Sunday, May 6, 2018

VERNA P. HILL - GRANDMA

Today is my Grandma Hill's birthday.  For the occasion I was going to re-post the blog entry I wrote about her.  I did a quick search on the blog to find the entry and to my total surprize it did not show up.  I scrolled through the blog entries to find it and did not find a blog entry for her.  I felt bad.  I have written numerous stories about my Grandma Clark, my Grandpa Hill, all my Uncles and Aunts that have passed away but not one entry about my Grandma Hill.  I have 472 entries in the blog yet she is missing.

Then I noticed something.  When I did my search on the blog for her, I came up with around 20 results.  The results were entries about my Grandpa, my aunts and uncles and stories of growing up and visiting the Frisco yard.

Here is the thing.  I had written all these different stories about life in the Hill family and grandma was always there.  Her life was involved in everything.  She was the rock in the family.  She was the one that people came to.  She was the one that led us all in the right direction, even her husband.

Here is my Grandma Hill in a nutshell.

She was wise but meek.  She was strict but gentle.  She held everyone to the rules but had forgiveness.  She welcomed strangers into her house and cared for them even though she could see they brought their problems on themselves.  She lived a clean life but nursed the sick in her home.  She would give hobos who were hungry and penniless food if they stopped by.  She kept my grandfather in line while being a dutiful wife and talking problems over with him before he made a decision.  She never hated, but loved and people loved her in return.

Here is one story that pretty much defines Grandma.  I was sitting with her at Grandpa's funeral visitation.  She looked over her shoulder and saw a broken old man making his way up the aisle.

"Good gracious" she said with a slight sigh.  "That is so and so (I don't remember the name of the man)"

"Who is he?" I asked with a very curious tone in my voice.

Here was her answer.  "He worked at the Frisco with your grandpa.  He was a drunk.  He use to get drunk all the time and your grandpa would bring him home at times.  We fed him and gave him coffee to sober him up.  Sometimes he would sleep on the couch.  Your grandpa didn't think a man should go home to his wife in that shape so he took the chore on to sober him up and then take him home."  She was watching him the whole time as he went and paid his respects to my grandfather lying in the casket.  He then turned and came over to Grandma.  She was so nice and sincere as she talked to him and thanked him for coming that night.  The man relayed his thoughts on what a great man he thought my grandpa was and then thanked grandma for all of her help.  He held both of them in very high esteem.  After he left, grandma had a smile on her face.  All those years ago she had helped grandpa keep this man's life in line as much as they could, and she knew it was the right thing to do.

I know this is short and there is so much to write about her.  But then I think, I have written SO much about her in this blog.   Her life is here in so many examples of what a wonderful beautiful caring and loving person she was.

This is for her.  This is for her children and grandchildren and all of those people she showed Christian love to.

She was a great woman who had a huge influence on not only me, but so very many people.

I love you Grandma and I miss you terribly.  Thank you for all the life lessons you taught me.

Friday, April 27, 2018

MURDER MYSTERY IN MY YARD

THE FOLLOWING IS MORE A LESS A TRUE STORY.  NONE OF THE NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED BECAUSE THEY KNOW WHO THEY ARE.

The last thing I do before I go to bed at night is to take my constant and best companion, Dutch, out in the front yard with me so that he can take care of any unfinished business while I grab a smoke.  Ordinarily it is an uneventful time for the two of us.  Dutch weighs in at about sixty pounds and is strong enough that I have to be on alert when we go out.  If Dutch spies a stray cat or the occasional possum, he has a tendency to lunge toward the night stalker and I must be prepared.  One night a couple of years ago I was not being very vigilant when Dutch spotted one of those night creepers.  He lunged and pulled me over.  My right foot was planted firmly though and my leg snapped in half.  After Dutch realized what had happened he dragged me up to the front porch so I could seek aid.

On this night however I was being vigilant and at the ready for such a sudden pull so that when it did come, I was ready.  Dutch pulled forward and started barking.  I looked down the street to see what was catching his sharp eyes.  I saw nothing.  He continued to pull and bark and no matter how much I tried to calm him down he would not give it up continuing to pull and to bark until I finally saw what I thought he was after.

It was a very dark spot in the middle of the yard.  I squinted my eyes trying to make out what it was but could not figure it out.  I did notice it wasn't moving and seeing how Dutch was so set on the figure I thought I should try to see what it was.  I took Dutch back into the house where he went over to the window to observe what I was doing. As I approached the dark spot I started to notice it had shape and depth to it.  As I circled around I finally came to the proper conclusion.  It was a midnight black cat and it appeared to be dead.  I started looking around for any indication of how this victim had ended up in my front yard.  I did not find any clues but it was dark that night as clouds were hiding the moon and the light it usually reflects.  I decided I would wait until the morning and do an investigation then.

When I awoke the next morning, I found it to be gray, cold and cloudy with a slight chance of snow.  A perfect day to investigate the heinous crime that had left a victim in my front yard.  I donned my Eddie Bower sweatshirt jacket with a hoodie and headed out to the crime scene.  When I got to the unfortunate one I discovered that I had been right the night before.  It was a totally black cat laying on its side and it was indeed dead.  I made this observation by taking note that it had not moved since Dutch had discovered it the night before.  I pulled my Pentel .05mm mechanical pencil and my note pad out of my pocket and began taking notes.  The cat's head was facing the street and its four paws were pointing to the south.  I looked over the cats body as it lay there and I did not see any wounds or blood at all.  That was curious.  Perhaps I would find more clues on the underside of the cat.

I had seen a pesky raccoon on the roof of one of my neighbor's house a few days before and it crossed my mind that the cat could have died from a rabies infection.  I decided it would probably be best for me not to actually touch the cat so I went into my garage and retrieved one of my forensic tools that I keep for just such an occasion.

I brought my snow shovel out and walked calmly over to the cat.  I slip the blade of the shovel under the cat and lifted it up a bit until its body slid completely onto the blade.  I stepped on the handle of the instrument in order to lift the blade up out of the grass giving me a better look at the body that lie before me.  I took notes of my observations as I tried to find clues.  I estimated the cat to weigh approximately eight to ten pounds.  It was totally black with not one white spot showing.  This, I knew, would have to be taken into account while I looked for blood.  I studied the fur of the unfortunate soul and did not find any wet spots indicating that there was not any blood that I could detect.

As I continued to take notes on my little pad thinking that no detail was too small to be noted, I felt like I was being watched.  I squatted down pretending to take a closer look at the cat and started to slyly take glances around.  I look at my own house and, as expected, saw Dutch's eye peering over the bottom of the window watching every move I made.  I glanced over to Lori's house and saw a space in the blinds that revealed her two eye watching intently.  I glanced across the street and saw the big figure of Chuck standing in his kitchen in the back side of his house watching though his front window from there.  I quickly turned my head to the house on the south side and saw the front door close quickly but quietly.  Yes, the neighbors were watching the investigation with a lot of interest.  Maybe a little too much interest.  I did not have time just yet to worry about the neighbors, I needed to wrap up my observations.

I checked the cats face.  The eyes were closed, shut tight.  The mouth showed what I thought could be construed as a painful look, halfway open with its sharp little teeth barely visible.  I checked the front legs and paws of the cat and did not find any defensive wounds at all.  I must be missing something.  I started replaying episodes of Law and Order along with Blue Bloods trying to bring to mind anything I may be missing in the investigation.  I could not think of anything I was overlooking.

I stood up and looked over my notes, flipping through the fifteen or so pages that I had written down.  It didn't make sense.  I stood and looked over the cat one more time, checked my notes and then went to get the body bag for the cat.  I went to the garage and came out with a thirty gallon garbage sack that on this day would serve as the body bag.  I picked up the shovel and placed the cat into the bag, tying it off at the top to secure any evidence I may have missed in case I think of something later on in the investigation.  I carried the bag to the north side of the house and gently tossed it up against the house then stood studying my notes more.  I had come to what I thought was the answer to what had brought the cat to its untimely demise.  It was the raccoon.  I walked it through my head.  I figured that the raccoon had snuck up on the cat one day, or night, last week and had scratched it or placed a small bite on the cat.  The cat had probably thought it was a tick or flea bite and shook it off without thinking anything of it.  The rabies poison had settled into the cats bloodstream and started doing its damage.  Yes, I would have to find the raccoon and bring it to justice by calling Kansas City Animal Control to arrest it and take it away.

About that time my neighbor on the north side came walking out.  Charlene is a beautiful elderly lady who keeps a sharp eye on what is happening in the neighborhood.  She made her way towards me with her hands on her hips as always.

"What's up?" she asked seriously.

"Well Charlene, Dutch found a dead cat in the front yard last night." and I proceeded to share my notes with her from the investigation.  She stared at me as I relayed the facts of the case in amazement.  I assume that she didn't realize my abilities as an investigator and so she was indeed stunned.  She lifted her hand and started waving it at me as if to signal me to stop so she could say something.

"Have you talked to Chuck about this?" she asked in total amazement that I had not interviewed any potential witnesses as of yet.

"Well, no, not yet.  You are the first witness I have talked to.  You are a witness I presume?  Did you see anything last night?"  I was firm in my questioning to let her know she should not try to put anything over on me.

"Well, no I personally did not see anything, but Chuck said he did."

"And what did Chuck have to tell you about this?"

"Well," Charlene began giving me a rather strange look, "Chuck said that a car had come down the street just as the cat was crossing and it hit the cat.  Car didn't stop I guess.  He said that he walked over to the cat to see if he could help it, but the cat hissed at him, so he walked away."  Charlene was still looking at me in wonderment at my ability to investigate.  I had obviously asked the right question.

Charlene pointed at my pad of notes and pointed at it without taking her eyes off of me.

"So, do you have a suspect yet?" she asked with a hint of a smile.  That smile told me she knew I did have an idea of who was responsible for the crime.

"I figure it was the raccoon."

"The, umm, raccoon?" Charlene repeated.

"Yes, the raccoon.  I saw it top of Sally's house the other day so he is out and about.  I think he did a sneak attack on the cat and poisoned him with rabies"  I said while using my hands to point to Sally's roof and then to the spot where the body had been found.

Charlene sighed before putting her hand over her mouth. "Well, you could be right on that one.  I am guessing the hiss of the cat points it that way?"

"That's the way I see it."  I looked over at Chuck's place to see him just exiting his house.  "Thanks Charlene.  Think I'll have a little talk with Chuck now."

Charlene turned and went back to her house shaking her head as I started to cross the street to talk to Chuck.

Chuck is a big guy.  He stands about six foot two and weighs in at about 270 I would guess and he is a talker.  Chuck loves to talk and doesn't seem to hear what others may be saying to him.  I waved at him.

"Hey Chuck, you got a second to answer a couple of questions?"

Chuck stopped and looked at me.  "Depends.  You got an extra smoke?"

"Really Chuck?  You need a smoke to answer a question or two?"

"I remember things better if I have a smoke." Chuck stated matter of factly.

"Okay, okay," I reached in my pocket and pulled out a smoke for him " Here you go, now I got just a couple of...."

"You got a light?" Chuck was looking at me holding out the cigarette.

"Geez Chuck.  You haven't bought that lighter yet?"

Chuck stared down at me. "I said ... Do.... you ... have... a LIGHT?" He was emphasizing his words by stabbing the cigarette in the air towards my face.

I reached back in my pocket and pulled out my light and handed it to him.  He lit the smoke and took a couple of puffs staring off into the cold sky.  He slowly lowered his head and looked at me.

"Okay, now what is it you want to know?"

"Well, it's about a cat me and Dutch found in the front yard last night.  I was wondering if you could tell me anything about it."

Chuck smiled and started pacing back and forth a couple of steps at a time.

"Sure I can tell you all about that.  You see it was last night, before you and that mutt came out like you always do.  What is that about anyway? No matter. Okay the cat.  I was out last night taking in some air and seeing if it was snowing yet when I seen this cat you see.  Now, I have never seen this cat around here before.  You know Lori over there has a black cat but it has a lot of white on it too but this cat, well this cat was solid black.  Blackest cat I ever seen.  Well, this cat is in my front yard you know and I don't really care if it is in my yard, but something about that black cat spooked me so I took a step towards it to shoo it off and it stopped and look at me then started to run across the street.  Just then, just as this cat was heading in the street this car come racing down the street and BAM! hit the cat.  Car didn't stop, didn't even slow down.  I reckon he didn't know he had hit the cat.  Well, that cat, he is laying out in the middle of the street and I could see it was still moving you know so I go out to see if I can help it at all.  Well, as soon as I get within five feet of that thing it started hissing at me.  I don't need no hissing cat at me and besides, hey have you seen that raccoon hanging around here? well I have and I figure maybe that cat got the rabies from the raccoon and that is why it was hissing at me, so I told myself I don't want to mess with a rabies filled hissing cat so I walked back over here.  I stood out here and watched it for awhile and it started to pull itself, well it was more of a crawl I guess but it started crawling over towards your place.  Got into your front yard and stopped.  I figured it was dead at that point or would be shortly, so I went back in the house.  Nothing I could do for it, you know.  It was in pretty bad shape, so I went back in the house."

I gave up trying to take notes on Chuck's account as to what had happened because I couldn't keep up with him.

"That answer your question?" Chuck asked.

"Yes sir, I believe it does.  Thanks Chuck."

"No problem," Chuck said as he went and got in his car.

I stood there and thought about Chucks version.  It pretty well matched up with what Charlene had said but then again, Charlene had gotten her facts from Chuck so you would expect their stories to match.  Chuck had mentioned the raccoon though while Charlene didn't seem to know about any raccoon in the area.  If Chuck's version was right, then you couldn't really blame the raccoon for the death since a car was the actual cause of death.

About that time Susan and Cory, who are my neighbors to the south came out of their house getting ready to go to breakfast.  I decided it was worth a shot to see if they had any more information.

"HEY SUSAN, CORY, YOU GOT SEC?" I yelled over to them.

"Sure,". Susan said, "What can we do for you?"

They are a young couple who are extremely nice.  They haven't lived there but a couple of weeks so this crime was their indoctrination to the neighborhood.

"Well, I am looking into the case of this dead cat Dutch found in the yard last night."I explained.

Susan lowered her eyes, "Oh yes, that cat.  It was awful.  It was so very sad." and she reached out and held her husbands hand.  "A car hit it last night.  I was just getting home when it happened."

Susan looked over at Cory who nodded his head to urge her on.

Susan sighed.  "The car didn't even stop.  It just kept on going.  So, so very sad." and Susan sniffled a bit.

I softened my voice as I continued to ask her questions knowing how upset she was.

"What happened after the car drove off?"

"Well, that man over there," she said pointing towards Chuck's house, "He came out to try to help the poor thing but I guess the cat was in a lot of pain."  She stopped and thought for a second.  "I think it was in pain because it hissed at that man and he was just trying to help.  Then the poor thing crawled over into your yard and...."

Susan broke down and sobbed.  Cory put his arm around Susan's shoulders and whispered "and it died there, in your yard."

"Thanks.  I appreciate your help" I said as I watched Cory lead Susan to the car and gently help her in before shutting the door.

I sat on the front porch and looked over my notes.  I reran the witness interviews in my head.  It seemed that they all pretty much coincided.  I was convinced it was that filthy raccoon but in the end, I could not pin it on him.  Sure, the raccoon may have poisoned the cat, that was a definite possibility but it wasn't the rabies poison that killed the cat.  No it was a speeding out of control car.

I went in and typed up a report spelling out my conclusion on the murder in my front yard on my computer.  I proof read it correcting any mistakes I happened to find.  I sent the report to the printer and printed it out in nice bold type.  After placing the official report in a folder, I tucked it under my arm and walked out to my car.

About that time Charlene came striding out of her house.

"Where you headed?" she asked excitingly.  Charlene didn't drive so I thought she needed a ride somewhere.

I held up the report in my hand and said, "Taking this report I typed up on the murder to the police station.  They probably can use all the help they can get."

Charlene's eyes lit up and a small smile crossed her lips.  "I was hoping ... I mean thought you might be going up there.  Mind if I ride along?  I would love to see them express their appreciation to you."

"Sure, hop in. It will be nice to have some company going up there."

She got in the car quickly and fastened her seat belt. "Okay, let's go" she said with a touch of excitement in her voice.

So Charlene and myself headed to the station.  I had a feeling that the police would be very interested in this report and probably be very thankful to have such responsible citizens in the city trying to help them out.