I was fourteen-years old, in 1962, living on Cayuga Street in Grandpa’s house, and both my brother and I knew of Grandpa’s wine cellar, in the basement; Mike, my brother had visited it a few times with his homemade crafted key, and drank his and my portion of Grandpa’s 140-proof, vodka, and some of his wine and beer. I never did, not sure why, just didn’t, and one day Mike told me he did, I had never caught him doing it, nor tried to. And grandpa was asking my mother: how come his beer was missing; of course Grandpa, didn’t think Mike would do such a thing, he was his Golden boy, you could say, and so my name came to my mother’s attention, via, Grandpa. But I was innocent, of any wrong doing in that area.
It wasn’t long after that information was given to me by my brother, that my curiosity got the best of me, and I thought I could carve a key like Mike out of a nail, and I did, just like that, so simple I thought, and opened the wine cellar door. Yes, I told myself, yes, it was all there, the wine, the beer, and the vodka, plus a few other bottles of this and that. And it was all laid neatly on old papers. Very old paper; so old they had turned from its original color, to an antique dark brown. Some of the papers dated in the 30s, some in the 40s and a few in the early 50s.
I was more interested in the old papers than the booze, and so I started to read them, pick them up; move the bottles here and there. One of the papers still had its sports section in it, said something about the Baseball Team, the Saints, winning or losing, not sure, but in Minnesota in 1962, we had a team called the Twins, a baseball team, and here was the Saints, prior to them, so it was interesting. And as I looked and read, I wanted to keep some of the old papers, and perhaps, replace them with new ones, not sure what I was going to do; before I could make up my mind, two $500-dollar bills fell out from under one of the papers.
I was in awe, stood in semi-shock for a moment–stone still. I had never seen a $100-dollar bill, let alone, $500 dollar bills, and here were two. I heard roomers that Old Man Beck (the previous owner of the house) had hidden his money, and then died, and his children sold my grandfather the house. But then, it seems not uncommon for such mysterious stories to come to light like that, when a loner dies in a big house; when in essence, there is no money in most cases. But here it was, $1000 -dollars, so perchance they were right, the old man indeed had some bucks. On the other hand, could it be my Grandfather’s? So I deduced. Of course I wanted it to be Old Man Beck’s, so I could keep it and sleep at night.
Well, I took the money went to talk to my friend Lormor, he lived two houses away (a year older than me), and his brother Tom (in his mid to late 20s) was selling a 1956 Oldsmobile. I explained to him about the money, but no one else, and he talked to his brother Tom. And I guess I thought at that time, all was fixed, and all I needed was to have the car put into my name, if in fact it could be so easy. But before that took place, other issues arose.
Said Lormor on the phone:” Chick, my father came home, asked Tom how on earth does a fourteen year old boy come up with $1000-dollars? I think they are going to come over to your house and talk to your mom…”
I guess Tom didn’t say too much I’m sure he wanted the deal to go thought he had the money now.
The next thing that took place was a knock at my door, and Tom, Lormor, and the father were there, and my mother answered it. I think I wanted to hide, grandpa was someplace in the living room, and my heart was leaping everywhichway.
The father explained that I had given two $500-dollar bills to Tom, and was it really mine to give. Lormor had not explained everything to his father up to this point; he played dumb, you could say.
Well, the money was given back to my mother, whom talked to Grandpa about it, and he of course said it belonged to him, and accused me of drinking his beer and wine now; if my brother was under suspicion, he was no longer. But was it Grandpa’s money. I knew where he hid his, under the stairs, and he was not as made at me for taking $1000-dollars, than he was for me not cleaning under the front porch one summer a few years back. So it made me think. It still does.
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