The Case of the Missing Lawn Chairs #TuesdayTidbit #Memoir #Inspiration

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. Her brown hair is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

 

THE CASE OF THE MISSING LAWN CHAIRS

By Abbie Johnson Taylor

Copyright 2021.

 

“Somebody stole our lawn chairs!” Dad announced.

For many years during the summer months, my family attended weekly band concerts at Kendrick Park in Sheridan, Wyoming, on Tuesday evenings after dinner. We brought lawn chairs and listened to the community band playing old standards, marches, and popular songs. Afterward, we trekked to a nearby ice cream stand for dessert, leaving our lawn chairs stashed behind a tree out of the way, sure in the knowledge that they would still be there when we returned to claim them before walking home. But now, all we could do was gape at the empty spot where we expected the chairs to be.

It was the summer of 1983, and I was home from college on break between my junior and senior years. My ten-year-old cousin, Shelley, who was visiting from South Dakota with her family, had accompanied Dad and me and our Irish setter Clancy to the park. She said, “Oh, no.”

Clancy had wandered off and was sniffing something nearby, blissfully unaware of this tragedy. Dad finally said, “Well, why don’t you two start walking home? I’ll look around and see if whoever took them dumped them somewhere else. I left my New Yorker magazine in my chair, and I wasn’t finished reading it.”

With Clancy, he headed off in one direction while Shelley and I sauntered the other way toward home, which was only about a block away. While waiting to cross a busy street, Shelley suddenly cried, “Look, there are our chairs.”

“Where?” I asked, turning my head this way and that. With my limited vision, I couldn’t spot them.

“They were in the back of that pick-up that passed us. One of the guys in the cab just gave us the finger.”

“Let’s wait for Dad,” I suggested.

A few minutes later when he caught up with us, and Shelley told him what she’d seen, he said, “Well, I’ll be darned. Come on. Let’s go home. It’s safe to cross now.”

At home, we found Mother watching television in the living room. When Shelley excitedly told her what had happened, Mother asked her, “Did you see what the truck looked like?”

“Yeah, it was a green truck,” Shelley answered. “and there were two guys in the cab.”

Turning to Dad, Mother said, “Well, you should call the police. With Shelley’s description, they might be able to find the chairs.”

“Yeah,” Shelley cried, jumping up and down and clapping her hands.

Clancy, who always got excited when anyone else did, voiced his approval while dancing in circles and wagging his tail.

After shushing the dog, Dad said, “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt.” He made his way to the phone in the hall.

That summer, I’d been reading an Ellery Queen murder mystery which featured some police brutality. Not having had much experience with law enforcement, I wasn’t sure it was such a good idea to call the police about stolen lawn chairs. At least we didn’t have a dead body on our hands.

But Shelley was so excited about the possibility of helping find the lawn chairs. I didn’t want her to be scared. So, I remained silent while Dad made the call.

A few minutes later, when Clancy’s barking announced the arrival of the local constabulary, Shelley and I were sitting on the couch together. She must have read my mind for she moved closer to me, giggling. “You nervous?” she asked.

I should have told her there was nothing to be nervous about. Remembering what I’d heard a thousand times on the television show, Dragnet, I should have advised her to give them just the facts.

Instead, I only laughed nervously as Dad opened the front door while Clancy continued to bark and wag his tail. Grabbing his collar, Dad said, “Let me just put him on the side porch.”

To my relief, instead of an entire crew of policemen who arrived after Ellery Queen reported a murder, there was only one detective. Instead of barking orders at people like Inspector Queen, he introduced himself and engaged us in small talk before asking about the crime.

Shelley was a trooper. She described that pick-up truck and the guys in the cab as best she could, saying, “I didn’t get the license plate number, though.”

“That’s all right,” the officer said, scribbling in his notebook. “That sounds like Ricky Rodriguez’s truck.”

Dad described the lawn chairs and said, “My New Yorker magazine was in one of them.”

“Okay,” the officer said, scribbling some more. “I’ll see what I can do. It was nice meeting you all.”

The next day, Mother received a phone call from the detective. He told her they’d found the chairs, along with other contraband, in the back of that green pick-up. Unfortunately, they needed to keep all found items for evidence, and we didn’t get the chairs back until October. But miracle of miracles, that New Yorker magazine was still folded up in one of those chairs.

***

Note: The above true story appears in the current issue of Magnets and Ladders, which can be read here. You’ll also find it on Beetley Pete’s blog here. I was inspired to write this piece last year while taking a memoir class from fellow author Glenda Beall, who blogs here.

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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Guest Post: Abbie Johnson Taylor #SocialMediaMonday #Reblogs #Inspiration

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.Thanks to Beetley Pete for publishing my piece, “The Case of the Missing Lawn Chairs,” on his site. I wrote this recently for a memoir writing class I was taking that was taught by fellow author Glenda Beall who blogs at: http://profilesandpedigrees.blogspot.com/ Enjoy!

beetleypete

I am delighted to have received a guest post from wriiter and blogger, Abbie Johnson Taylor.
She describes it as ‘Creative non-fiction’. I enjoyed it, and I am sure all of you will too.

THE CASE OF THE MISSING LAWN CHAIRS

by Abbie Johnson Taylor

“Somebody stole our lawn chairs!” Dad announced.

For many years during the summer months, my family attended weekly band concerts at Kendrick Park in Sheridan, Wyoming, on Tuesday evenings after dinner. We brought lawn chairs and listened to the community band playing old standards, marches, and popular songs. Afterward, we trekked to a nearby ice cream stand for dessert, leaving our lawn chairs stashed behind a tree out of the way, sure in the knowledge that they would still be there when we returned to claim them before walking home. But now, all we could do was gape at the empty spot where we expected…

View original post 898 more words

The Ice Cream Stand

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Thanks to blogger Mary Hiland for inspiring this. In her post, she shares memories of buying sweet treats from an ice cream truck as a kid.

When I was a kid, I wasn’t a fan of cones, Eskimo pies, or any other treats you could eat with your fingers. Instead, I preferred malts, sundaes, and other treats that could be eaten with a straw or spoon. The stand at Kendrick Park here in Sheridan, Wyoming, had plenty of those. When I was in high school and college, our house was only a block away from the park. My younger brother and I often walked over and swam in the pool, then bought ice cream. Behind the stand was a playground, and when I was younger, I often enjoyed myself there, even after Mother accidentally caused me to fall off a swing.

On Tuesday nights when there were concerts in the park, Dad and I often took our Irish setter, Clancy, over. After the concert, we made our way to the ice cream stand. While I had my usual chocolate malt, Dad got a vanilla cone and a spoon. He told Clancy to sit, and he fed him some of the ice cream from the cone. When the cone was empty, he gave that to the dog as well.

One summer, my ten-year-old cousin Shelley and her family were visiting us from Iowa. Dad, Shelley, Clancy and I walked to the park as usual on a Tuesday evening. We brought lawn chairs, and after the concert, Dad decided to stow them behind a tree while we made the quarter-mile trip to the ice cream stand. When we returned to that tree after enjoying our treats as usual, the chairs were gone.

Dad told Shelley and me to start walking home while he looked around to see if the chairs had been dumped somewhere else. They were old and not of much value. While we waited to cross a busy street, to our surprise, Shelley spotted the chairs in the back of a green pick-up truck that was driving by us.

So, when we got home, Dad called the police. When the detective arrived, Shelley gave him a description of the truck. The next day, the chairs were found. Unfortunately, the police needed to keep them for evidence, and we didn’t get them back until October. By that time, I was away at college, and attending band concerts and eating ice  cream were far from my mind.

What about you? Do you have any specific memories of buying and eating ice cream from a stand or truck? What was your favorite kind of ice cream? Did you prefer it in a cone, dish, or malt? Any way you like your ice cream, I hope you enjoy plenty of it this summer.

 

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My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

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