The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane - Part 4

The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane - Part 4
By Barbara Lynn Terry

Chapter 6

Sunday morning dawned early for the residents of Ginger Lane. It was time to get up, take a shower, have breakfast and man their stations. Jay Simons was already dressed and at the soft drink tent, setting everything up. She counted the money she would need for change, and made sure the stock was ready. Jimmy Shepard, having had his breakfast, went to join Jay at the soft drink tent.

The rides were being tested to make sure they operated safely. John Shepard was helping Mark Schwimmer at the hot dog and brat grill. Eileen Shepard was helping at the potpourri stand, with Ruth McGuire. They sold everything of practical use, curios, and things that had been for practical use, but, were now collector’s items. Everyone who lived on Ginger Lane was doing their bit to belp this block party be a success.

Anthony (Tony) Palmetti and Greg Olsen of the Pine Forest police department was again manning the barricade. Officer Steven Hastings was arriving with the other officers who were positioning themselves at different places along Ginger Lane. This way, each officer would not be out of dight of the others. This was in case any real trouble broke out.

Most of the trouble at the block party, would be someone that would have one too many, and an officer would take that person home. If this would happen in the big city, the person would be arrested, fingerprinted and placed in a cell to await seeing the judge in the morning. The Pine Forest city jail was reserved for real crimes, and just being intoxicated was not, in the city of Pine Forest, a real crime. The only exception was David Adams, and he was and outsider.

The Addison county Superior Court judge was Harold W. Benedict. He was a no nonsense type of judge. If you were convicted in his court of a major felony, he would give you the time as prescribed by the statute. In other words, if the crime you were convicted of carried a maximum sentence of ten years, judge Benedict gave you ten years.

But, Judge Harold W. Benedict was more than just a judge. He was a neighbor and a friend. To the people of Pine Forest, when judge Benedict was not hearing cases, he was simply known as Harold. Like the Pine Forest police officers, Harold was a man the townspeople could trust and go fishing with. In small town America, informality was a way of life.

On this Sunday, judge Benedict was attending the block party with his family. They were having so much fun. He had a thirteen year old daughter, Sandra (Sandy) Benedict, and one son who is going on twelve, Douglas (Doug) Benedict. These two knew Francine, Darlene and Tanya McGuire. Sandy spent many a night at the McGuire house for a sleepover. Sometimes, as most sleepovers are want, they would last all weekend.

Sandy and Doug were also friends with Jay Simons, and gave her respect for who she is. As the Benedict children roamed the block party, they came upon the soft drink tent. Sandy bought two Black Bear black cherry sodas. They sat in the tent, talking to Jay and Jimmy. Jimmy was the first to speak, after learning that Sandy and Doug’s father was a judge.

“Your father is a judge?” That was a question, more than it was a statement. “Where is your dad, now?”

“Oh, he is around the block party … somewhere,” Sandy Benedict said in a casual, dismissive tone.

“Aren’t you afriad someone will hurt him, or even you?”

“Not in Pine Forest, we’re not. If this were Detroit, Battle Creek, Cincinnati, or any of the other bigger cities, well, then yes, we might be afraid. But, this is Pine Forest, and here we have a saying that goes like this: ‘It takes a village’. Here, everybody looks after everybody else. This is to make sure that we are safe, no matter where in town we are.”

“So that is why my dad wanted to live in a small town. People were more neighborhood friendly.”

“Jimmy,” Sandy Benedict was saying. “If my dad needed help with something that took more than one person, there would be a lot of people here that would help and not ask for anything in return. That is part of what ‘it takes a village’ means.”

Just then, Harold came in to the soft drink tent.

“There you two are. What is your name, young man?”

“Jimmy Shepard, sir.”

“Well, welcome to Pine Forest. I’m Sandy and Doug’s father. Your family must be the ones that bought the widow Harkins cottage.”

“Yes, sir. My dad bought it Friday.”

“You know, young man, that this festival we call a block party, is in the widow Harkins honor. It is to get money for a deserving high school student to go to college, either on a sports or academic scholarship.”

“That is what Jay was telling me. Jay’s dad told us, too. Sir, are you a court judge?”

“Only when I’m working. All the other times, I am a friend.”

“Where I’m from, judges are indifferent people and don’t live in the same place as regular people live. They live in the suburbs, or out in the country, but, never where, say, most people are.”

“That is in the big city, though. Here, we are a town of sixty five thousand people, and we are very informal here. Does anybody in your family know how to square dance?”

“Yes, sir, we all do.”

“Great. Next week Saturday, we are having a square dance at the town’s community center. That is right across the street from the courthouse. There is a separate section in the community center for the children. This way, the children can have their own square dance without being in the way of the adults. This is another thing, too, the widow Harkins did. A place for the children, and a separate place for the adults, during the square dance. The widow Harkins knew how to square dance very good, too. We have a lot of fun here in Pine Forest, because we know how to get along with one another. We have picnics during the summer, live bands that play different kinds of music, from rock ‘n’ roll to country. This is a very pleasant place to live.”

“Now I know we moved to the right town,” John Shepard said, coming in to the soft drink tent. He extended his hand to the judge. “Hi, my name is John Shepard. We bought the cottage that was owned by the late Mrs. Harkins, or so I’m told.”

“Hi, Mr. Shepard. I’m Harold W. Benedict, Superior court judge here in Addison county. Most people here just call me Harold when I am not sitting on the bench hearing cases.”

“Nice to meet you Harold, and you can just call me John. I see you’ve met my son Jimmy. My daughter Kathy is around somewhere. My wife Eileen is helping Ruth McGuire at the potpourri stand. Tomorrow the movers will back the truck in and start unloading our furniture. The beds were brought down the lane by hand, just so we could sleep on something other than the floor.

“I deal in hardware. I own several hardware stores, and a hardware delivery service. I haven’t been introduced to the owner of the hardware store here, yet. I was thinking that maybe we could be partners, or he could at least order from me, and I could help him with his advertising. A good business can go under without the right kind of advertising.”

“I’m sure it can. The hardware store owner’s name is Bob Thicke. He claims he is no relation to the actor Alan Thicke.” Both men laughed. “You will find that Pine Forest is a town of people, not just separate strangers living in the same area. We actually know our neighbors, and we know where they work, their phone numbers and the names of their children. By the way, have you registered your children for school, yet?”

“No, we just bought the cottage on Friday, then the block party happened. I thought that maybe tomorrow, we could go as a family, and look around the town where the school is at.”

“That is a good idea, John,” the judge answered. “It is the town of Pine Grove, and there is only one elementary school there. It goes from kindergarten to the fifth grade. The sixth grade is in the middle school. Then there is the Thomas Addison Memorial High School.

“Thomas Addison was one of the founders of Pine Forest. I’m sure you noticed all the pine trees when you were coming in to town. Well, because this was all pine forest when he and twenty six others came here, they just called the town Pine Forest.”

“There sure is a legacy to this town. No wonder people take great pride in their community.”

“That is why, John,” The judge answered in return. “That this is a wonderful community and we can actually hear ourselves think. Let’s go over to the beer tent and I’ll buy you a cold one.”

“I don’t drink alcohol, Harold. I may have a Sprite, 7up, Sierra Mist, or some other soda to make it look like I have a drink. But, I don’t drink alcohol.”

“Well, good for you, John. It is good to see someone who is a non-drinker. Do you smoke, John?”

“No, Harold, I don’t smoke either, and neither does my wife.”

“I think I am going to like my new neighbors. Well, John, if you don’t drink alcohol, let me buy you a cold soda. Name your poison.”

“Thank you, Harold, I’ll have a Black Bear black cherry, Jay.”

“Make that two, Jay.” The judge paid for the drinks, and they sat down in one of the chairs. “The Black Bear Bottling Group* is located in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. They have been there for decades. This black cherry soda kind of tastes like a black cherry Coke.”

“Well, let’s agree to disagree, Harold. I like Black Bear sodas, because they are better than Coca Cola** or Pepsi Cola.*** They have a different taste altogether.”

“I never thought of it that way. Even the regular Black Bear cola has a different taste than, either Pepsi or Coke.”

“Black Bear has been in business since 1921. That’s a lot of years.”

“Harold, do you like to play golf?”

“Yes, John, I do. Golf is one of those games where you can relax, even while you are playing.”

“Where is there a golf course around here, Harold?”

“It is about a mile outside the east end of town. It is called the Addison County Country Club. Membership is only three hundred dollars to join. It also is a public country club, which means that for the low membership fee, anybody is able to join.”

“Well, when you’re not hearing cases, let’s go and play eighteen or so holes.”

“The only day I play golf, John, is on Sunday. Like I said, golf is a relaxing sport, and Sunday is a day of relaxation.”

“Then some Sunday, we will have to go. What about children’s memberships.”

They are automatically a member, if you join. They have a children’s golf camp, where they learn more than just the basics of the game.”

“My children know how to play golf and tennis. Kathy also knows how to play volleyball and badminton. During competition with other schools, Jimmy and Kathy have been really good. Does the elementary school have competitions like that?”

“Yes, John, they do. The towns around here chip in for these competitions, because the state legislature cut all funding for any kind of physical education and competitions. So, we take it out of the city treasury so the children can compete. John, competition allows the children to exhibit good sportsmanship and how to get along with other teams. Physical education is not mandatory any more, but for those that want to participate, they can.”

“Children, I am going to go back and help out at the hot dog and brat grill. Want to come along, Harold?”

“Sure, maybe I can put the little dogs in the buns.”


John Shepard gave Jimmy a hug and told him that he loved him.

“I love you, too, dad.”

John Shepard and Harold W. Benedict, who only wanted to be called “your honor’ while hearing cases in his courtroom. As the walked toward the grill, they met Steve Hastings.

“Hello, Harold. How do like the carnival?”

“I love it. Sandy and Doug are around here somewhere. Probably over by the rides.”

“Well, except for Jimmy, Kathy and the McGuire children are over there, too. The carnival is their favorite part of any block party. By the time the block closes down, until the next time, all the children are going to be so tuckered out.”

“That is so true. My Sandy and Doug are no exceptions.”

They arrived at the hot dog ans brat grill, and Mark Schwimmer greeted Harold as they walked up.

“Mark, Harold said he wants to help.”

“Well, John, he has to wash his hands, and then he has to put on a pair of those plastic gloves. Then he can put the dogs and the brats in the buns.”

“May hands are already washed, so I will put on a pair of these gloves, then we will be set to go.”

“I sold eight brats and seven dogs while you were taking a break, John. Business is good today. Look at the thermometer and how it keeps climbing. But, we’re only half way there.”

“I’ll have one brat, please,” said the man with a gruff voice. “Where can I get a beer?”

“Over at the beer tent. That’s the big tent to your right.”

“Thank you.”

The man was detective Robert Belford of the Detroit police department. He was a good six feet, four inches tall, and he carried himself in regal manner. A man who was very sure about every step he took. He had a rugged looking face and a head of thick red hair. In fact, it was so red, you would think it was on fire.

As detective Belford walked toward the beer tent, he met one of Pine Forest police officers. Detective Belford said something to the officer, and the officer said something in to his hand held radio. Steve Hastings met the man at the tent entrance. They shook hands, and Steve waited outside of the tent, while the detective went to get his beer. The detective was back in shirt order.

As the two neared the brat grill, John Shepard heard Steve, say, as he was talking to the detective.

“Hi, John, this is police detective sergeant, Robert Belford, of the Detroit police department. He is here to take Jonah Carruthers and David Adams off of our hands. Since Detroit’s warrants are more serious than ours, we are going to turn the two criminals over to detective Belford. So, I am going to go over to the jail with the detective, and turn Jonah and David over. I told detective Belford to feel free to enjoy the block party, but he said he needs to get those two back to Detroit quickly. I will be back as soon as I can.” Steve and the detective left.

“It looks like Detroit doesn’t waste any time. Jonah Carruthers and David Adams were just arrested yesterday,” John Shepard said, to everyone at and around the grill.

“Excuse me, folks, but if this is going to get into a case or cases I might have to hear, I can’t stay around here,” Judge Harold W. Benedict stated.

“Have a good day, Harold,” Mark Schwimmer said, as the judge was leaving. “There goes a man who actually believes that his job is to administer the law. When he first told us to call him Harold instead of judge, or your honor when he wasn’t in court, most of us were astonished that a man such he is, would allow us to call him by his first name. Since then, he has become not only a neighbor, but a friend, to boot.”

“Where I come from,” John Shepard said, in answer to Mark’s statement. “A judge doesn’t associate with the common people unless he is making an appearance at a social function. Judges in the big city actually have a different parking place than the rest of the people.”

“That is very sad, because a judge who makes himself known, and shows that he or she is a human being, maybe there would be more respect for the law. People who break the law, don’t stop to think that maybe the person or persons they committed the crime against has a family who love them.”

“I don’t know about here, but in the big city, especially Saginaw, the banks and convenience stores, as well as some other businesses, have cameras that monitor the goings on in that business. But, yet, there are still those who rob banks, convenience stores and the like. How they think they can get away with it, is beyond me.”

“Well, John, there are cameras in our bank, but they are hidden. Everybody in town knows about them, but they never tell an outsider, just in case that outsider wants to commit a robbery. The last bank robbery we had was ten years ago, when a man from Kansas City, Missouri came in town and proceeded to rob the bank. The state police caught him five miles out of town.”

“That was a quick arrest, Mark.”

“Yes, John, but, the only reason he was caught is because they stopped the man because he was speeding. When they searched his car, they found the bank’s money. He was promptly arrested for bank robbery.”

“Do the state police officers come to the block party?”

“Yes, they do, that is, the ones that know about it. I’m surprised I don’t see any of them here.”

“Well, maybe next time. Here comes my daughter with her entourage.**** Hello, Kathy, I see you have come for a hot dog.”

“No, dad, we came to get more money for more rides.”

“Just like a woman, always wants money.” John Shepard laughed. “How much do you need, kitten?”

“Enough for all of us to go on maybe three rides, or four, maybe six.” John Reached in to his pocket and too out his wallet.

“Here, punkin, take this and buy tickets for all of you to go on the rides you like, and maybe play a few games.”

“Thanks, dad,” Kathy Shepard said, giving her dad a kiss and a hug.

After the children left, John Shepard remarked to Mark Schwimmer.

“You know, Mark, as much as they may get on our nerves, we still love them.”

“Yes, John, we certainly do. I mean, after all, they are our future.”

“Yes, they certainly are.”

Steve Hastings returned to the block party. He was talking to Tony Palmetti and Greg Olsen at the barricade.

“Well, I turned over Jonah Carruthers and David Adams to the Detroit police. Detective sergeant Robert Belford took custody of the two.”

“Did you tell them what Jonah’s son did?”

“Yes, Greg, and he said he wasn’t interested in David Carruthers, just Jonah. So, David is still in the jail waiting to be seen by the judge in the morning. Won’t he be surprised to find daddy isn’t here any more.”

“I thought the judge was going to hold a hearing today, to see if David should be bound over as an adult.”

“Well, Tony, I guess she changed her mind. After all, it is Sunday.”

“Yes, Steve, I guess it is,” pondered Tony Palmetti.

“Well, I am going take a walk around, and see what’s been happening.

Steve left the barricade and stopped at the beer tent to find out from the officer there, how things have been. He told Steve that except for the Detroit detective wanting to know where he was, everything was quiet. The officer’s name is Donald (Donny) McGuire, Ruth McGuire’s brother. He has been a Pine Forest police officer for the last nine years.

Steve went over by the hot dog and brat grill to find how business was doing.

“We’re doing great, Steve. We collected over one thousand dollars toward the scholarship.”

“Thank you, Mark, that is a good amount. It looks like the block party will make the quota, as it has in the past. Two years can make a difference in a young person’s life, especially if he or she knows that he or she is going to go college. Of course, the scholarship isn’t for any particular school, unless that is the school the student wants to attend.We have had two scholarships that have sent two deserving students to college. One of them is going to go law school and the other in business management. The widow Harkins loved the students here. She said it was a shame that a deserving student couldn’t go to college because they didn’t have the necessary funds. She said in her will that the city of Pine Forest and the county of Addison, should hold social functions to get enough money to send a deserving student to college.

“We have had this block party almost every Saturday and Sunday. When we do have the block party, it starts on Saturday and ends at ten o’clock Sunday night.

“I didn’t know the widow Harkins, but she sounds like a very exceptional lady.”

“She was, John, she was.”

Knowing how the people of Pine Forest thought of the widow Mae Harkins, who previously owned the cottage he bought, he was going to make sure that he did nothing to damage the cottage. The room he wants to add on, is a room the widow Harkins would approve of. This addition to the cottage was to be John’s office where he would keep his compmay’s files.

Business at the hot dog and brat grill was good. People kept coming back for more. They bought mostly brats, though, and then went in the beer tent for a beer. A twelve ounce cup of beer cost three dollars. People paid the price because they knew it was for a very good charitable cause.

It was getting on about lunch time, and the people were going to the grills. Steve looked over and saw a long line forming at the chicken and roasted corn grill. The third grill was in case anybody wanted a hamburger, or a rib eye steak. At the hamburger and steak grill, they also had baked potatoes, wrapped in foil and placed inside the grill. When the potatoes were done, they were placed on a warmer until someone bought one.

But, all the grills and tents were getting long lines. There were benches along Ginger Lane for people to sit and enjoy their lunch. It looked as though the block party would make the necessary quota for the scholarship. Kathy, Francine, Darlene and Tanya saw the long line forming at the soft drink tent. They went over to help Jay and Jimmy. As they went in the tent, Francine announced themselves.

“We’re here to help, Jay. We will hand you whatever soda the people want to drink. It seems all the excitement actually happened before lunch time.”

“I know, right! That rough looking guy we saw was a detective from Detroit. He came and took that Jonah Carruthers and David Adams back to Detroit with him.”

“Who told you that, Kathy?” Darlene asked.

“My dad. He said officer Hastings told him. It seems that the detective bought a bratwurst at the grill my dad was helping Mr. Schwimmer at. I guess it showed on dad’s face, so officer Hastings told my dad who the guy was.”

“At least he wasn’t a troublemaker. We have had enough of them around here to last til the end of time; if there is such a thing.”

“Tanya,” Francine said to answer her little sister’s pondering. “Time is what they call infinite. That means there is no end. So, time would be endless.”

“How do know that?” Queried Darlene.

“I looked up the word, after I heard two teachers talking at school, once. I don’t quite know what they were talking about, but, when I heard the word infinite, I just had to look it up.”

While they were talking, they were filling orders for soda or bottled water. Jay, or even Jimmy, would tell the girls what they needed, and the girls would get it out of the cooler. This way, too, the business went smoothly, and the customer was happy. Not that the people buying the soft drinks would have been happy, anyway, had it only been Jay and Jimmy.

With the girls helping, Jimmy asked Kathy if they could watch the tent for a while, so that he and Jay could go on a few rides, and play a few games. Kathy assured Jimmy that they could. Jay and Jimmy then went to the midway and went on the roller coaster. They had a lot of fun.

After the roller coaster, they went to play a feew games. They came on the one where you have to knock down three milk bottles to get a prize. Jay took the soft ball and threw it at the milk bottles, knocking three of them down. Jay won a teddy bear, and he was happy. Jimmy took the soft ball and knocked down all nine milk bottles with one throw. The man running the game just stood there with his mouth wide open. Jimmy was allowed to pick anything he wanted from the top shelf.

Next, Jay wanted to throw the rings at the bottles, so he could win a goldfish. Jimmy told him that goldfish don’t live that long, and he told Jay what he should do, is play the dart game. It is the game where you throw three darts at air filled balloons. If you break three of them, you win a prize.

Jay told Jimmy that he has never played that game before. Jimmy told him it was easy. Jimmy put two tickets down, and the man gave him three darts. Jimmy shot the darts at the balloons breaking three of them.

“See, Jay, it’s easy. All you do, is shoot the darts at the baloons. Sir, she has never played this game before. May she have a free try?”

“Of course, young , man.” The man handed Jay one dart.

Jay threw the dart breaking one balloon. Jimmy gave the man two more tickets and the man gave Jay two more darts. After throwing the darts, Jay broke two more balloons, and Jay won a prize.

“See, Jay, I told you it was easy. Next time we have the block party and the carnival is here, I want you to throw the first three darts. You did really good for not having played that game before now.”

At one o’clock in the afternoon, Jay was getting very chilled.

“Jimmy, may we stop at my house? I want to get my sweater. I’m getting a little chilled.”

“Of course, Jay.”

Jay and Jimmy went to Jay’s house to get Jay’s sweater.

“Want to see my room?” Asked Jay.

“No, Jay. A boy never goes in to a girl’s room.”

“Alright, I will be right back.” Jay went to get her sweater. When she came back, she was wearing jeans with the leg ends rolled up above the ankles, and a white turtleneck sweater. “Ready, Jimmy?”

“Yes, Jay, I’m ready.”

They both went back to the soft drink tent. They found the girls engrossed in serving customers.

“We’re back, sis,” Jimmy said, announcing him and Jay.

“Great! Now, we can take a break. It has been very busy sine you two left.”

“That’s all right, sis, you girls go ahead. Jay and I can take over.”

The girls left the tent, and Kathy went directly to the ticket booth. She bought the tickets they would need for the rides and games. Jimmy didn’t have time to tell the girls that Jay knocked down the three milk bottles with one soft ball. He would do that later.

With the sun high in the sky, everybody was thirsty for something to quench their thirst. Jay and Jimmy sold more bottled water, than they did soda. For about two hours, that is what everybody wanted. For the middle of September, it was unseasonably warm.

Eileen Shepard came in the tent for two bottles of water. One was for her and the other was for Ruth McGuire. Because it was very warm, Ruth put up a outside cafe umbrella, to keep the sun off of her and Eileen. Eileen came back with the bottled water, and Ruth actually guzzled the first drink.

“You know, Eileen, the next time we have this block party, we should bring a cooler with some dry ice in it, so that we can keep our drinks cold, while we’re working.”

“I will agree with that Ruth. You bring your cooler the first time, and I will buy the dry ice. Then the next time, I will bring my cooler and you get the dry ice.”

“Sounds like a plan to me.”

The two ladies were getting along fabulously. Their girls were getting along so good, they were always together. A lady stopped by the stand, and was looking at the items for sale. She saw a hand made shopping bag. She inspected the stitching, only to find that is was double stitched.

“How much for the bag?” The lady inquired.

“For the things on the stand here, it is make an offer,” Ruth told the lady.

“Well, the stitching is very good. The material feels like denim. I will give you four dollars.”

“Thank you, ma’am. The money goes for a very charitable cause,” Eileen told the lady.

“Which charity?”

“It is the Mrs. Mae Harkins Memorial Scholarship Fund. The money is placed in the bank, and is used to send a deserving high school student to college, either on a sports or academic scholarship. That is why on this stand, it is make an offer. Your offer of four dollars for that bag is very generous. Thank you.”

“But, does this carnival make that much?”

“What we don’t make, the city of Pine Forest puts in the rest. But, we will have more block parties before the end of school in May. We have a little time, yet,” Ruth told the lady.

“What is your name?”

“I am Ruth McGuire and this is Eileen Shepard. We both live here on the lane with our families.”

“So, who was Mae Harkins?” The lady inquired.

“The widow Harkins was a very well respected lady in Pine Forest. She always had a kind word for everyone, even those that have been in trouble with the law. She could square dance with the best of us. It was her idea to have a separate section of the community hall for the children so they could have their own square dance. She also baby sat for everybody in town. The children loved her and she loved the children. Every Sunday afternoon, she would sit in the library and read to the children. She was a very special lady.”

“Well, thank you, and here is ten dollars more, for the fund.”

“Than … thank you, ma’am. What is your name?”

“I am Jennifer Wilkins from Pine Woods. I heard about your carnival and I just had to come and see for myself. Thank you for the bag, it will come in handy.”

“Well, thank you for your donation. Feel free to enjoy the rest of fair. We just call it a block party,” Eileen told Jennifer.

Jennifer then left in the direction of the rides and games. Just who is Jennifer Wilkins, and why was she so interested in the Pine Forest block party?

*Black Bear Bottling Group LLC is located at 2025 W. South Branch Blvd., Oak Creek, Wisconsin 53154 - 414-302-5660

**The Coca Cola Company is located at P.O.Box 1734, Atlanta, Georgia 30301 - 1-800-438-2653.

***PepsiCo is located at 700 Anderson Hill Rd., Purchase, NY 10577 - 914-253-2000

****For the letter “e” when it requires an accent mark, there isn’t one, because I forgot the numbers to get the “e” with the accent mark above it.

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