“What? You’re who?”
It was almost noon on a Friday in late spring and it sounded like the voice on the other end of the phone was saying she was a deputy in the County Sheriff’s office. I couldn’t get the rest of it because the phone signal was breaking up. After explaining this, she said she would call in a few minutes from a land line telephone… or that is what I thought she said.
After about five minutes the phone rang again and this time the caller was as clear as a bell. Deputy Agnes Keeler was asking me to please come immediately to the Meckler estate as my eighty-six year old grandfather was about to be charged with felony/burglary and arrested.
I told Deputy Keeler I would be there in about thirty minutes, the time it would take me to drive the twenty-five miles to the estate.
My grandfather, a man who looked around for the rightful owner of a quarter if he found it on the sidewalk; my grandfather who got my great grandparents’ permission to enlist in the Navy to fight in World War II at seventeen. This icon of hard work, honesty and patriotism had elected at the age of eighty-six to enter into a life of crime… and start off with felony/burglary… I don’t think so!
School was closed for a teacher’s meeting so my eleven year old daughter, Jackie, was home and in her room. I yelled to her to put on whatever clothing she had not yet gotten into and meet me in the car; we had an emergency.
My ever happy only daughter came running from the house tucking her arms in her jacket followed closely by her eleventh birthday present, Benny, a magnificent nine month old Black Labrador puppy.
“No, Jackie, Benny can’t come, this is very serious business we are going to take care of, put Benny….” Where, where would she put Benny? God only knew how long we would be gone. We couldn’t leave him in the house. He was house broken, but even the best trained dog has a breaking point and we may be away long enough for Benny to reach his ‘breaking point’.
I made an executive decision, “Jackie, you have his leash?”
“Yes Mom, I have his leash and collar.”
“Then get in the back with him, put on his collar and leash and the two of you stay out of the way when we get to the Meckler estate.”
“The estate where Grandpa works, Mom?”
“Yes, get in and I’ll explain on the way.”
I’m Ruth Wallace, the single mom of Jacqueline Wallace a very precocious eleven year old and I’m an attorney.
Jacqueline’s not so precocious father decided when she was three months old that he was not suited for domestic life and moved to Puerto Rico, never to be heard from again. Before he did, I used my hard earned legal abilities to formalize his departure from Jackie’s and my life. Thus both Jackie and I bear the surname ‘Wallace’, my maiden name.
My grandfather, the man about to be arrested, is Arthur Wallace, my paternal granddad.
Arthur returned from the Second World War and went to work as the assistant to a local gardener. He never looked back. He loved the work and loved the beauty he could design and construct using only the growing, living plant life created by God.
Thanks to grandpa’s talent, energy and gentle personality the gardener’s business thrived, attracting wealthy estate owners who had bought properties in our New England seacoast county for spring through fall getaways. Grandpa was loyal to the man who gave him a start, never even considering leaving and striking out on his own. The owner knew that Arthur was the talent and when he died some twenty-five years ago, he left the entire business to my grandfather.
Grandpa grew the business to cover the three surrounding counties and when he turned seventy-five, he turned it over to the three top gardeners who had been with the company since they graduated from high school. His explanation was “Life is all about passing it on”.
Periodically there would be special requests for grandpa to handle very complex projects. Those calling for his unique vision which used no man made materials or objects in his design, only those elements created by God. These paid well which was good because in passing the business on to the employees, Gramps had left himself with social security and some savings. After eleven years, these funds were now pretty slim.
This is why he was at the Meckler estate.
This is the background of the man that was being accused of and about to be arrested for a felony level crime.
This didn’t make any sense.
(To Be Continued)