As most of you know, I grew up in the lovely city of Austin, Texas. Actually, it was in an area to the west of the city called Westlake Hills. This is a "good" part of town. Great schools, "nice" families. Safe and low crime, right?
Wrong. During my childhood, our family home was broken into and robbed over and over. I'd say...5 or 6 times. Enough times that I lost count.
I'll never forget the feeling. Coming home with Mama and discovering that the front door had been jimmied open. Mama making me stand back by the car, while she walked through the place with the fireplace poker in her hand, just in case there was somebody hiding. That sick, violated feeling when we'd look at the spot where the tv had been, the stereo had been. Mama would call Daddy and then the Sheriff's Department. They'd come and fingerprint and look around, but as far as I know, they never caught anybody or recovered any of our belongings.
We'd walk around together making horrible discoveries of what was gone forever. Usually is was the normal, easy to sell stuff - tvs, electronics. Sometimes, it was more random. Once, they took my guitar, which Mama had bought for me by saving up Green Stamps for months. I never did learn more than 3 chords. Once, they took a precious clock that had belonged to Grandma. They'd take booze out of the liquor cabinet. Sometimes food. It was weird.
Luckily, Mama was powerfully good at hiding her jewelry. She had clever hidey-holes all over the house. Which is the only reason that I now own her good pearls, Grandma's cameo and Daddy's diamond and onyx cuff links.
Why did this happen to us over and over? The sheriff's explanation was that our house was back off the road, at the end of a long, heavily-wooded driveway. It was really easy for somebody to watch our movements and figure out when we'd be gone. Then they'd just drive a truck up the driveway, load it with our stuff, and drive away without anybody seeing them. But they agreed with us, that it was an uncanny number of robberies for one little family.
A few years ago, I was writing something about all my compulsive"do-gooding" and how I feel that I come by it naturally, as both of my parents were life-long volunteers and "do-gooders". Daddy was a recovered alcoholic, who spent a tremendous amount of time helping people get sober and stay that way. He was always getting calls in the middle of the night from a drunk on a bender, who he had to talk down. And he was always helping people out by giving them jobs around our house, just something to give them a leg up. Mama was a Catholic charities lady - working first at a soup kitchen, and then at a St. Vincent de Paul store for 25 years. And she also always had people over to do some work around the house. Everyone who ever mowed our lawn or trimmed the trees or whatever was a hard-luck story, some stray that Mama or Daddy had picked up.
And it suddenly hit me - Oh my God! Had we been robbed by some of these people? Did Mama and Daddy suspect this? Or were they just too naive and kind-hearted to see that we might have been taken advantage of? Did they suspect this and just stubbornly continue to give people the benefit of the doubt? I mean, certainly, most of these people were worthy of their trust. But were there a few rotten apples who repaid their kindness with desperation? Or am I, the big-city dweller, being paranoid?
I'll never know. And I guess it doesn't really matter. And I suspect that a lifelong desire to help people was more important to them than a few televisions.
But I really wish I still had that guitar.
It would be a crime if you didn't visit the other Crime and Punishment spinners!
(Okay, I'm completely horrified by that stupid joke, but I just couldn't help myself. Sorry.)
Nain at View From Down Here - she's a lawyer, y'all!
Next week on The Spin Cycle...
I love that word, don't you? Autumnal. I just said it out loud. Everything feels cooler just saying the word.
FINALLY! This dreadful heat has broken, and the Fall has reached Los Angeles. Not that we get much of a fall. But some leafs do turn reddish and fall off their trees. And everybody gets to pull out their jeans. And the new Beaujolais Nouveaus are released. So how about if everybody does a salute to Autumn - let us know what it's like in your corner of the world.
Are the woods awash with red and orange? Is there a nip in the air?
What says "Autumnal" to you? Pumpkin Lattes at Starbucks? Pulling out the old jean jacket? Boots? Roasted root vegetables? Apple cider?
How about some pictures?
Write your spin. Let me know. I'll link it here.
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