A broken strand of beads


    Uncle Jim, me and Daddy (making me laugh!)

Daddy and his brother were “latch-key kids” long before they were called that.  Both of their parents worked, so after school they pretty much did what they wanted.

One of the boys’ favorite things to do was to sneak a ride on the back of a trolley car, and then jump off before they got caught.

But the police in the area got wise to them.  And one of the times they pulled that trick, they were caught and taken to the police station and put in a cell!  This was in the early 1920’s when, apparently, the police felt perfectly comfortable putting two kids in a cell for a few hours without even bothering to notify their parents, in hopes of putting a little scare in them.

So while the boys were cooling their heels in a jail cell and I’m sure were supposed to be contemplating the error of their ways, they happened to notice some pink beads on the floor of the cell.  They thought they were really pretty so they picked them up and put them in their pockets to give to their mother!  They were sure she would like them.

After the boys had been in the cell for a little while the police figured they had been taught their lesson, so they let them go.  But of course with a stern warning about what would happen if they jumped the trolley again!

Later, when their mother got home, the boys showed her the beads they had found (of course, not mentioning where they were found), and she agreed that they were pretty and thanked them for bringing them home to her.

So the boys went off to their room feeling pretty good about not only making points with Mom for bringing her the beads (and they adored their mom, so liked to make her happy), but also that even though they had had a “close encounter” with the police and spent some time in a jail cell, Mom and Dad would never know about! 

Meanwhile, their mom had sat down at the kitchen table and was laying out the beads in a line to start re-stringing them, but she quickly realized the beads weren’t all the same size — they were graduated — meant to go from smaller at the clasp to the largest in the middle.  Unfortunately, that meant that it was very obvious there were some missing and that would keep the necklace from looking good.

So she called to the boys to come back down to the kitchen, showed them the problem, and asked them to go back wherever they found the beads to see if they could find the rest!

Busted!  They stammered around enough that Mom realized there was something they didn’t want to tell her and it didn’t take her long to get it out of them that they couldn’t go back to look for the rest of the beads — because they found them in a jail cell!  So, they ended up being in more trouble at home than they had been with the police — just because of some pretty beads they thought their mom would like.

Daddy and Uncle Jim grew up to be upstanding citizens.  And the only reason I know this and other stories about Daddy’s childhood is that for the last few years of his life he spent alot of time in the hospital, and I spent alot of time sitting there with him, just keeping him company.  That’s when he sometimes passed the time telling me stories about his childhood that I had never heard before.  And, oh how he enjoyed re-living those long ago days when he and his brother were young and healthy and a little bit wild.

8 Responses to A broken strand of beads

  1. Hilary says:

    That’s a terrific photo of you, your dad and your uncle. And the story made me smile. Such a different time..

  2. Sandra says:

    Thank you, Hilary. I can’t tell you how it touches my heart when you enjoy one of Mama’s old pictures with me. And I’ve always loved this story that Daddy told me so it’s fun to share it too. You are sooo right — verrrry different times!

  3. Tim King says:

    Hi, Sandra. You were a cute kid. 🙂

    That’s an entertaining story. I’ve been really enjoying the stories you post here, for a while (longer than I’ve been commenting, at least). Thanks for posting.


  4. Sandra says:

    Thanks, Tim. Lurkers are great, but commenters are the BEST! 🙂

  5. C. Beth says:

    That’s a great story! I like that they weren’t delinquents, just…mischievous. 🙂

    • Sandra says:

      Beth — Those were such different times. I suppose they might have qualified as “delinquents” in their time, but there was nothing mean or any intent to harm anyone else or themselves! Just harmless pranks. 🙂

  6. Mrs4444 says:

    What a great story, and the pic is priceless! Your dad…what a character.

  7. Sandra says:

    Mrs4444 — Yes, when I look back I realize he was funny. Not sure I realized it at the time!

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