Since we have been rooting around recently for information on long-gone people, paintings, and community traditions, I want to bring up an event that has bugged me since the early 1980s. I have decided to share this with my six regular readers and the four part-time readers to see if any of them know who might have pulled off this stunt and left The Mister and me scratching our heads.
It is very timely because it involves Fourth of July fireworks. There were several years when the band sold fireworks to raise money for trips, uniforms, and other items not covered by the school budget. When the holiday was over, The Mister thought it a tad reckless to store the leftovers at the school where bold and daring students might figure out a way to pilfer them and cause mayhem all over town. So he brought them to our house and put them in the attic until the following year when a new fireworks stand was stocked.
This worked well until our insurance agent found out. He informed us that storing such dangerous contraband in one’s home would negate one’s homeowners insurance if the house caught on fire. He suggested we find another place, preferably a bunker licensed to store such items. Of course, there is one of those available every other block or so, right?
We solved the problem by storing them in the two-seater outhouse/chicken house in our backyard. (Keep in mind this is a very old house and some of the accompanying structures served in capacities no longer needed by our society.) The leftover firecrackers, smoke bombs, bottle rockets, and other pyrotechnics were locked into the outhouse portion of the building on July 5th every year. Life went on.
Eventually, the band quit selling fireworks and found other avenues of raising funds to help meets its needs. The boxed fireworks stayed locked up. However, someone somewhere KNEW what was stored in that creepy old outhouse.
Early one spring morning in the mid-1980s I was having coffee at Don’s Drugs when Jesse Seibel came hurrying in from his farm. Jesse loved knowing the latest scoop and dispensing the news with great speed and drama, but with little attention to truth or verification. He came to tell us all that “… someone was trying to blow up the Rock Island train tracks …” behind his house the previous night. As the details came out, it sounded more like an explosion of fireworks than vandals intending to destroy the Rock Island tracks.
As I sat listening to his breathless tale, I wondered where anyone might acquire fireworks in the middle of the night in early spring. I downed my coffee and hurried home. From the drive I sighed in relief — the padlock was still on the door of the outhouse. We weren’t responsible for the exploding fireworks on the Rock Island railroad line!
However, on a hunch, I walked to the outhouse and examined the latch. It easily pulled out of the door and the screws fell to the ground. Yes, the padlock was still engaged, but the latch was compromised and when I opened the door to the outhouse, the boxes of fireworks were gone. Sheesh.
So, now that the community has searched for the truth about the Memorial Day dinner, the forgotten painting at the library, and other such stories of Peabody, I’d like some help with this mystery. I want you to give up the name or names.
I know it is just killing you that you have kept it a secret … so, you don’t have to any longer! You don’t have to sign your name or anything, just drop me a line or an anonymous e-mail or phone call. I know I fuss about people who do that, but this is just a smidge different.
Confession is good for the soul and my six regular readers and that part-time bunch of four are really pumped to hear from you. Me too!
— SUSAN MARSHALL