The Carolynn Chronicles, Volume 3- “Home Invasion”

When we lived in Arkansas we had a wonderful home. Our family lived on a quiet street (Tilles Avenue) in a Colonial two-story brick house which was built in the late 1800’s. The house had two sets of steps outside.  One set led from the street to the yard and the other from the yard to the porch.  The porch was surrounded on all sides by brick columns. Columns which, by the way, would leave a nasty scratch on your stomach if you ever dared attempting to circle around them.  Not that I would know this. 

Walking up to the front door you could see straight through into the house.  The front door was made of wood, but was primarily a huge pane of glass which gave you full view into our living room, dining room and all the way back to the kitchen doors.  On either side of the door was a sidelight- a narrow glass panel which flanked the door.  So, we’re talking about a 5-foot-wide expanse of glass giving you full access into the Elder household.  Not much privacy, but beautiful nonetheless.  You learned very quickly to never ever walk downstairs in nothing but a towel.   

The downstairs level of our home was your basic “company is coming over and here’s where we’re gonna keep spotless” area.  Inside of our house were two staircases.  One staircase was at the front of the house and underneath that staircase was the music section of our home.  Our family piano and stereo were both contained in this little nook.  The other staircase was located in the back of the house through the kitchen.  Stairs were a major part of our lives during those years- climbing up them, sliding down them, stomping up them, running down them, sulking up them, falling down them- you get the picture.  The front staircase was carpeted but the back staircase was not.  This made for perilous times when you would attempt to sneak down the back stairs in just your sock feet to get a snack out of the kitchen.  My college buddy Jason took a spill one night (he weighed all of 96 pounds soaking wet) and we were all certain upon hearing the unmistakable thudding and crashing coming from the back stairs that there would have to be ambulance involvement.  Jason was okay, but those stairs were slick and treacherous.  I very much preferred using the front ones. 

This is a bit off of the subject at hand, but another hilarious staircase memory that I have in that house is seeing a 7-year-old Jessica running up and down the front stairs in tears because our new kitten had buried her claws into the top of Jessica’s scalp.  So there she is, poor thing, kitten affixed firmly to her head like a feline ball cap.  The kitten is meowing and digging its claws in further with every step Jess is taking.  She is wailing!  Then gazing down from the top of the staircase you have the ever-so-helpful, 9-year-old Amanda laughing hysterically at her.  If you can conjure up even a remotely accurate visual on this, you will understand that my laughter was not so much cruelty as it was necessity.  😉

The upstairs of our home consisted of one long hallway which attached three bedrooms, one bathroom, and the ever-popular sun porch.  The sun porch was an incredible room having about a million windows and was the popular location for friends and family to hang out and just relax.  A gathering place to drink a cup of coffee or watch a bit of television.  The sun porch is also the room, I can vividly remember, where Carolynn ejected the movie “Mask” from our VCR and hurled it across the room because she didn’t approve of the language.  Uh… I suppose this was well-intended parenting, but frankly it just made good fodder for stories that Jess and I would tell in years to come.  Case in point.

Okay, so hopefully now you have a pretty clear idea of the layout of our home.  It should also be said at this time that my father, Tripp, was an insurance salesman and sometimes had to travel out of town for business.  Occasionally dad would stay overnight if the location was just too far a drive.  This was the circumstance on the night of the evening being discussed. 

Dad had gone out-of-town for a night or two, so it was just the girls at the house.  Mom, Jess, and I enjoyed our girl time and would usually do something fun like go to a movie or bake cookies or put cats on Jessica’s head (just kidding).  This particular summer day we had spent at the mall and then returned home.  Jess and I like to listen to the radio.  This was WAY before we had anything cool like ipods.  If you wanted to hear music you could carry around a walkman which wasn’t always very convenient, so we usually just blasted the radio at our house and danced around like crazy people.  This was a fun but risky activity for people with a large, glass front door.  You never knew which of your friends or fellow church members were going to show up on your front porch and accidentally witness this bizarre ritual.

After a fun evening of dancing and dinner the three of us retreated upstairs to the sun porch to watch a movie,  ANY movie but “Mask”.  We had our popcorn and watched our show, then it grew dark outside and it was time for bed.  Mom retreated into her bedroom and Jess and I began getting ready for bed.  Once teeth were brushed and gowns were on she and I both retired to our individual bedrooms and went quickly to sleep.

At approximately 3 a.m. the three of us were violently jolted from our sleep by a HUGE blast of music coming from downstairs.  Our hearts were racing!  Jess and I quickly ran into mom’s bedroom and the three of us decided that obviously someone had broken into our house and we were terrified.  Dad wasn’t here to protect us, so it was up to us to “man up” and take care of this crisis.  Mom quietly walked over to the phone (or perhaps just pulled one out of her straw purse- reference to “The Grounding” blog) and called the police.  She quietly gave them our name and address and then in an even smaller voice whispered, “We think someone is in our house.”  After mom had been assured that help was on the way, she hung up and we all just looked at each other in disbelief.  We’ve all watched episodes of “Dateline”.  We know these situations can turn out very badly.  We were truly scared.  I could feel my heart pounding through my gown.  My palms growing slightly sweaty.

It was during this unbelievably tense moment that mom started to chuckle.  Jess and I were certain she was in the beginning stages of hysteria.  “Why in the world are you laughing?” we asked confused and a bit angry that she wasn’t taking this more seriously.  “Well,” she said, “if someone IS in the house they’re going to kill me anyway when I have to go downstairs to answer the front door for the police.”  And in that moment the three of us burst into fits of laughter!  It was oddly hilarious. 

In closing, the police did come.  They did search the house and they did witness that the radio was blaring.  They also informed us that KISR radio station, the station we had danced to earlier that evening and the BEST radio station in Fort Smith, had experienced a power outage for several hours throughout the night and had regained their power right around- you guessed it- 3 a.m.

Hmmmm… okay…..a bit embarrassing.  So, not only had we disturbed the boys in blue for literally nothing, we had also convinced ourselves that a stranger had broken into our home and turned on the radio full blast.  As if this well-seasoned burglar/rapist were trying to pull some kind of psychological warfare on us.  We thanked the cops and even called the radio station to confirm what they had said.  Yep, sure enough… power outage for several hours.  So, when we had gone upstairs to watch our movie, each of us just assumed the other had turned off the radio since there was no sound coming from it.  Well, you know what they say about assuming, right?  It makes you think that a psychopath has broken into your home and is going to kill you.


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kelli
    Jan 21, 2010 @ 22:10:35

    Oh,what childhood memories we have!! You tell yours so well!! Hilarious!!



  2. Ann Trent
    Jan 22, 2010 @ 06:57:25

    These are so good. I love you and your ability to write.



  3. mandaclair
    Jan 23, 2010 @ 10:18:41

    Thanks Kelli and Ann! I love to write these 🙂



  4. Lela Anderson
    May 15, 2012 @ 21:12:04

    Love your stories Mandaclair, lot’s of parent’s today don’t pay attention to the movie’s their children watch. Glad to hear you had a Mother who did.



  5. Her sister
    Oct 14, 2016 @ 13:19:25

    Oh. My. Gosh. I hadn’t read this one yet!!! This is hilarious! One item to note: the incident with Midnight digging his claws into my scalp – didn’t happen just once!!!!!!



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