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.

THOSE WERE THE DAYS continuing story….

Grandmother/Mom
Grandmother/Mom

Mom, who was our grandmother, but insisted that her grandchildren call her mom, was a major force in my mother’s family and therefore in our family as well.  As a result of having to call her mom, we had to call my mother, mother.

When we were children, we often went to visit Mom with my mother.  She lived several blocks away and since we did not have a car, walking would have to do.  Three of mom’s daughters, she had eight, lived with her at the time.  And a few had married and had their own homes and families.  Two became teachers and the rest worked in the silk mills in the area and turned in their pay to mom as long as they were living at home.  Mom used some of the money to send two of the youngest girls to Teacher’s College.  Mom was very progressive especially being she was from the “Old Country”.

We, my sisters and I, were shy and would hide behind my mother if we were asked any questions when we visited.  Mom would comment on how bashful we were and my mother would scoff and say, “They are not that way at home!  Can’t keep them quiet there.”  Which of course, made us more bashful when we were out..

We kids enjoyed playing in mom’s large backyard where she kept chickens and had a vegetable garden.  We made up our own games and were usually pretty tired when mother would call us in for a snack of lemonade and cookies that mom had made.  Usually oatmeal and raisin cookies and the lemonade was so cool and refreshing that we guzzled it down.

After all the playing and then walking home we kids were pretty tired and usually took a nap, giving mother a brief respite and maybe a visit with her friend and neighbor, Mrs. Kelly.  Mrs. Kelly lived right next door to us and had a large yard in which were planted all manner of vegetables.  She used to give us vegetables on a regular basis, anywhere from carrots to tomatoes and onions.  My mother would make wonderful stews with chunks of meat and always potatoes added.  My mother had a small garden and even some chickens but with four children, was always grateful for donations of food especially around the holidays.

Mrs. Kelly, in addition to being very helpful to us, was also a bad influence on my mother, teaching her to smoke and sometimes drink alcohol.  But mother never became a big drinker and she never became a heavy smoker either, in spite of Mrs. Kelly.  But they did have a good time when they got together.  They both loved hearing and telling a good story.  There was always a lot of laughing when they got together.

To be continued.

THE DAY I SMASHED THE WINDOW!

Marion and Kay

THE DAY I SMASHED THE WINDOW

It was a bright snowy day as I trudged home from school that cold winter afternoon.  My older sister, who was usually with me as we walked to and from school, most if not all school days, was missing.  Today she had to stay later to practice for the upcoming play that she was starring in.   She was playing the part of Gabriel, the angel who announces to Mary that she was to be the Mother of God.  She had some singing in latin, which required not only a knowledge of latin but it helped if you had a pleasant singing voice.  We of course were attending Catholic school, so our plays mostly had a religious theme.  Of course two years of latin was required also in high school.  And the mass was in Latin at that time.  She qualified on all points, plus she was very pretty with long blond hair.  She made the perfect angel.

I approached the house which my mother called, “the shack,” ever since we had moved here from the nice house we had previously.  And it was a shack! The roof leaked, the wind whistled through the cracks in the house and the toilet was practically outside.  There was a lean to attached to the house and a roof and door that closed, so it wasn’t too bad.   It was cold though and the toilet seat would freeze over in winter.  I was starting to get chills from the wind which had picked up and my feet were soaked.   As I approached the house I was looking forward to sitting by the stove and warming myself.

I did not remember whether father was going to be home today or not.  He was supposed to be out looking for a job, which meant that mother would be home and I was happy about that.  I did not want to hear them quarreling again and mother usually had a snack for us after school, cookies and cocoa or tea always warmed me and made me feel good.

Mostly, I went around to the kitchen door and took my boots, if I had any, off and shook any snow off before coming into the house.  But I was so cold and miserable I decided to go in through the front door.  I tried the door and it didn’t budge, so I tried it again.  No luck.  Then I decided to knock because I knew someone was home, I could hear the radio.  I banged on the glass in the window.  There were six separate panes of glass in the top of the door, the bottom half was wood. No one was coming to the door.

I did have a temper and after knocking several times I was getting angry in addition to being cold and having wet feet, so I banged harder than I should have.  Just then, on the third bang, the glass shattered!  Some of the glass chips cut into my wrist and I started to bleed.  Now I could hear footsteps coming to the door and also yelling and cursing!  My wrist was bleeding pretty good at this point from the broken glass shards and I could feel myself being pulled inside!

“What the hell?”  Father was screaming as he dragged me inside.  The sound of his raised voice and his grip on my arms was starting to hurt.  The blood was getting all over my coat as I managed to get away from him.  I quickly ran upstairs and sat on the bed.  But he followed me upstairs and I knew I was in for it.

 

To Be Continued.

 

MINING FOR GOLD

While I was brainstorming, trying to think of something I could write for today’s assignment. That something was to include mining a nugget in your old posts, your tweets, your Facebook site and on and on.

Well, I just had a sparkling thought after seeing this picture of myself several years ago as I was standing outside of the apartment complex by the beach. I was Assistant Manager at the complex and it was only myself or the manager in the office at any given time.

It was a one person office if you will. We, along with a maintenance man, had to handle everything that happened for the day. Could be people coming in to look for an apartment, a complaint by a tenant, or tenants coming in to pay rent or writing a lease agreement.

Of course many other things happened during the day, a flood in an apartment from a toilet overflowing to a sink in the kitchen blocked to someone screaming at you because you had their car towed for being in the wrong parking place.

One day as I was speaking to someone who had come into the office to look at an apartment, the phone rang. Now, at that time I was new to the office, having just started working a few months before. I did not know a lot of the tenants as there was thirty-four apartments and most units had at least two people or more. We had one and two bedroom apartments. There was quite a few people to get to know and they were coming and going on a fairly regular basis.

I picked up the phone and the woman identified herself as a tenant. She went on to tell me about her problem, which I was only half listening to because I had a person in front of me who was anxious to look at an apartment. The conversation on the phone went something like this:
“Hello,” the caller said.
After identifying myself, I said, “How can I help you?”
“Where’s Marlene?” caller.
“She is off today, can I help you with anything?”
The caller went on and on about some perceived problem, which I knew I was not going to be able to do anything about.
The person in front of me was getting antsy and I held my finger up in the ‘wait a moment’ signal.
The caller was still going on when I finally said, “Do you want to bottom line it for me.”
Now unbeknownst to me the caller was a long time resident at the apartments.  She was ninety-five years old, and her name was Mary. The manager had always treated Mary with the utmost respect, even driving her to the bank, and the grocery store on occasion.
“The bottom line is,” the caller went on without losing a beat. She told me her problem in a few short words and I told her what I could do to help.
I also took care of the person in front of me and all was well.

After that day though, whenever Mary, who I’d told to “bottom line” it, would, when she came into the office, say to me, “You are not Marlene!”
Whereupon, I would retort, “Very perceptive of you Mary.”  She always got a laugh out of that.
She had a good sense of humor and we went on to become, if not friends, then friendly.

Both she and her husband, who lived to be over a hundred years old, lived in the beachfront apartments until the end of both of their lives.  It had been their dream, they said to live at the beachfront until the end.

A 50 Word Story

4th Of July

The explosions were going off all around me!

The dogs were whining and the babies crying!

My head hurt and it was just starting.

But I did promise to come.

But now I am sorry for that promise.

Promise or not, think I am going home.

Sayonara!

THE CONTINUING SAGA OF GROWING UP.

mother and girlsThis story is from my archives.  It is a continuing story, memoir or autobiography of my life as I remember it.  I am repeating a section of it here today, because I can’t think of anything for today’s assignment, even though I have wracked by brain to think of something close to what we are supposed to do. 

So, hope you enjoy it and I will do the next in the series of, “Growing Up” just to close this particular section.  And I will also do tomorrow’s assignment on time or at least try to.

GROWING UP

I was fourteen years old when my father left for the last time, at least we hoped it was the last time. Life resumed its normal rhythm and we managed to get through that Summer in much the same way that we were used to. Although my sister, who was sixteen now, had quit school in tenth grade to work full-time. She then changed her mind after working in a factory for a while and decided to go back to school and graduate.
My mother was glad even though there would be less money coming in now; she thought it was more important to graduate. I was a freshman now and considered myself quite grown up and should be able to do whatever I wanted. My mother, easygoing as she was most times, had other ideas about that. I was not a problem in my teens like some other of my peers and since I was responsible and helped out at home, my mother trusted me.

I was still working at the coke and jukebox place for the rest of that Summer and paying for my expenses at school, so I was pretty independent. One day as I was working with the one other waitress who was also on duty, guess who walks into the place with a big smile on his face? My father! I hadn’t seen him since the big blow up between himself and my mother a few months ago, when he stormed out with my mother’s encouragement. That was over my sister having her sixteenth birthday party in our basement, which he was adamantly against. We hadn’t heard from him since that time and he had never even said goodby when he left and here he was waltzing in here to see me. Not sure what he was after but I was having none of it.

He sat down at the counter and I anxiously tried to get Trudy, the other waitress, to wait on him but she said she was too busy. So I, against my better judgement, walked over to where he was sitting. He was sitting at the counter in spite of several empty booths and without even saying hello, I asked what he wanted. He had a funny smile on his face as though he knew I wanted to slap him, now that I was big enough. He was only about five feet six, with a slight build although he had a lot more muscle tone than I did. He was always exercising and lifting weights and I am sure even though I was five feet five at the time, not much shorter than he, I was in no shape to be challenging him. My mouth was another story.

He said he would have a hamburger and french fries. “Oh crap” I thought, “he wants me to cook for him. Damn!” I really was angry at him and now I had to cook something and serve him. I went into the kitchen and started banging around and making a lot of noise. First of course I had to pour him a cup of coffee, which had been sitting there for hours and I knew how he liked it freshly made or he wouldn’t drink it. So I got some satisfaction from that. He didn’t say anything about it though. He just sat there with that sickening smile. I continued banging around in the kitchen and finally I came out and slammed the plate down in front of him. I walked away and went over to Trudy and she was looking at me with a, “What’s the matter with you,” look on her face. I couldn’t explain who he was to her, not while he was still sitting there.

 

Mining for gold

While I was brainstorming, trying to think of something I could write for today’s assignment. That something was to include mining a nugget in your old posts, your tweets, your Facebook site and on and on.

Well, I just had a sparkling thought after seeing this picture of myself several years ago as I was standing outside of the apartment complex by the beach. I was Assistant Manager at the complex and it was only myself or the manager in the office at any given time.

It was a one person office if you will. We, along with a maintenance man, had to handle everything that happened for the day. Could be people coming in to look for an apartment, a complaint by a tenant, or tenants coming in to pay rent or writing a lease agreement.

Of course many other things happened during the day, a flood in an apartment from a toilet overflowing to a sink in the kitchen blocked to someone screaming at you because you had their car towed for being in the wrong parking place.

One day as I was speaking to someone who had come into the office to look at an apartment, the phone rang. Now, at that time I was new to the office, having just started working a few months before. I did not know a lot of the tenants as there was thirty-four apartments and most units had at least two people or more. We had one and two bedroom apartments. So a lot of people to get to know and they were coming and going on a fairly regular basis.

I picked up the phone and the woman identified herself as a tenant. She went on to tell me about her problem, which I was only half listening to because I had a person in front of me who was anxious to look at an apartment. The conversation on the phone went something like this:
“Hello,” the caller said.
After identifying myself, I said, “How can I help you?”
“Where’s Marlene?” caller.
“She is off today, can I help you with anything?”
The caller then went on and on about some perceived problem, which I knew I was not going to be able to do anything about.
The person in front of me was getting antsy and I held my finger up in the ‘wait a moment’ signal.
The caller was still going on when I finally said, “Do you want to bottom line it for me.”
Now unbeknownst to me the caller was a long time resident of ninety-five years old, whose name was Mary. The manager had always treated Mary with the utmost respect.
“The bottom line is,” the caller went on without losing a beat. She told me her problem in a few short words and I told her what I could do to help.
I also took care of the person in front of me and all was well.
After that day though, whenever Mary, who I’d told to “bottom line” it, would, when she came into the office, say to me, “You are not Marlene!”
Whereupon, I would retort, “Very perceptive of you Mary.”
She had a good sense of humor and we went on to become, if not friends, then friendly.

A STORY TO REMEMBER

Acrylic painting of Santa
Acrylic painting of Santa

This is for the 101 Writing Challenge to write a story in 50-100-150 words. If you are used to writing longer pieces,it is hard to do especially for me, as I tend to go on and on…….
I pared this down to 249 words. That was the best I could do.

It was right before Christmas when mother told us that Aunt Wynne was coming to visit. We really liked Aunt Wynne because she was funny and always acted like a kid herself. We couldn’t wait to see her.

The first words out of Aunt Wynne’s mouth were, “By the way, Santa will not be coming this year. He was arrested and is now in jail. So I guess none of you will be getting any presents on Christmas.”

My two younger sisters started crying. I was seven years old, and my older sister was nine. We were kind of on the borderline between believing and not believing, so I was trying to hold back the tears that were escaping despite my efforts.

My mother came in with cookies and lemonade and noticed the tears flowing. When she heard what Aunt Wynne was telling us, she got angry and demanded that Aunt Wynne recant her story. She said that she was only joking to see how we would react. Mother told us we would be getting presents on Christmas.

Aunt Wynne left shortly thereafter, and we did not see her on Christmas or for a long while after. We were very happy that Santa was not in jail and he would be visiting our house.

BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

_Eleanor Roosevelt

I looked up to Eleanor Roosevelt because she was the wife of Franklin Roosevelt and he was my hero from the time I was a child.  He had been in office for four terms which was unheard of at the time.

This saying by Roosevelt reminds me of when I was growing up and constantly being compared to my father by my mother, whenever I did something she disapproved of.  Which was pretty often as I recall.

My father had left us so many times I could not keep track.  He lost his job as a teacher and refused to work in any other capacity after that.  So as a result we were poor as church mice and my mother had to take up the reins of the bread winner and get a job.  Not easy when you have four kids to take care of.

So father was not in any of our good graces as you might expect.  And when my mother would say to me, “You are just like your father,” I knew I was being insulted and was constantly struggling for a response.  This is what I came up with and for a kid of seven years old, I thought it was pretty good.

“Well, at least he is good looking!” I would shout back at mother.  I think that took her by surprise and she had to laugh, saying,”You got me there.”  We would then have a standoff until the next time.

I never accepted that fact that I was in some way inferior because of the constant reminder of being like my father.  I decided that I was just as good if not better than everybody else.

Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote has always resonated with me.  She was a strong woman and good example especially for women and girls.