I was asked to get involved in an investigation being conducted by the Arcadia police . They wanted a little help , and who am I to turn the local police department down in their time of need ! So I met yesterday with my cop contact and he laid out the facts . Just the facts , ma’m , just the facts .
The request came through the Gilb Museum Curator , Dana . I volunteer over there . The Gilb is the local history museum , now officially called The Gilb Museum of Arcadia Cultural Heritage . I think that’s it . I should know ; should be certain , but as a retired history teacher , my history -teacher mentality somehow blocks out the broader , more inclusive name . I’m not good with names , maybe . Or faces .
I wish the cops would help me out once in awhile , though , too . Like when I got the ticket for parking overnight on my own lawn . Evidently that’s illegal in Arcadia . One lousy night on the lawn , for a good reason , but there on the windshield in the morning is the ticket . Oh , they’re called “citations” , of course — makes them sound suave and debonair , or something . And they include in bold letters the word ‘ violation ‘ . That word hints more directly at the down and dirtiness of the whole matter . That makes me a violator , which ain’t so good . John Dillinger . Al Capone. Shrimp Boy Chow . That crowd .
But that’s an irritation and itch of mine more betterly scratched another time . Here we’re talking about the cops needing my help . So , let’s get to it .
It seems the Police Department has a wall of Arcadia Police Chief photographs . They’re all lined up chronologically at the top of a hallway in the lobby over there . I’m sure that I’ve seen that line of framed photos when I went down to try to fight my lawn-parking citation/violation/ticket . Or , maybe it was when I went over there to try to fight my parked -in -front -of- my- house- with- no- front -license -plate violation . Fifty bucks a pop !
Anyway , I had other things on my mind at the time , and I didn’t focus on the chiefs . I didn’t notice , either , that five of the chiefs are missing . The empty frames are up there , with printed name tags , I guess , but the five frames are empty .
” We have the Chief’s okay “, the cop told me at our little meeting yesterday , meaning that the current Chief of Police okayed the project . It is a missing person case . ” If we could find even one ,” the cop told me , ” I’d be happy “. For the record , I don’t care if the Chief okays the project or not , unless , of course , he’s open to negotiation about future citations ever appearing overnight at my residence .
” Oh , we’ll find at least one ,” I assured the officer . ” If they’re out there , we’ll find ’em “. Like I was suddenly the lead investigator . Like I had any idea if we’d find those photos or not . But one should exude confidence .
This is the city , Arcadia California . I work here “.
He laid out all the known facts so far for me . Not much . Five missing guys going back as far as 1912 . The latest case was from 1934 . The 1934 case killed himself . I found that out later when I did a little preliminary research . There will be a contemporary newspaper story of the suicide , very possibly with a picture of the guy , I think . So I have some leads already . I should have a badge . Maybe not . I should have a free pass to park on my own lawn once in awhile . I should maybe have a Get-Out-of-Jail Card ? We’ll see how the investigation goes first .
I told the guy about the Virgil Middle School line-up of past Principal photos along the top of the wall in the school’s main office . Of how old W*****’s photo one day went missing . Someone had kidnapped it . Ransom notes came into the current principal’s office one at a time over the next few weeks , with demands . Free coffee for the teachers on a particular Wednesday . Administrators all wear funny hats on Friday . Donuts on the counter at sign-out one day next week . Things like that . The ransom notes were worded from letters , words , and phrases cut out from the newspaper and pasted onto a sheet of white paper . They all started : If you ever want to see W***** again ……
Luckily , Dr. Marshall , Principal at the time , had a good sense of humor and so he honored all the demands . His cooperation paid off in the end . W***** was returned to his place up on the wall .
I meticulously timed the return ; had a chair ready to step up on . I had kidnapped old W***** , of course . The whole effort to return him would take me about four seconds . I waited until no one else was in the office . I had W****** in my hand and I made my move .
Just as I stepped up onto the chair I heard a voice behind me : ” Got ya ! ” Marshall had come out of his office . Sometimes the best laid plans of mice ……………….
I told the cop and the Gilb Museum of Arcadia Cultural Heritage Curator my kidnapping story . ” You were a student at the time ? ” the cop asked me . The curator laughed . She knew me better . No , I was a teacher at the time .
” Well , you should come over to the Police Department and do that ,” the cop suggested . I demurred , though . I told him that I don’t mess around with the police .