Hanging Out at Birmingham's

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David
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Hanging Out at Birmingham's

Postby David » Wed July 23, 2014, 4:08 pm

One very hot (104 degrees) day in the summer of 1961 I was hanging out at Birmingham's with 3 friends. Their names will not be printed here to protect their pristine images their children have of them. I told all my stories to my kids. I guess we were bored but they wanted to walk all the way out to Boyd's Lake and it was 104 degrees. I always prided myself on not being talked into anything I did not want to do. I was having no part of walking to Boyd's Lake that hot afternoon. After some bantering back and forth "Go/ No, go/ no and on and on friend #1 asked friend #2 for the phone number for the police dispatcher (not thinking she would really give her their number). She was taken back when HPD answered the phone and she stammered around and said "there is a girl acting "strange" at Birmingham's". I guess they asked her who it was and she stammered around a bit more and said Jean Raby. Now we are the ONLY Raby family within 100 miles. She said "Rabey" like that would change something. OK so we are hanging out. I am convinced they will not show up. I saw them coming and my 3 friends took off running to the bathroom in the back of the drug store. I have now walked behind the shelves and I hear them asking for Jean Raby. I slipped out the front door and was quickly proceeding up Main Street and had made it to the front of Huguelet Jewelers. I am thinking I am doing good. Just as I had this thought, Larry Strong comes out of Atkinson's and yells across the street "Hey Raby". Kent Hicks had walked out to the front of the store and he had me, so I had to go back in Birmingham's and sit in the booth with them and tell them what was going on. They wanted to know who was in the back and I was happy to tell them. By this time, everyone who had been in Atkinsons was huddled around trying to find out what was going on. It reminded me of a school yard fight crowd. The police tell me to go back and tell them to come out. They are back in that little bathroom squalling their eyes out and trying to reach a little window that must have been 10' off the ground. They weren't having any part of coming out. I go out and tell them they aren't coming and one of the policemen said go tell Friend #1 that we know her Daddy and I think she will come out. I go back to the bathroom and they are into heavy duty crying by now and still trying to get out that 10' off the ground window. Mr. Holland had come over and wanted to have a little fun. When they came out Mr. Holland came over and asked what their bail was going to be. He was told it would be $100.00 each.....more squalling. Mr. Holland told them not to be too upset because he would pay it and they could work it off in the store. More squalling. I was not mad at them because I was feeling very vindicated by this whole scenario. They got a lecture about making prank calls to the Police (which is not how Friend #1 thought it would play out). About 3 weeks had gone by and I was feeling pretty smug because my mom had not heard about this (you know that is a Hamlet miracle). My Dad lived at the Fire Dept when he wasn't carpentering or railroading and knew Kent very well. When my sister, Gwen, came home from Richmond one weekend, we were sitting down to supper when Gwen says "Jean, what's this Janice Harris is telling me about the police having to come to Birmingham's after you?" I almost ate my fork. Mama announced that she would never be able to go to town again. She always worried too much about what people thought. Anyway, it all blew over, I didn't walk to Boyd's Lake in the heat and me and Friend #1 are still dear friends. I haven't seen the other 2 for 50 years.

By Jean Raby Nelson

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