5/19/49 - A Squirrel in the Attic BY-WAYS - 5/19/49 - A Squirrel in the Attic
Greetings, friends!

How are you all this fine spring weather? Aren't the trees' new spring costumes beautiful? Never have I seen such a rich green as this year. I wish you might see our azalea bushes this year. They are a deep pink - or should I say a 'flaming rose'? At any rate they are gorgeous in their dark green setting against a white (or fairly white) front porch. On either side of the stone sidewalk leading to the street are lovely tulips of red and yellow and violet. The front yard is truly a picture at this writing. Daddy Virgil, who is a born "landscaper" is proud as Puck when neighbors and strangers stop to voice admiration. But now all that is just a good front. Let me tell you of the eerie, gruesome happenings on the inside. If you listen closely, you'll hear the skeletons rattling in our closets. It all started with mysterious noises up on third floor - in the dead of night. The next morning I found a clothesline in the furnace room, apparently cut, and the flue knocked off our water heater. Since we leave our outer side door unlocked for the meter readers and Dr. Phillips' laundryman, I began to wonder. This big house, with its mysterious locked room in the basement, dark recesses, many closets would make a very nice haunted house. In a telephone conversation with Dr. P's secretary, I mentioned the strange noises and the mild vandalism in the basement. She got quite excited and advised calling the police, especially since I was alone in the house. Maybe I just don't have sense enough to be afraid, but she went ahead and called the police. A handsome, young plain clothes detective came and studied the evidence. According to the 'evidence' in the recesses of the third floor, a squirrel had a secret nest under the floor. As to the 'cut' clothesline, a constantly moist pipe, around which the line was drawn, had rotted the line in a clean cut. A rusted guy wire had broken, to let the heater flue fall to the floor. In other words, the old house is about ready to fall apart. Dr. P. sent for an "exterminator," who charged $8.00 for putting under the eaves something deadly to all rodents - the same thing that I bought at a hardware store for 25c (when I saw a king-size R-A-T passing by our basement window). But the real excitement came a few days later when we learned that a poor, deranged woman was on her way here from Boston, and had wired Dr. Phillips to meet her at the airport. Not only that, but she had written and wired her sorority sisters in Cleveland not to trouble meeting her - that her "fiance" would meet her. You can imagine the highly embarrassing situation, if not downright dangerous. Last year, at a meeting of her chapter, she revealed the fact that she was carrying a pearl-handled pistol. She is said to be a woman of the finest culture, with true Bostonian poise and accent. She lived in Cleveland a number of years ago, and attended our church. It was during her stay here that she had to be placed in an institution, and was later transferred to one in Boston - near her people. At present she is considered harmless - at least by Boston police. The chief of police in Boston is related to a Cleveland sorority sister of this woman, and even at her request refused to interfere with the woman's pending flight here. In this situation I was really scared. Although Dr. P's incomparable secretary adroitly shielded him from the questioning woman, the latter could easily come to his home. And what would I do with her? Again Dr. P's good guardian angel called the Cleveland Heights police, and warned them of the precarious situation. Again the shielding arm of the law had to encircle our home, and the good captain entered - to get all details. This story has an anti-climax, for nothing happened - except a dignified telephone call to the church, warning Dr. P's secretary that it would not be wise for Dr. P. to be "unavailable," as his secretary had told the woman. So much for the Boston bypass.

Now this week the third scare. In placing an empty suitcase up on the third floor landing last Monday morning I heard the whir of wings, and saw a black bird that reminded me of Edgar Allen Poe's spin-tingling "The Raven." No windows were open. I pondered, and decided that discretion was the better part of valor; that I had better let Dr. P. handle that situation. I soon changed my mind when, a few minutes later, I heard the crash of priceless crystal or china. I called for Dr. Phillips post haste, and waited until his secretary could reach him. He sent word for me to call the police, but leave his name out of it. I hoped they would come, and send some stupefying fumes up there, so we could catch the poor creature before it broke all the glass and china. But they were powerless (so it seemed) and passed the buck to the Animal Protective League. The A.P.A. didn't even answer the phone. Then I tried the Fire Department (which, like the police, is only three blocks away). The sympathetic captain said that if they sent their "rescue squad," maybe in the meantime a real emergency might arise. He advised me to sneak up there and open a window. With the courage of desperation I went up in my stocking feet, and there was a big, terrified, frustrated starling beating against the window in Dr. P's study. Thank goodness, no china or glass near that window. So I closed the door, and then caught the poor thing in the folds of the heavy curtain. Its little heart was beating wildly. I brought it down to the back porch, where I set it free. It flew high into the "wild blue yonder." I went back up to survey the damage; two valuable pink luster cups on the ornate cabinet by the front window had crashed to the floor. Where that starling got in is still a mystery. But until the gremlins get out of our house the priceless china is packed away. Thus endeth my first volume of who-dun-its.

Florence B. Taylor
2907 Hampshire Rd.,
Cleveland Hts., Ohio

Next - 6/2/49 - Arthur Godfrey Broadcasts from the Airship
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