As a kid, it was always fun when the doorbell rang, when it was the truck that came down our long gravel driveway outside of York, Pennsylvania, to sell groceries. In later years, the Bond Breadman (beside bread, he also sold cookies and donuts), or Mrs. Viera (an elderly widowed who lived across the street or a Swarthmore College student arriving for a midday Sunday dinner. Heck, my mother used to relish having the Fuller Brushman at the door to sell his latest and greatest cleaning gismo. I even remember the sturdy, cigar-chomping life insurance man’s monthly visits to collect the premium for that month (he certainly wasn’t that exciting – he received money but my parents didn’t seem to get anything in return. I know why now and am delighted).
Fast forward to October, 1973, a few months after Barb and I bought our first house. We had a visitor way more distasteful than the cigar-chomper mentioned above. It was a cool evening and we had our two young nieces for a sleepover. We returned to the house at about 8:30 PM after a ninety minute excursion. Shortly after we entered the house, I went upstairs to our bedroom, at which time I saw all the drawers pulled out of Barb’s jewlery box. I ran downstairs and asked Barb if there was a reason why she pulled the drawers out and of course she said no. It was obvious to us we had a “visitor” who was not welcome. We checked the back door and found we were invaded by someone who used a crowbar to get in the back door.
Not knowing if the burglar was still in the house, I sent Barb with our nieces next door to call the police and to stay there to keep safe. I figured if there was someone still in the house, the culprit would exit the same way he/she entered. Therefore, I staked out that door. As I stood there in the dark, I realized if anyone exited the house, I did not have a weapon. Now, I must tell you, even though I served in the Army, I am a better lover than a fighter. I found myself standing by our woodpile so I picked up the meanest looking log and stood ready to charge the person because I was going to protect my property. Just then I saw one of our neighbors (about my age) backing his car out of his driveway. I ran over to him, told him the saga and asked for his help. The plan was he would be stationed by the front door and I would return to my observation post ( Army speak) at the backdoor. All of a sudden I felt relieved standing there like a fool with a log as my defense because my neighbor came running back to me to pick up a log for himself. Then, we waited and waited AND WAITED! No one came out of the house. No police! Twenty minutes passed and still No police!! I’m thinking what is the Township doing with my tax money?
Then the explanation. Barb came across the front lawn and I run out to ask her where the police were. She says: “Police? Didn’t you call them?” Sometimes it’s hard to keep one’s temper in check.
Now, I am tempted to laugh at the burglar(s). We had just moved from a one bedroom apartment into our house and had next to nothing. We lost some of Barb’s jewlery and a gold watch that my parents had given me for graduation from high school, which we replaced and I am still wearing. We were the newest and youngest on our block. There were certainly bigger and better houses around us. Most of our neighbors were old enough to be our parents and anyone breaking in would have a much bigger haul than this Hall.
Even though it’s still fun to have the doorbell ring, MOST are welcome, but not all.
P.S. It seems like the first months of new home ownership are the most dangerous (at least to us) becaue when we moved to West Chester in 1998, we were broken into before we learned how to use the security system!
Jeff Hall, Honey Brook, contributes columns to Berks-Mont Newspapers.