Friday, September 11, 2009

Flashback Friday -- scary memory

I am a bit uncomfortable about posting this, but it has been preying on my mind recently. The revelation of the kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard has been big news. It made me remember my fortunate escape from an incident when I was ten years old.

I was walking along Orinda Way (then called San Pablo Dam Road) on my way to Lila Murphy’s dance class rehearsal at Orinda Union Grammar School. I was carrying my leotard and ballet slippers. A black car pulled up along side of me and the man in the car leaned across the passenger seat and hailed me. “Do you want to play with my big rubber thumb?” he asked. I had no idea what he was talking about. I leaned toward the car and he showed me a flesh colored object. It did not look very interesting to me. I said, “No” and moved back away from his car. He kept talking.

I began to get scared. I told him that I was going to the school. I said, “I will scream and cry.” He said, “All right Girley,” and drove quickly away. I hurried on to the school.

When I came though the main door I saw the school principal, Mr. Sheaf, in the lobby. He was talking to a big tall sheriff in uniform. I rushed up to them and tried to get their attention. Mr. Sheaf did not look at me. I finally got up the courage to tell them that a man in a black car had stopped me. Both the principal and the sheriff looked down at me with disdain. Mr. Sheaf said, “You are making things up just to get attention.” He seemed very mad. I was mortified. I rushed to my dance rehearsal in the auditorium. I did not say a word to anyone because I was sure I had done something terribly wrong.

My parents had taught me, “The policeman is your friend,” and they had warned me about taking candy from strangers, but this incident did not seem to fit into those categories. I was puzzled. I can still describe the car (a 1940s Ford or Chevy coupe) and the man in the car (about 25 years old with dark hair) because it is such a vivid memory.

Later that day, I did not tell my parents anything about the episode. It was probably a month later that I finally told them and they were horrified. They went to the school and talked with someone, but I never heard another word about it, ever.

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Blogger Warty Mammal said...

Lord almighty. That is dreadful! I am so glad you got away from that creep, and sorry the pigheaded, irresponsible idiots discounted your story. I wonder how many other girls and women silently nursed wounds because no one would listen and believe them?

3:24 PM  
Blogger sophie said...

I hope your parents set Mr. Sheaf straight. What a horrible way to treat a little girl who was coming to him for help.

The close calls in life can be life can be pretty frightening in hindsight, can't they? I'm glad the little girl you had the good sense to threaten to scream and were able to run away.

3:31 PM  
Blogger Piecefulafternoon said...

How very dreadful - but that was the way things were handled then - unfortunately. I am so glad that is all the worse it was for you - that is not to say in the least that it wasn't a horrifying incident. I'm glad you were brave enough to say what you said and to get away.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Christine Thresh said...

Well, let's remember that this was over fifty years ago. I think nowadays my (or any little girl's) report would be taken more seriously.
I has haunted me, though.

7:55 PM  
Blogger Mego said...

My heart goes out to you and carrying around that memory for all these years. It shapes the way we deal with life. Bravo to your parents for teaching you to yell and scream. It was something my parents told me and I passed down to my children. I believe teachers and police are much more in tune these days. AND I'm making the muffins tomorrow...I have all the ingredients!

8:37 PM  
Anonymous Pat said...

This may have been many years ago, but my heart aches for you. How unfortunate those things were not taken seriously back then. Why do some of the worst things that happen to us haunt us for years. I'm so glad you knew what to do!

5:39 PM  
Blogger Christine Thresh said...

Oh, I don't want you to worry about me. Actually the incident passed from my thoughts rather quickly.
Once in a great while I've thought about it when some kidnapping story is on the news. But I do not have any bad dreams or bad feelings. I felt very fortunate to have scared the guy off and was rather proud of my actions.
I did warn my own children about being approached by strangers.
I think these things are taken very seriously at the present time.

5:59 PM  
Blogger Meggie said...

Living in a small rural community we did not have such 'stranger danger' but we did have some locals who we were warned not to accept rides from! How ghastly that seems now! Why didn't the community do something??
I am so glad you were safe, & did the right thing. How scary to think man might have had better 'luck' with some other poor child.

12:54 AM  
Blogger Elaine Adair said...

Wow - what if? Makes you think, doesn't it?

10:53 AM  
Blogger Tanya said...

It is unfortunate that so many adults (me included) don't take the things children say seriously...

4:48 PM  

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