There was an attempted kidnapping in Austin yesterday. Caught the story on the 5AM news update this morning. I suddenly remembered an incident from about 1960 or 1961 that has always made me wonder what might have happened if I had not been carefully coached by my parents.
We lived in Oak Hill at the time, in a parsonage directly east of the church. It was a rock house with a large front yard and a rock fence that ran along the front edge. The fence broke at the driveway and then continued on for the length of the church's front yard. It made a great play area boundary. It was also wide enough to be a child's walkway and I would walk that fence for hours. Where the breaks occurred, there were raised pillars just right to sit on and dream while watching the traffic on Highway 290, a short distance away.
Those were different times and a child could play outside without constant supervision, provided they were trained to stay out of the road. Still, living next door to the church drew a lot of passing transients looking for a handout, so Mother had drilled me to be cautious of strangers.
I knew most of the locals because they went to our church or their kids went to school with me. The guy that pulled up at the edge of our yard that day was a stranger. He was driving a car that was probably a 1955 Impala, with a blue lower half, a white upper half, and a gold division between the two colors. There was a little boy in the front passenger seat. I was playing in the yard by myself since David was just a baby at the time. Mother was inside the house somewhere and Daddy was not at home.
The man parked the car just outside the gate of the rock wall and started walking toward me. I immediately ran for the house and called out to Mother that someone was there. Instead of coming on to the house to talk to Mother, the man abruptly turned on his heel, got in his car and drove off. The car was gone by the time she made it to the front door.
So I've often wondered just what he was up to that day. He could have had no reason to talk to me. If his purpose was innocent, he should have followed me up to the house and waited for Mother to come to the door. Instead he departed as quickly as he had arrived. There was no one else anywhere around that day, except the little boy in the car who I never saw look out of the window in the time it was parked there.
So did I dodge a child molester or kidnapper? Who knows. I'm glad my parents were diligent in teaching me to be wary of my surroundings. I could have been a statistic if they had not.