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Story ID:8739
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family History
Location:Cobleskill New York USA
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By Fred Wickert

September of 1970 was coming soon. It was to be Grandma's 99th birthday. I wanted it to be special for her so I called Mom and suggested, if it was okay with her, that I would try to get as much family together as I could to celebrate the event. I put in for a few days leave from the Air Force. I was a member of Presidential Security at Andrews Air Force Base. I knew there was a policy for the president to send a card to everyone for their hundredth birthday. I put in a request for President Nixon to send one to her for her 99th birthday as well. He did. Uncle Clem and aunt Irma came, my oldest sister Helen and her husband Merle and their children came. Priscilla, my youngest sister had been killed earlier in an accident so she couldn't make it but her husband was there. Ruth and Walt, my other sister and her husband, their son Tom and his girl friend, their daughter Sheila and a guy she was dating at the time, and Priscilla's four boys who were living with Ruth and Walt were all there. Of course my wife Tae had come with me along with my dog Freckles. We were all there for the event. It was a nice day and we were outside in the yard.

There was a popular weekly TV show in those days called THIS IS YOUR LIFE. Sheila had prepared a big scrap book based on the TV show, filled with news paper clippings, letters, photos and all sorts of other things from her life that brought back fond memories for Grandma. There was of course plenty to eat, including the traditional birthday cake and ice cream. Grandma was tired but greatly pleased. A great time was had by all. Sheila had done a great job and presented Grandma with the scrap book when she concluded her presentation.

Tom told me of a dance coming up at a Red Barn in Cobleskill. He said it was where he had met his girl June. He suggested that Tae and I come to the barn dance as guests of he and June. Tom said he could save a table for all of us. Tae and I thought it sounded like fun so we agreed to meet him there. At the dance we were having a good time. Sheila was there too, without a date. Sheila was really pretty with a million dollar smile, long red hair, sparkling blue eyes with a twinkle in them. She was so pretty that she had won a county wide beauty pageant, with the title of Dairy Princess at the county fair. On the other hand, she had lead a sheltered life and was naive and much to trusting. She did not recognize dangerous situations.

Tae and I had not noticed Sheila around on the dance floor for a while. Tom approached me and asked me to come with him. He had to go get Sheila. I told Tae to sit at the table with June and Tom and I would return soon. I followed Tom outside.

Tom headed toward the rear of the large and filled parking lot. He did not explain but he walked with a purpose. He began to head for a single car and I could hear a harmonica playing. Then as we approached the car I could hear Sheila's voice telling someone how good they were on the harmonica and that they should try to pursue it professionally.

Tom approached the car. There were five guys in the car. It was a two door sedan. There were three guys in the front seat and Sheila was seated in the middle of the back seat between two guys. One of them was playing a harmonica. Tom's voice boomed in a manner that meant business. He said, “Sheila, get out of that car! Now!”

A voice inside the car said, “Wait a minute. Who are you?”
Tom replied, “She's my baby sister and she's getting out of that car right now!”

A voice inside the car pleaded they were doing no harm and to take it easy. Tom was having none of it and again demanded Sheila get out of that car. Sheila was upset but she knew her brother. The door on the passenger side opened and a guy got out. Then a guy from the back seat got out and made room for Sheila to get out. When Sheila got out, Tom walked back to her, took her hand and headed for the barn.

Sheila was not happy at all about what had just happened. Tom asked me to take her home and I did. I was driving my pick up on that trip for some reason. Sheila sat in the middle between Tae and I on the way back to the farm. She complained that she was sick and tired of people telling her what to do. She believed she was grown up now and able to make her own decisions. I told her she was not.

I explained to her that she was not yet prepared to make her own decisions. She did not understand what she had done wrong. I explained to her that she had put her self in great danger. She had allowed herself to get in the back seat of a two door sedan between two guys she did not know, with three other guys in the front seat she did not know. I explained to her that she was in a spot where she could never escape if she needed to. Slowly she began to understand what danger she could have been in and began to lose her anger. She had just learned one of life's lessons. Fortunately for her, it wasn't learned the hard way.

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