Small-town police stories

In our small town, the biggest issues of late have been domestic abuse arrests, operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, and a good number of arrests for possession or use of illegal substances. So, the police blotter has a tendency to be repetitive, even more so when factoring in fender benders.

A great story does occasionally surface, such as the next two.

Late evening a couple of weeks ago, Janine and I were watching one of our streaming shows, when someone knocked at our door. After shushing our little white dog, we answered.

One of our officers was knocking on doors as a couple tried to track phones accidentally left in our park during a photo session. The phones had been tracked to our neighborhood, so the search was on.

We hadn’t seen any, but it was good to chat a bit with the officer.

Couple of days later, I saw the officer and he volunteered that the search had been fruitful.

Just around our corner, he heard a phone ringing in a garage. He knocked on our nearby neighbors door and asked if anyone had found the phones.

Turns out, the kids of the house had found the phones in the restroom at the park. With no one at the park, they brought them home with questions for dad. He said he’d return them to the city offices in the morning.

Well, the phones started squawking when the “find phone” feature was turned on by the owners. The family couldn’t get them to stop, so the dad plopped them in the garage until morning.

When the officer knocked and asked about the ringing he heard, the dad gladly handed them over. “I couldn’t get the damn things to shut up!”

The other story involved a case of mistaken home identity. The same officer had been involved in this incident many years before but had to bring it up in our conversation, since we were already talking about odd happenings. He said it ranked up there as the strangest humorous thing he’d investigated.

A couple returned to their home after taking part in one of our town’s celebratory evenings and found a person in the basement sacked out on one of their beds. Freaked out, they called the police.

The person, when awakened, was nonplussed, said he was where he was supposed to be at the invitation of the owners of the place, who had told him it would be fine for him to stay overnight rather than drive all the way from whence he came.

Everything was where it was supposed to be, the door, the turn into the basement, the placement of the bed, etc., so he turned in.

The home he was supposed to occupy was a block over, same number on the door but a different street.

If that wasn’t odd enough, the officer telling the story told the chief of police that if he went to the home at which the gent was supposed to be at, he’d probably find a key in the mailbox. (At that point, our officer did not know the full extent of the arrangements). Chief said, “No way,” but took him up on the good-natured bet.

Sure enough, our officer’s instincts were spot on. The key to the home was in the mailbox.

There is some fun to be had in a small town.


Renewing acquaintances, part 12

This is the last of the trip tidbits.

Stories of individuals at Gettysburg stick with me the most.

The Confederates marched on Pennsylvania because they needed supplies, provisions for their army; and, we’re talking basic rations, nothing fancy. There wasn’t much left from where they started. Armies did move on their stomachs, and if a place which the armies passed had foodstuffs, they didn’t after the soldiers marched through.

The family of a freed slave had to leave the Gettysburg fields as the Confederates approached; had they been captured by the Confederates, it would have been slavery all over again.

A women left her home (two bedrooms with a loft to shelter a family of six, a common size of a farm home at that time) and her favorite peach tree, only to return to find her tree dead because of a burned horse carcass (a common way of disposing of dead animals at battlefields).

Clustered groups and battle lines suffered horrific casualties. Trenches, hastily erected fortifications, rocks and boulders helped a little, but not much. Fighting and dying in each company were farmers, youths, pastors, tradesmen and wastrels, all known to each other, since soldiers tended to serve with people from their own towns and areas.

The accounts of field hospitals turned my stomach.

If the wind was right, folks in the path of an approaching army could smell them coming; personal hygiene kind of went by the wayside, and soldiers were carrying their own rations without refrigeration.

So, home again, it’s kind of an overused way to summarize a good road trip, but I’ll say it anyway. I learned a lot, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. But, I’ll have a spare tire, bought locally, in a carrier somewhere on the vehicle, a bolt cutter and a spare cable lock.

Silly me. Forgot the photos!

In my fun in posting thoughts from our summer trip, I completely forgot to add photos appropriate to the topics!

Time to catch up.

IMG_2704Peas Eddy Road, New York: A view unsullied by motorboat wakes, although we ventured onto the lazy current with canoe and kayak.


Bicycling along a canal near Canal Road in Franklin, N.J., while visiting family. This is a great use of abandoned canals. It’s maintained very well, too. There were plenty of turtles taking advantage of the sun to soak up the rays.

IMG_2737Fall out! Gettysburg enactors paused before heading for their campsite.

IMG_2747Gettysburg enactors demonstrated firing techniques used in battle. The hapless soldier closest to the camera in the back row was having trouble with his musket.

Renewing acquaintances, part 11

I’m saving the best ’til now, penultimately., our three days at Gettysburg National Military Park.

Hands down, I’m recommending a visit to this historic site and its ongoing efforts to preserve and restore the area for future generations. (Don’t climb on the cannon. You’ll get yelled at.)

There were ranger talks aplenty, and we stuffed in as many as we could, learning much that our individual guides passed along from research in primary sources: Logistics, tactics and tragedies of armed conflict during a three-day battle at the site during the Civil War boggled my mind.

Killed, wounded, captured or missing were approximately 23,000 Union persons and as many as 28,000 Confederate persons. More than 6,800 were killed. The 51,000 casualties at Gettysburg, estimated by the Civil War Trust — casualties, deaths, wounds, injuries, sickness, internment or capture — numbered 51,000, the most of any battle in the war.

Some estimates figure as many as 850,000 died from combat, accident, starvation and disease during the Civil War. The biggest killer was diarrhea. (“Go figure.”) Then, you have to figure in outmoded tactics in the face of better technology: rifled barrels in the hands of skilled shooters, cannon that belched the standard ball, as well as the shells loaded with shot that turned a hapless soldier into a pink mist, and the howitzer load, that arced above the fighters, exploded and rained shrapnel.

It wasn’t until the Vietnam War that that the number of American deaths in foreign wars (currently 644,000) eclipsed the number of deaths in the Civil War.

War is hell, and I needed to be reminded. I hope I don’t forget.

Renewing acquaintances, part 10

On the way back to home base after a couple of weeks away, we had overnight stops (and plenty of conversation), one night with a pastor of Taiwanese Presbyterian church in Livingston, New Jersey, another  with friends in Hagerstown, Maryland, friends who moved there from a town near us, another with a long-time friend in Franklin, Indiana, (Janine babysat for her kids), the last with Janine’s sister and our daughter in Iowa City.

When we hit Highway 20 on the last day, we knew we were on the home stretch.

Losing the key to the locking cable for our bicycles waited until we weren’t planning on riding. That was lucky. Back home and one snip from a bolt cutter, and that problem was solved.

Renewing acquaintances, part nine

Our niece and her husband put us up for a several nights at their home in Griggstown, New Jersey. He’s a pastor. Their pup Pilgrm, a miniature Australian shepherd, helped welcome, enthusiastically so (So, what do I look like, Pilgrim? A sheep?).

While enjoying their hospitality, we visited Princeton (taking a tour that would delight anyone who loves highfalutin’ names and shameless cheerleading about liberal arts education from a exponentially-endowed Ivy-League university).

Janine picked up a rather large splinter walking barefoot (a pretty logical outcome, right?) on the Asbury park boardwalk [literally] on the Jersey shore.

Thanks to our hosts’ medical supplies and equipment and my insensitive way of yanking splinters, minor surgery ended the threat of a limp for the rest of the trip.

We were driven (confidently, not the passive tense) to a community theater performance of Mary Poppins for an evening’s entertainment. Our niece had it worked out so we got to the outdoor theater to plant four lawn chairs in great spots, were able to walk to a great restaurant, where I ate far too much, than waddle back to take our seats for the outdoor performance.

Community theater can be a quality experience. And, yes, Mary Poppins and Bert “flew” in this performance. Even without the special effects, its a great chestnut of a musical.

Renewing acquaintances, part eight

In our short stay at Peas Eddy, Janine and I and our hosts took advantage of the eddies on the Upper Delaware pool, inexpertly paddling about in kayaks and canoes (more conversation, too!).

There are no motorized crafts allowed, so that took one variable out of watercraft. Paddling up against a placid current was work enough to make the paddler feel good about making progress against it. And the trip back was placid, drifting where the water willed.

Particularly fun was finding a place where the river bottom shallowed enough to partially divert the current, sending you around a swirl, a gentle, natural merry-go-round.

Looking into the shallows was entertaining, too. I spotted a pair of fishing pliers that some boating angler had either lost or didn’t care that it was gone.

A trip highlight? ( This may seem weird, but this is me being honest.)

The next stage of our ramblings involved Sunday-morning driving on practically deserted eastern, winding, GPS-confusing two-way roads, listening to a water-powered radio station playing the entire Moody Blues album Days of Future Passed. (‘Nuff said. Somebody out there will sigh reading this.)

It was so much fun singing along.