteries, even though they scared me.  Of course, this was not a murder mystery.  It was only too real and everyone was shocked which only added to the gossip around the town.

Marie, my older sister and I would walk three miles to the library, which was in the closest big city and then three miles back, to get our library books.  Some of the books were mandatory.  The nuns at the Catholic school we went to required us to read a few of the classics each semester along with our other reading.  So in between the murder mysteries which I loved, I managed to read a few classics.  Marie liked romantic stories, so between us we had to carry quite a few books on the way home.

We would usually have car fare for one way and then have to decide whether to actually spend it on car fare home or spend it  on a treat and end up walking back home also.   It was sometimes a hard choice because we were pretty tired by the time we were ready to go home, carrying all those books.

Marie and I got along really well.  She was a happy person always finding something to laugh about.  Where I, on the other hand was quiet (out in public) but still friendly  and we both had our own friends at school.  Little did we know that our world as we knew it was about to be shattered and not connected to the war.  It was up close and personal.  As the war raged on, our town was diverted by something we could not turn away from.

Thanks for reading.  Comments are welcome.

I have published this recently on Word Press but I am publishing it again because I will be publishing more chapters as time goes on and I wanted everyone to remember the previous chapters.

To be continued.

MURDER IN A SMALL TOWN

President Franklin D.
FDR

MURDER IN A SMALL TOWN

CHAPTER ONE

It was the early 1940’s in our small town in  America.  The world was at war and there was a general feeling of restlessness in the Country and especially in the small towns across the United States.  It seemed that way in my town anyway, maybe because everyone knew everyone else, or at least we thought we did.  Things can change though, especially with a war raging and our boys away fighting that war.  Families who had brothers and sons in the service had the most stress of course.

Our town had changed quite a bit since the war began.  Soldiers, sailors and marines could be seen around the town now, home on leave wearing their uniforms.  More people were flying flags in their yards and we were all more patriotic.

The schools and the churches among other groups were having drives to collect aluminum cans to be used in the war effort.  There were rallies to help sell War Bonds and every family was given books of  coupons to purchase the food that was in short supply.  The amount of coupons were given to people, according to the family size.  It seemed that everyone was especially short on sugar and butter.

The movies now were all about the war, with people actually cheering in the movie houses when the Allies won a battle against the enemy.  The newsreels would come on in the movies between the main movie and the previews.  That’s the only way we actually saw some of the action in the war, the rest of the news was on the radio or in the newspapers.

At home in the evenings when FDR had his “Fireside Chats”, families were gathered around the radio listening with rapt attention.  FDR was everyone’s hero during that time, even the children loved him.  He had a spellbinding voice and he always had an uplifting message to deliver.

It was against this background that the murders in our town happened, to the shock and chagrin of all the people who lived there.  I was fourteen years old at the time and very impressionable.   I loved  mysteries, especially murder mysteries, even though they scared me.  Of course, this was not a murder mystery.  It was only too real and everyone was shocked which only added to the gossip around the town.

Marie, my older sister and I would walk three miles to the library, which was in the closest big city and then three miles back, to get our library books.  Some of the books were mandatory.  The nuns at the Catholic school we went to required us to read a few of the classics each semester along with our other reading.  So in between the murder mysteries which I loved, I managed to read a few classics.  Marie liked romantic stories, so between us we had to carry quite a few books on the way home.

We would usually have car fare for one way and then have to decide whether to actually spend it on car fare home or spend it  on a treat and end up walking back home also.   It was sometimes a hard choice because we were pretty tired by the time we were ready to go home, carrying all those books.

Marie and I got along really well.  She was a happy person always finding something to laugh about.  Where I, on the other hand was quiet (out in public) but still friendly  and we both had our own friends at school.  Little did we know that our world as we knew it was about to be shattered and not connected to the war.  It was up close and personal.  As the war raged on, our town was diverted by something we could not turn away from.

Thanks for reading.  Comments are welcome.

I have published this recently on Word Press but I am publishing it again because I will be publishing more chapters as time goes on and I wanted everyone to remember the previous chapters.

To be continued.

Sincere: Word for Daily Post

 

 

My sister and I
My sister and I

The word for today for the Daily Post today is sincere.

I really can’t think of anything to write, especially about this word.  Guess I am kind of blocked!  I haven’t been doing much writing for quite some time but recently I set up a special tablet dedicated to Creative Writing.

Since I already do what I call the A.M. notes of daily events and thoughts, I needed another tablet just for writing for my Blog.  So I am getting there, also have had a story that’s been percolating in my brain for a long time now, years at least.  About two weeks ago I actually started putting the story into writing.  I think it is definitely going to be an interesting story and it is based on true events that happened in the small town where I grew up. It involves a murder that happened in the town which was very sensational.  Also, it was during the time when WWII was raging.  I have been meaning to write this story for a long time and the participants are old now or dead so it will be kind of difficult to get specific details.

I have done a lot of research but there is still a lot more that needs to be done.  Especially since this happened so long ago and details are pretty fuzzy.  In fact, one of my cousins told me he did not think I should write about it.  But of course, I will not take his advice.  Anyway, let me know what you think? Should I go ahead with my research and follow through with this dramatic story or leave it alone and pursue another storyline altogether?

Thanks for your interest and comments.

 

 

Growing Up continues…….

mameFather or Paddy as I thought of him, because that’s what my Mother called him, when she was in a good mood, was devouring his burger and fries, although  he was not drinking the stale coffee I served him.  I had to laugh to myself over that because he thought he was an expert on coffee.  He had to have the best brand and it had to be ground just so and brewed so many minutes.  I wondered  how he liked the lukewarm coffee I served him that had been sitting there for a few hours?  I thought he wouldn’t be coming here anymore, which was of course my purpose in being so obnoxious to him.  That and I was really angry at him for leaving us again with out so much as a goodby.

I was angry and at the same time I was relieved that he was gone, because he was making Mother miserable and they were always arguing.  Also Anna and I had a lot more freedom when he wasn’t there.  Not that we got into trouble but we did like to be able to go wherever and whenever we wanted.

We were Catholic school girls for crying out loud and we had so many guilt trips laid on us, mostly by the priests and nuns, that we wouldn’t know how to be “wild,” which was the phrase of the day for young people, even if we wanted to.  Our idea of a good time was to go to the library, the movies or to a school dance.  At this time we really hadn’t started dating, so we just got together with our friends at school or at the school dances and those times we were in with our friends whose company we enjoyed.

As I was waiting on people, I saw that Paddy was trying to get my attention but I pretended not to notice and kept my back turned.  A few minutes later  Trudy went over to see if he wanted anything else and they spoke for a few minutes before he got up and headed for the door.  I happened to be waiting on several people at the soda fountain so my attention was diverted and I did not see him leave.

I don’t know what he expected of me, he is the one who left us so many times that I couldn’t remember.  And the last time was the last time!  Mother had it with him and she swore she would never take him back.  Don’t know what he thought I could do about the situation, if anything.  Sure I sat with him and his buddies while they played poker and told stories about the war.  Most of them were too old to be in the war anyway but it didn’t stop them from telling the stories.  The only reason he was drafted at forty- two was because he had deserted his family!  Then he didn’t want his allotment sent to us until he had to, because the Army took that decision out of his hands.

If it were up to him we would be still living in the shack with the rain coming through the holes in the roof.  Why Mother had taken him back at all, I didn’t know, he was never a help to us.  I suppose he thought now that Anna and I were getting older, we would be working and bringing in money to the family and he wouldn’t have to work much, if at all.

After he left, Trudy came over and said, “He left this for you,” as she handed me two dollars.

I took the money and put it in my uniform pocket and noticing the look on her face said, “What’s with you?”

“How could you treat your Father like that?”  she said.

“Don’t question me unless you know what you are talking about!”   I snapped back.

She let it drop then and we went back to our respective duties.

I did not know it then but that was the last time I saw my Father.  I was fourteen.

 The End

 

29th Day of NaBloPoMo/Growing Up

Anna and MarionWe knew when Paddy was out of the Army because that’s when our allotment ended.  After the war was over and he was back home, his family, meaning his mother and sisters at least, wanted him to go back home to his wife and children.  In fact they were trying to come up with ideas to make this happen.  I guess they did not want to be supporting him anymore.

So one day not long after Paddy was home, Mother got a call from her brother-in-law, who was married to one of Paddy’s sisters.  The brother-in-law was one of the few in Paddy’s family that Mother actually liked.  He wanted to set up a meeting between Paddy and Mother and I guess he was pretty convincing because a meeting was set up for the following week.

Now Mother, for some reason, did not disclose anything about the meeting with us kids.  So we were completely in the dark.  On the scheduled meeting day, which happened to be a Sunday when we were all at home, Paddy and his brother-in-law arrived.  Paddy was in full regalia, his Army dress uniform no less.

I heard voices from downstairs drifting up to where I was doing my homework in my bedroom.  Not recognizing the voices except Mothers, I just continued with what I was doing.  Soon thereafter, I heard Mother come to the bottom of the staircase.  She asked me to come down, saying there was someone she wanted me to meet.  Now I had no idea it was Paddy, so I told her I was busy doing my homework.

But she kept insisting that I come down and I thought I’d better go down or else she would keep on insisting.  I walked slowly down the steps and lo and behold, there was Himself in his Army get-up with a big smile on his face.  My first inclination was to run back up the steps  But Mother was saying,  “It’s your Father, aren’t you going to say anything?”  He approached me and planted a big kiss on my cheek.  I put my hand to my face and wiped the kiss off and ran back up the steps.  I could hear Mother making excuses for my behavior but I was too angry at the time to care.  How could she do this to us?

A few weeks after Paddy had moved in with us, we kids were still not happy about it. At least we were warned beforehand but It was still really tense even though Mother tried to make everything seem normal.  She started cooking big meals and had fresh coffee whenever Paddy wanted it. He and Mother took the back bedroom and us kids had to make do with whatever was left.  He found a job at a defense plant on the night shift as a security guard.  It was so very strange having him there and working; it took quite a while to get used to it.

But after a few months, I at least and the younger kids got used to having him around.  In fact, he started having his buddies over on the weekends for poker and beer.  Mother did not seem too happy about this.  Soon I was joining Himself and his buddies, to listen to the war stories and maybe have a sip of beer once in a while.  Anna at sixteen and in the tenth grade, decided to quit school to work in a factory and was earning a pretty good salary.  She never became acclimated to having Himself there.  She could not accept the fact he could tell her what to do!

So there was tension in the air between Paddy and Anna on a regular basis.  Anna worked the late shift also, getting out at 10 pm.  Father was home early that night; he usually did not get home from work until 12 midnight.  When he noticed that Anna and her friends from work were standing outside the house talking and laughing, he sent me out to tell her to “get in the house right now!”

To be continued.

28TH Day of NaBloPoMo/Growing Up

Anna and Marion

 

Mother found out about the details of the allotment from a reliable source and it only made her despise Paddy more than she already did.  First of all, Himself got drafted into the Army at his age because he had deserted his family and he had never made an attempt to contribute anything to their welfare.

There were records from when Mother had taken Paddy to court to try to get child support from him.  And the Army had access to these records.  He had not only refused to pay child support, but when the judge ordered him to get a job and pay his fair share; he said he would quit the job rather than pay child support.  The judge at that time told my Mother that he was just no good and that she would never get anything out of him.

That’s why when we started receiving the allotment, not only was Mother shocked but we were all surprised.  Although what she found out didn’t surprise her.  It seems when Paddy was drafted and the Army officials told him why they were drafting him at his age, he wasn’t happy about it.  He asked that his allotment be sent home to his mother who would put it in savings for him when he got out of the service.

The Army however had other ideas, they told Paddy that they were sending his allotment to his wife and children who desperately needed it.  He would get a small stipend to use for himself.  Unfortunately for us, Paddy wasn’t in the Army long enough.  We were hoping for at least two years.

The end of the war was rapidly approaching when he went into the Army and much to our chagrin, he was being discharged too soon.  That’s what it seemed like to us at least.  He was in the service about one year.

The war in Europe came to a close on May 8, 1945 and there was celebrating in the world.  Victory in Europe was called, V-E Day .  I was fourteen then and Anna was sixteen.  We were in high school and very independent then.  That night, Anna and I and several of our friends piled into a truck belonging to one of Anna’s boyfriends and drove to the next town where there was a town square and we joined with hundreds of other people who were singing and yelling and kissing and even dancing.  Music was coming from a band in the middle of the square.  We stayed there until the wee hours of the morning, and then had breakfast at an all night diner and went home.  It was a happy time, especially so for the families who had husbands and sons coming home.

In the time Paddy was in the service, we for the most part were enjoying life more than we ever had before.  We were receiving his allotment and Mother was working several days a week.  Even Anna had a part-time job and was contributing to the family.  Things were really looking up for us for the first time in a long time.

To be continued.

27th Day of NaBloPoMo/Growing Up

Anna and MarionLife was going along as usual except for the war of course and the war did not affect us that much, except when we heard about it on the radio and in the Newsreels at the movies.  Then of course there were a lot of movies with stories about the war.

At school, Sister came up with an idea for helping out our service men.  She asked who had a relative in the Armed Services and then with all the hands raised. she suggested we put their names in a hat and each one of us would pick out a name.  Whoever you picked out, you would write to that person with news from home.  That turned out to be a really good idea.

After we had been doing it for a while, Sister suggested that each day one or two letters from the service men would be read aloud to the class.  I had picked someone who was an uncle of one of my friends in class and he told me that his uncle was happy to be getting extra mail from home.  It cheered him up.  And I was happy to be getting an airmail letter from overseas, made me feel important and happy I was doing something.

The war had been going on for a while when we got a letter from the Army; the letter looked important!  We gathered around as Mother read it to us.  The Army was telling us that Paddy was being drafted into the Army and we would be receiving an allotment for the time he served.  Now Paddy was forty years old at this time and it was unusual to be drafting older men, although the Armed Services was getting desperate for men.

Since Paddy had never given us a penny since he left the last time, which had been several years ago, Mother didn’t think it was his idea to send us the allotment.  But we were more than happy to be receiving the money, in fact it was a godsend.  Mother had been sick with Pleurisy which is a pretty bad disease affecting the lungs and causing a lot of pain especially in the chest. It had been months now and she hadn’t been able to work at all for some time.  The doctor would come and visit her from time to time, telling her that she had to rest and take care of herself.  She wondered how she was supposed to do that with four kids to take care of.  But she couldn’t seem to get off the couch except for short periods of time.  She would lie there and direct us what to do and make sure we ate breakfast and got off to school.

But Mother wondered about the allotment and whose decision it was that we get it?  She kept asking around mostly of the in-laws, the one or two she was still friendly with and slowly the truth came out.

To be continued!

26th Day of NaBloPoMo/Growing Up

Anna and Marion
Anna and Marion

We were enjoying our new house and it was great except for facing Main St. with the traffic out there, and in the back of the house there were railroad tracks.  And since Anna and I had the back bedroom, we were awakened every night in the wee hours when the train came by with the blinding light on the front of the train.  It shined right in our eyes as it went by.  Of course they always blew the horn as they were passing.  We got to know the engineers on the train though and they waved whenever they passed in the daytime.

Time seemed to fly by after we moved into the new house.  It seemed no time before I was eleven years old and Anna was thirteen and Anna at least, began noticing boys.  They still weren’t that interesting to me.  But other things were going on in our lives and in the world.

We were getting the newspaper now and Mother always read the paper and listened to the news on the radio.  It was 1941 and we, in this country, were completely unaware that Japan was planning an attack on us!  So when the attack came, we were so unprepared it was tragic, with massive loss of lives, and ships and planes in and around Pearl Harbor.  All the young men in the country were anxious to join the Armed Services and go to fight for their country.

Our family’s lives were not interrupted that much if at all, mostly because there were no boys in the family.  The rationing however was another story; it affected us greatly and it was put in place for the duration of the war.  Gasoline was of course rationed but since we didn’t own a car, it didn’t bother us.  The thing that did bother us was the sugar and butter rationing.  We did a lot of candy making, fudge mostly, and we were good at it.  Paddy taught us how to make fudge, of all things; it was his favorite and he usually added peanut butter to it.  So good!  And Mother made cakes and cookies and pies and they were also very good, especially the huckleberry pies.  We would go into the woods near our house, with Mother leading the way and pick as many berries as we could without passing out from the sun.  And depending on how many berries were left when we got home, Mother would make one or two berry pies.

So of course we would run out of the ration stamps for sugar and butter very fast and then we would have to wait until the next month to get another book of ration stamps.  Well, we weren’t too happy about having to go without our goodies for that long a time.  So Mrs. D., our friend in need, came up with a plan to stretch those ration stamps.  And while it wasn’t exactly kosher, we didn’t think it was that bad.  After all, we had to have our sweets.  They actually made life worth living especially for us kids.

I am not sure exactly how we managed fixing the ration books but I know glue and scissors were involved and a “C’est la vie” attitude, which we certainly had.  At least Mrs. D. and I had that attitude.  My Mother washed her hands of us when she found out what we were doing.

There was another benefit about to come our way because of the war but it didn’t come about until a few years later.

To be continued.

 

9thDay ofNaBloPoMo/Growing Up

It took two months to hear back from the Welfare office about our appeal and we were anxious  the whole time.  But finally word came and it was positive that we were reinstated and would start receiving aid again.  We celebrated by having a cake that Mother had made especially for the occasion, with milk of course.  Mother had checked with Grandma Glennon to see if she had known about Himself turning Mother in and having the aid cut off.  Grandma swore that she did not know and said that she would have a serious talk with Father.  Mother thought to herself that she wouldn’t hold her breadth waiting for that to happen.

We did not see Father for a long time after that and it was just fine with us.  Around this time Mother decided to plant a garden of our own so we would have fresh vegetables.  Mrs. D. helped her by letting her know what fertilizer to use and how to put sticks by the tomatoes and beans so they would brace and or climb and soon we had our very own vegetables.  They were so tasty we even ate them raw.  And although the house was a shack, the yard was big and we had enough room to put some chicken wire up and soon we had a few chickens running around.  It did not take long for us kids to consider the chickens as pets.  We even gave them names.

Anna was in third grade at the Catholic school and since there was no kindergarten, I had just started in first grade.  Anna was two years older than I was and she took her position as older sister very seriously.  She helped me become acclimated to the Catholic school and the nuns if that was at all possible.  We had a long walk to school and had to cross railroad tracks at one point and a main street at another.  There were no crossing guards in those days so when I think back, it was actually pretty dangerous, if not actually that long a walk.  We of course had no car and Mother had to stay home with Joan who was now a toddler.  Mother took us on several trial walks on Saturdays when she could get someone to watch Joan or would take her along in the carriage.  But by the time I started school, Anna was an old hand at getting to school, so it didn’t seem like a big deal.  The snow of course was another matter.  The slipping and sliding was something else but most of the time we had snow boots.

One day as Anna and I started out for school, our dog “Buster” started to follow us.  We tried to get him to go back home but he just would not listen and by the time we got to Main Street, he ran into the street and started to bark at the cars going by.

To be continued.

8th Day of NaBloPoMo/Growing Up

Anna and Marion

Note to all who are following:  So sorry I forgot to publish this (Nov. 8th) yesterday.  I had it all ready early and just forgot to hit the publish button!

Mother managed to get a few jobs cleaning house which was hard and she would come home from work completely exhausted.  But overall we were doing well especially since we had the extra income coming in.  It helped pay for the coal and and clothes and shoes we needed, not to mention snow boots in the winter.  We lived in the Snow Belt and in Winter it never stopped snowing.

One day Mother got notice from the Welfare Department.  She had to attend a hearing about whether or not our monthly allotment was going to be cut off.  Even though it was hard to get to the hearing, Mother made sure she attended.   After taking a Street Car and then a bus to get there, she was very anxious.  She was sweating profusely and her heart was beating rapidly.  She was directed to a room where her usual worker and another woman were sitting at a long table.  They asked her to be seated at the other end of the table.

She later told us she felt tiny sitting at that big table and she also felt guilty for some reason.  The women proceeded to question her about whether she was working or not.  She told them honestly that she had done some house cleaning for a few people as the amount she was receiving was not enough to take care of all her bills.  The taller woman with the gray hair and beady eyes seemed to be boring a hole into her head and Mother immediately got a headache.

As it turns out Paddy, our Father had reported her to the Welfare people for working.  The nice woman who was her usual worker said that she would be cut off Welfare starting immediately but would continue to get the commodities.  Mother pleaded with them not to do it but to no avail.  They said their hands were tied and they could do nothing about it.  But she could appeal the decision.  So she filled out the paperwork to get the appeal going because without the money she was receiving, Mother did not know how we were going to make it.

On the way home Mother was thinking about Himself and how he could have reported her, knowing there was a possibility we would be cut off or at least be in trouble and not be able to pay the bills.  While he sat warm and comfy at his mother’s house.  She wondered if his Mother knew about this.  Well she was going to get to the bottom of it!