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NO TRESSPASSING

BY LOIS JEAN THOMAS

JUNE 2024

Last week, my husband Paul and I traveled from our home in the countryside, near Montpelier, Vermont, to my mother's home in rural Lawrence County, Indiana, west of the small city of Bedford. Paul and I have lived in Vermont for the past 30 years. Both of us grew up in southern Indiana, me, in rural Lawrence County, which is limestone quarry territory, The limestone industry provides the economic foundation for the county. My father worked in the quarry throughout my childhood, operating heavy machinery.

Paul came from neighboring Monroe County. The two of us met as freshmen at Indiana University in Bloomington. I majored in education. But after his first year, of college, Paul decided that he wanted to pursue a career in the culinary arts. So, he left IU, and applied for admission to The New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. He was accepted and moved to Vermont. We maintained a long-distance relationship for several years. During that time, I visited Paul in Vermont half a dozen times, and I absolutely fell in love with the state. After I graduated from IU, it didn't take much effort on Paul’s part to convince me to move to Vermont to be near him. After we got married, I taught elementary school in Montpelier for About 25 years. After Paul graduated from the Culinary Institute, he became an instructor there. So, we raised our son Eric here in Vermont. After I retired from teaching, I began working at the front desk at the Holiday Inn in Montpelier. There is an artsy little boutique in downtown Montpelier that sells products made in Vermont. And for the past few years, I've had a little side job.

The shop sells sweaters, caps, scarves, mittens, and throws that I knit. They are advertised as handcrafted by a local artisan. They sell quickly, so, I am very busy keeping up with the store’s demand for inventory.

Our son attended the University of Vermont, and Vermont law school. Eric now works as a prosecuting attorney In Burlington. He lives with his wife and two daughters in that city, which is about 40 miles from where Paul and I live. Paul and I were afraid that Eric would move out of his home state, just as we had done. But he showed no inclination to do that. I think Eric loves Vermont as much as Paul and I do. Everyone who comes to Vermont to visit us falls in love with the state. Tourism is one of our biggest industries. Tourism keeps us busy at The Holiday Inn year-round. Although our winters can be harsh, people flock to Vermont for skiing and other winter sports. Spring and summer are absolutely beautiful here. And autumn In Vermont is spectacular, with the splendid colors of the foliage. In my opinion the peak time for viewing color in Vermont is right now, late October.

And our capital city is such a charming little town, very artsy. Montpelier has been recognized as one of the 100 best small arts towns in this country. Vermont has the distinction of having the smallest capital city of any state in the country. There are barely more than 8000 people living in Montpelier.

I had an agenda for last week’s trip. I wanted to convince my 80-year-old mother to move to Vermont to live with us. We have plenty of room for her in our spacious country home. I wasn’t very optimistic about accomplishing that agenda. My mother lives in the home my father built for the family when I was a child. My father passed away four years ago. I think remaining in the home is my mother's way of feeling connected to him. Even though I don't think she is entirely safe living on her own, my older brother Barry and his wife live in Bedford, about 5 miles from her, so they can look in on her frequently.

The day before our trip, Paul said to me, “I don't know why we're doing this Amy, you’ve already talked to your mother several times about moving to Vermont. You know she's dragging her feet on this issue, and she's not ready to budge.”

“I know I said, “but I want to try one more time. I know she would be so happy out here with us.”

“OK then,” Paul said, “I just don't like seeing you disappointed Amy. I hope that's not your only reason for making the trip.”

At that moment, I didn't have any other reason, I was stuck on the idea of convincing Mom to make the move. What ended up happening though, was that I broke the law. That is not at all like me. I’ve always been a law-abiding person. I've learned a little bit about the law, from my son, the prosecutor. I think what I did would be considered a misdemeanor.

The night before we set out on our trip, another reason for traveling to Indiana came to me. I had a dream, a very vivid dream. I dreamt about the house across the road from my mother's home. My family has always referred to the home across the street as the Drummond house.

My dreams often have a psychic quality to them. Sometimes I dream about something that is going to happen in the future, and it does happen. And sometimes, I dream about something that happened in the past, something I never knew about, then I find out that my dream was accurate. That stuff always freaks Paul out. He doesn't really believe in psychic phenomena. So, I don't talk about it with him very much. But I have learned to pay attention to my dreams.

“I dreamt about the Drummond House last night,” I said to him as we set out on our trip, “I dreamt that we went to the house, and I went inside and looked around and then went down to the basement. In the basement, I found the skeletal remains of a baby. Alongside the remains there was a note.”

The note said, “this is my son. He did not survive his surgery,” and it was signed, Rupert Drummond.

“That's really weird,” Paul said, “Amy, you really do have the strangest dreams.”

It took us two days to travel From Vermont to southern Indiana, So Paul and I had plenty of time to talk. We set out early Saturday morning. I had packed our lunch in a cooler, so we did not need to stop for lunch. That helped us make better time and we drove quite a distance our first day. Paul did most of the driving. We traveled through the Green Mountains of Vermont, and the Green Mountain National Forest, and along the shores of Lake Eerie. The Autumn foliage was magnificent. Then we drove to Buffalo, NY. and then on to Erie, PA, where we spent the night in a Holiday Inn. Staying In a Holiday Inn in another part of the country is comforting to me. It makes me feel at home.

Not wanting to waste time, we got up early the next morning, and left Erie PA before 7:00 AM. Because Paul had driven the previous day, I got behind the wheel of the car, and drove west, around Lake Erie toward Cleveland, Ohio. And then from Cleveland to Columbus. As soon as we entered the flat terrain of Ohio farm country, I felt as if I could be lulled to sleep. I was thankful for a thermos full of coffee to perk me up and keep me awake. Then I drove from Columbus to Indianapolis IN. Where we grabbed some fast food. Paul took over driving again. We traveled from Indianapolis to Bloomington, and from Bloomington to Bedford. As we entered Bedford, I was reminded of how small that city is, although at 13,000 people it is larger than Vermont's capital city of Montpelier.

“So, now,” I said to Paul just as we entered Bedford., “We just have to go to the Drummond house.”

“Why?” Paul asked.

“Because of that dream I had. And I want You to see the house.”

“If it is across the street from your mother's house,” Paul said, “then surely I have seen it before.”

“Maybe,” I said, “But you probably wouldn't have seen it clearly. It is set back off the road a little way and has a very long lane. We will need to drive down the lane to get a good look at the house.”

“That doesn‘t sound like a good idea to me,” Paul said. “We shouldn’t Be wandering around on private property. Tell me more about this Drummond House.”

“Well,” I said. “It's an old two-story farmhouse with a wrap-around front porch. It has been abandoned for a long time, and I think that it has fallen into serious disrepair.”

“When I was growing up, the house was owned by Earl and Gertrude Drummond. The other night, after I had the dream, I got up and googled some things about the Drummonds. I found some obituaries which told me a lot about the family. And then I remembered things my mom told me when I was a child. To the best of my knowledge, the house was built by Earl Drummond's father, Rupert Drummond, so the house was the childhood home of Earl, his brother Roger, and his sister Sally.”

“It sounds like you're getting really obsessed about this Amy,” Paul said, “you always make me nervous when you get this obsessed on a subject. You go down a rabbit hole that you can’t get yourself out of, I know you're going to want to tell me all about the Drummonds, so go ahead,”

“I don't remember old Rupert Drummond at all,” I told him. “He probably died long before I was born. My parents knew him.

“But, I can vividly picture his son, Earl Drummond. Earl was a short, pot-bellied man, bald, with a stubble of beard, and shifty, beady eyes. My dad hated him. But his wife, Gertrude, who went by Trudy, was a pretty woman. My mom tried to be friendly with Trudy, although she really didn't approve of her. When I was growing up, my mom attended a conservative little church In Bedford. She always wanted my dad and my brother and me to go with her. But none of us were interested in doing that. The church had very strict rules about a woman's appearance, and about how she was supposed to conduct herself. And Trudy Drummond broke every one of those rules. She always wore a lot of gaudy jewelry, along with bright red lipstick. In the summer, she could be seen in short shorts and skimpy halter tops that showed off her shapely figure. Unkindly, my mom said that Trudy Drummond looked like a loose woman. She invited Trudy to go to church with her, so that she could learn the errors of her ways. But Trudy never went with her.

Sometimes, Earl Drummond would come over and ask my dad and Barry to help him with some project he was doing around the house or property, such as putting up drywall, moving heavy furniture or trying to fix a plumbing problem.  Earl would offer to pay them, but my dad would always decline payment.

While the men worked, Trudy would hang around them in her skimpy clothing. My mom hated that. “I don't want you and Barry around Trudy’s indecency,” she told my dad, “The next time Earl asks you for help, I want you to tell him that you're not available.”

“I don't want to do that,” my dad said, “that will only increase the tension between us as neighbors.”

“What kind of tension did your family have with the Drummonds,” Paul asked me.

“The Drummonds kept a little bit of livestock on their property, which was always a source of aggravation for my father. There was a rickety old barn toward the back of the property, along with a few other outbuildings. There was a fenced-in pasture for their cows, the Drummonds usually kept half a dozen to 10 Heffers and one bull. And they also had a pen for hogs. Sometimes the cows would break through the pasture gate and go walking down the road. That would really aggravate my dad. Several times a cow was hit by a motorist, endangering the driver and his passengers. My dad said that Earl Drummond did not take care of his livestock. And that his livestock roaming free created a hazard on the highway. Probably the most aggravating thing, though, was when the pigs got out of their pen. This always seemed to happen after my mom had planted her vegetable garden in the spring. The pigs would destroy all the young plants. This happened every year. I got used to seeing my mom crying over a destroyed garden. It was not an uncommon scenario during the summer, that the pigs would break out of their pen early in the morning and wander onto our property. Then Mom would get Barry and me up, much earlier than we wanted to get up during our summer break from school. And she would assign us the task of chasing the Drummond hogs back across the road. I was always afraid one of my friends would drive by and see me engaged in the humiliating activity of chasing hogs. So, I came to personally resent Earl Drummond for his negligence.

One year, my mom planted watermelon in her garden, which excited Barry and me. We watched the growing vines, and the development of the tiny melons. And we cheerfully weeded the melon patch whenever Mom asked us to, because we were that enthused about the prospect of melons. But wouldn't you know it, one night the Drummond hogs got out of their pen and came over to help themselves to the watermelon, taking bites out of every last melon. That year, I took the hogs' vandalism seriously. I was personally furious with Earl Drummond for not keeping his pigs away from our garden.

When I told Paul about what had happened, he said. “Wow, Amy, I know how much you like melon, I bet you were really ticked about that?”

 Of course, My mom was angry about the loss of the melons too. She said, “you’d think Trudy would at least come over and apologize to me.”

Trudy never did. Probably half a dozen times a year. The pigs would come over and root up the sod in our front yard with their ugly snouts. I remember one time when Mom was out in the front yard after one of those events, trying to put some of the sod back into place. Trudy waved to her from her front porch but did not apologize or offer to help.

Trudy Drummond had four children. The two oldest boys were grown men by the time I knew them. They were by Trudy's first husband Harvey Green. Their names were Franklin and Frederick Green. Trudy fondly referred to them as Frankie and Freddy. Then, she had two children by the despicable Earl Drummond. They were Joey and Julie. Joey was a year or two older than me, and Julie was in my grade in school. The fact that Trudy had been divorced and remarried, and that she had children by two different men, only confirmed my mom's view of her as a loose woman. Whenever my mom talked that way about Trudy, I never thought it was fair. I always thought that Trudy was not only pretty, but also sweet and kind.

There was always something interesting going on at the Drummond property. I used to sit on the steep bank on our side of the road just to watch the comings and goings across the street. It seemed as if at least once a week, Freddy and Frankie, who did not live with Earl and Trudy, would come home to visit, bringing their girlfriends to meet their mother. I thought Freddy and Frankie’s girlfriends were the prettiest girls I'd ever seen.

Occasionally, an old pickup truck would pull into the Drummond’s long lane and drive toward the woods behind their house. Then, several men would get out of the truck and traipse back into the woods. Once, I asked my dad what the men did in the woods. Dad looked disgusted. He said he thought they were running a bootleg operation. I asked him what that was, and he said it was the illegal production of liquor. He said the operation had been started by Earl’s father, Rupert, way back in the 1920s.

Julie and Joey Drummond would sit on the bank on their side of the road, doing the same thing I was doing, only they were watching the activity on our property. Whenever they saw my mother working in her garden. or hanging laundry on the clothesline, or going to the mailbox, they would call out. “Can Amy come over and play?”

Mom would usually let me go, although I don't think she really wanted me to. She always instructed me to stay outdoors. She did not want me to go Inside the Drummond house. I had a sense that she thought something evil might be going on inside of that house, and she didn't want me influenced by whatever that was.

The only times I went into the Drummond home was when my mom went over to visit Trudy and I went along with her. Often, Earl's mother Ethel would be there when we visited. Ethel would usually have her daughter Sally with her. Earl's sister Sally was a little strange. My mom said that Sally was mentally slow. She acted and talked like a child, as if she were hardly any older than her nephew and niece, Joey and Julie. I eavesdropped on my mother's conversations with the Drummond women and pieced together a more complete picture of the Drummond family. I came to realize that The Drummond farmhouse had been Earl and Sally's childhood home. Sally seemed to be very attached to the house, as she had grown up there. The room that Julie slept in had been Sally’s bedroom when she was a little girl. Sometimes, When Sally got tired while we were visiting, Ethel would tell her to go lie down in her room and take a nap, and she would promptly go to Julie's room as she still considered it to be her bedroom.

Old Ethel Drummond was quick to lapse into tears, and Sally often cried along with her mother. One day when Ethel was particularly weepy, I heard her talking about her son, Roger, and her baby boy Joseph. I took it that both sons were deceased.

“Mommy cries about Roger and cries about my baby brother. I cry about them too.” Sally said.

“Sally really was very childlike,” I told Paul “I remember one time when we were there, she was begging Gertrude to let her go out to the pigpen and feed the piggies. And Trudy told her “No, do you remember Sally?” she said, “What happened the last time you went out there on your own. You opened the gate and let the pigs out. And your brother Earl had a terrible time getting them all rounded up and back inside the pen. So, if you go to feed the pigs. You need to have someone go out there with you, at least Joey or Julie.”

Sally pouted and cried. Thinking back on that, I suspected some of the times the pigs got out was not Earl’s negligence, but his sister's mischief. And I felt sorry about what I had held against Earl.

“So why do you want to go into the house Amy?” Paul asked. “You are not going to find any skeletal remains in there? I can assure you of that.”

“I just have to see what I can find,” I said “I have a lot of special memories of being at the Drummond house. I know I'm going to feel on edge until I check out the place. I need to get closure.”

My most special memory is when Trudy invited me to come to Julie’s 6th birthday party. I was so happy when my mother gave me permission to go. Trudy had the house decorated with balloons and streamers. There were six little girls from our 1st grade class who came, including myself. The party was held at noon and Trudy fed us a lunch that we all loved: chili dogs and potato chips. Julie's birthday cake was a chocolate layer cake, and it had tiny dolls standing around the periphery of the cake, the dolls were dressed like children from other countries. I had never seen anything so charming as that cake. My mother had never done anything that special for Barry or me on our birthdays. When it came time for Trudy to cut the cake, she first lifted the dolls from the periphery of the cake and handed one to each of the children in attendance. I treasured mine, which was a tiny girl dressed like a child from Japan.

After we had had our fill of corn dogs, chips, and birthday cake, Trudy brought a stack of washcloths to the table. With tenderness She washed the chili and chocolate frosting off each of our faces and hands, rendering all of us presentable for when our parents came to pick us up.

That birthday party was the most special thing that I had ever witnessed an adult do for children. And I marveled at the fact that someone so sweet, kind, and gentle as Trudy was that day, could be considered to be a bad person. It didn't make sense to me.

As I drove south from Indianapolis to Lawrence County. I was greeted by the sight of rolling wooded hills, ablaze with autumn colors. I immediately felt at home. Not only because I was raised in Lawrence County but because, the place reminded me of Vermont, which I claim as my home now.

As I drove through Bedford, I was reminded of how small the city is. But I also realized that with a population of over 13,000 people, Bedford is still larger than Montpelier. That blows my mind. While Bedford isn't an artsy little city Like Montpelier, it is still a great place to raise a family. It has a suburban feel to it. It has affordable housing, with low population density, a good job market, and a low unemployment rate. It has a great educational system, good health care, and a low crime rate. Shopping is plentiful and there are even more resources available in nearby Bloomington. As we drove out into the countryside, I kept insisting that we at least needed to pull into the Drummond driveway and take a look at the house from the outside. “OK,” Paul finally agreed, “I'll do that much for you Amy, but you must promise me that you won't try to go inside. We came here to see your mother, and we're not going to get caught up in a lot of nonsense.”

Plans kept churning in my mind, But I didn't voice them.

As we approached my mother's house, Paul turned on his signal, to make the turn into her drive. “We need to go in the other direction,” I insisted. “Pull into the Drummond drive, please.”

To my surprise, Paul reluctantly obliged and pulled into the drive. At the end of the drive, was a sign That said, “private property, no trespassing at any time.”

“I'm not going any farther,” Paul said.

Then he spotted the Drummond’s old barn behind the house. “Look,” he said. “There is that barn you were telling me about.” There were piles of construction materials in front of the barn. And there were two men on the roof who were putting new roofing on the barn.

“It appears,” Paul said, ‘that they are doing some renovations. It actually looks as if they are converting the barn into a residence. That's interesting. Do you know anything about this? “

“No,” I said, “let's ask Mom.”

 

“Well then let's go do that right now,” he said.

 I knew he was trying to distract me from further urges to explore the Drummond property.

But then, I did something unthinkable. I jumped out of the car, slammed the door, and began running toward the house.

Paul opened his door and yelled at me. “Amy, what the heck do you think you're doing?”

I knew I was acting like a brat.

“You cannot go inside the house,” Paul yelled. “We shouldn't even be on this property, let alone inside the house. That would be trespassing for sure. If you don't come back here right now, I'm going to back out of the drive and turn around and go to your mother's house. I'm not going to get arrested for trespassing along with you. Do you want to end up in the Lawrence County jail? If you do, I will have no choice but to go back to Vermont without you. Do you want me to have to tell Your son that you got arrested? Do you want your granddaughters to know that you are in jail, just like the criminals that their daddy prosecutes?”

But I was undaunted by what Paul was saying to me. I couldn't help myself. I just had to get inside the Drummond house, I looked around, and there was no one else in sight except for the men working on the barn roof. And they didn't appear to even notice me.

So, feeling safe to proceed, I stepped onto the porch. The old metal porch glider that had always sat on the Drummond’s porch, was still there. It had once been painted bright yellow. But it was now badly rusted. I sat down on the glider for old time’s sake, and tried to make it move, but I couldn't budge it. Some mechanism had been broken. I remembered how, when I used to go over to play with Joey and Julie on their porch. I would lie down on the glider, and one of them would push me on it. It was kind of like going on a carnival ride. Eventually, my stomach would get queasy. Once, I vomited all over the porch, much to Trudy Drummond’s chagrin.

In addition to the glider, there were several large flowerpots on the porch that had fallen onto their sides, and potting soil was spilling out of them. I recalled how Trudy Drummond had always kept potted plants on her front porch. It looked as if stray cats had been using the pots full of dirt as litter boxes. I felt compelled to take a moment to set the pots upright. I set them on each side of the porch glider, the way that Trudy used to keep them.

The only other items on the porch, other than the piles of dried leaves that had accumulated, were two tiny tricycles, once painted Red and blue, that were now badly rusted. Their rubber tires were cracked and completely deteriorated. The tiny metal seats were so rusted they could have crumbled into dust. There were remnants of the decorative tassels that had once hung from the handlebars. I bent down to inspect one of the trikes closely. I was pretty sure the tricycles were the same ones that I had ridden around the Drummond porch as a preschooler. I remembered taking turns with Joey and Julie.

 I felt a strong urge to grab one of the tricycles, carry it out to the car, and toss it into the trunk, as a keepsake from my childhood. But I knew Paul would never agree to that idea.

I opened the front door, which I was surprised to find unlocked, and stepped inside, and walked into the living room, which was in shambles, with an old sofa turned over. The fabric of the sofa’s lining was ripped. It looked as if it had been slashed with a knife. I grabbed one edge and ripped it further, then looked inside. The main thing that I found inside the couch was rodent droppings. I also found one quarter, one nickel and two pennies, which I picked up. Strewn all over the living room floor were old newspapers, old copies of the Bedford paper, The Times - Mail I picked up one newspaper, and saw that it was dated back in the 1970s. I folded it, then tucked it under my jacket, as a keepsake. There was also old mail lying around, some with postmarks from decades earlier. Some of the envelopes were already torn open. So, I pulled out the contents to see what they were. There were a lot of old utility bills, a car title, and medical bills. But I didn’t find anything that interested me. I walked into the kitchen, and found it to be a mess, too, with cupboard doors flung open. Dishes were all over the counter.

Some of them had been used but not washed. I had an urge to wash all the dishes and stack them neatly in the cupboards, but there was no dish soap in sight. There were a number of tin plates and matching tin cups, along with an array of mismatched stainless-steel flatware.

I noticed that the plates and cups appeared to be the same ones that Trudy had served food on at Julie 6th birthday party.    I tucked one plate and one cup under my jacket, along with the newspaper. Out of a sense of guilt. I laid the $0.32 I had found in the couch on the table, paying for my theft. I then headed to the basement door. I found the staircase to be decidedly rickety with some of the wooden steps broken and loose. The handrail was loose and wobbly, and I was afraid I was going to fall. I knew what Paul would say, that it is not safe to mill around in an old house. If I ended up sprawled on the hard-packed dirt floor, I hoped Paul would come in and find me. He would need to call an ambulance to get me up the stairs. Then, the police would be called, for sure, and I would be in bigger trouble than I'd ever been in my entire life.

Thankfully, I finally succeeded in descending the treacherous staircase safely to the basement floor. I began pacing back and forth, going over every square inch of it, looking for signs of a small grave but I found nothing. “No skeletal remains,” I chuckled. What I did find though was a   box, disintegrated from the damp conditions in the basement and chewed by rodents. Spilling out of the box was a pile of baby clothing. I picked up one item after another, inspecting them curiously: tiny undershirts, sleepers, a pair of tiny overalls and several, old fashioned cloth diapers. I mediately knew who had worn them: the baby boy whose remains had shown up in my dream. One after another, I held the items up in front of me, inspecting them curiously. They were discolored, mildewed, and full of rodent droppings. I picked up a tiny sleeper with a farm animal print and tucked it under my coat along with the plate and cup.  After I had looked at all the clothing, I found several pieces of tattered paper at the bottom of the box. I immediately got excited, thinking one of the papers might be the note from the baby's father, the note I had found in my dream.

But there was no note. What I found instead was a birth certificate for a baby boy named Joseph Drummond. His birthday was listed as February 3rd, 1940. His parents were listed as Rupert and Ethel Drummond. Then I found a death certificate I didn't know what it was at first. After I inspected it, I saw that little Joseph Drummond had died on February 10th, 1940, seven days after his birth. As I held the birth and death certificates in my hands. I felt overwhelming sadness. It didn't seem like only my own sadness. It felt as if I was picking up on the sadness that had been present in the home before I set foot inside it: the sadness of the people who had loved little Joseph. I was picking up on the sadness of people who had once held those certificates in their hands, Little Joseph's parents: Rupert and Ethel Drummond. There were several more scraps of paper in the box, newspaper clippings from the Times-Mail. One was a birth announcement, announcing that a son, Joseph Drummond, had been born to Rupert and Ethel Drummond. The other clipping was an obituary, stating that, Joseph Drummond, age, one week, had died during open heart surgery. It struck me that I had indeed found remains of the baby boy in my dream, not skeletal remains but remains, just the same. I tucked the birth announcement and the obituary into my coat pocket. For some reason. I felt that stealing official documents: the birth certificate and death certificate, was beyond what I should do, so I put them back into the box, tucking them under the pile of baby clothing. I doubted that the Certificates would be of any use to anyone, but I still couldn't steal official documents. I knew I had to leave, before I got myself into further trouble. So, I went back upstairs and out the front door. I saw that Paul had turned around. Our car was now parked at the end of my mother's driveway. I ran across the street to the car and yanked open the passenger side door. My husband glared at me. “Get in the car right now, Amy,” he scolded. And I did.

He reached over and patted my bulging jacket, and said,“Amy, What do you have in there?”

“Just a few things That I want as keepsakes,” I said.

“That stuff doesn't belong to you.” He replied.

“So not only are you trespassing, Amy,” he said. “You have compounded your crime by stealing. Whatever you took belongs to whoever owns the estate now. Possibly one of Trudy’s children. Maybe Joey or Julie? I'll wait and give you a chance to run inside and put the stuff back.”

“No,” I said. “It's nothing of any value. Let's just go to Mom’s.”

“Put that stuff back,” he insisted.” I trust you will do that, while I go on over to your mom’s.”

He promptly turned the car around and drove up my mother’s lane.

“Don't tell Mom anything,” I said, knowing that he would.

I am used to my husband and my mother ganging up on me when I get hairbrained ideas, or when I do something, I have no business doing.

As Paul walked toward my mother's house, I ran back to the Drummond house. I took the plate and the cup I was carrying under my jacket back into the kitchen. I didn't want to take the risk of going back down the dangerous stairs. So, I simply stood at the top of the stairs and tossed the baby clothing down the stairs. But I kept the clippings from the newspaper. I asked myself why I was hanging on to them. Then I realized that I wanted to prove a point to my husband the skeptic. I wanted to prove that there were indeed remains of a dead baby in the Drummond’s basement. I felt guilty about having ransacked the Drummond House. I wondered if the owner of the estate would be able to tell that something had happened, that the place had been ransacked? If they did, no doubt they would feel as if their privacy had been invaded. I asked myself how would I feel if that happened to me?

And the answer was “terrible.”

I knew Paul had made a valid point. So, I left the Drummond house, and ran across the street to my mother's house, sprinting to catch up with Paul.

“What were you doing over at the Drummond place,” Mom asked. I realized she had been looking out her kitchen window watching for us to drive up. She had seen us pull into the Drummond driveway. I shot Paul a dirty look, trying to convey to him, not to say anything. But, as I feared, he ended up telling my mother what I had done despite his efforts to deter me.

 “Didn't you see that big no trespassing sign at the end of the lane?” She asked, “Someone got arrested there just last week. I saw a pickup truck pull into the lane and then drive toward the woods. A man got out of the truck and walked back into the woods. The next thing I knew, I heard police sirens, and I saw a police car pull in behind the truck. The officers threw the guy into the back of the squad car. I figured something like that was going to happen sooner or later, on that abandoned property.”

“I told you,” Paul said to me. “Amy, you're really lucky you're not in jail right now. You had no business going over there.”

Ignoring the accusing look on her face I said, “Mom, what's going on with that old barn? It seems as if, someone is doing construction on it right now.”

“There was an article about that in the Times-Mail recently,” she said. “You know that Earl's son, Joe Drummond owns that property now. The article said that he is converting the barn into apartments. Just think, if you ever decide to move back to Lawrence County, you could live in one of them. Wouldn't that be nice?”

 I shook my head, as if to convey that we were never moving back to Indiana. Then she went on. “The article also mentioned that. Joe's. great- grandparents, Hiram and Harriet Drummond were among the earliest white settlers in Lawrence County. Before that, the area was occupied by the Shawnee and Potawatomi Tribes. The article also said that Hiram Drummond had bought up a lot of land in the county, when He moved here. I had heard that before,” she said, “And I heard that Harriet Drummond had come from a family with money. Her family owned a chain of department stores based in Indianapolis. So, Earl and Gertrude both would have come into a quite a bit of old family wealth. How did you find out about all that?” I asked her.

“Do you remember? “She said, “When you were a little girl. You would come with me when I went over to the Drummond house to visit with Trudy?” There would often be an elderly woman there, along with her daughter. That was Ethel Drummond, Earl's mother. And her daughter's name was Sally.”

“I remember them.” I said, “Ethel used to cry a lot,” and then Sally would cry too. I never knew what they were crying about. But I remember one time Sally saying, “Mommy cries about Roger and my baby brother? And I cry about them too.”

“What's the story about that,” I asked.

 “Well,” Mom said. “Earl was the second of four children born to Ethel and Rupert. The oldest was a boy named Roger. I'm sure you don't remember him. He died when he was a teenager, In some kind of farming accident. I don't think Rupert and Ethel ever got over his death. Roger was their pride and joy. Earl was the 2nd oldest, but I don't think they favored him the way they did Roger. And then there was Sally. She was mentally slow. Her mind was like the mind of a small child. I don't think she was able to make it very far in school, and she never achieved any adult independence. She lived with her parents and stayed living with Ethel, after Rupert died. Probably a year after Roger died, Ethel became pregnant again. She gave birth to another baby boy. Whom they named Joseph. Joseph was born with a birth defect, a congenital heart condition that required open heart surgery when he was just a few days old. He certainly would have died without the surgery. But sadly, He did not make it through the surgery. He actually died on the operating table. After losing 2 children, Rupert and Ethel’s grief was more than they could bear. So, yes, I imagine. You saw Ethel cry over her lost sons repeatedly. And Sally was so childlike that she simply imitated her mother.”

“Was Joey Drummond named after his Uncle Joseph, who died as a baby?” I asked.

“I think so” Mom said, “I remember when Joey was born Trudy told me that Earl wanted to name him after his baby brother who had died.”

“Dad never liked Earl Drummond,” I said. “He didn't seem to have any respect for him. What was that all about?”

“And you didn't like him very much either, did you?”

“No,” she said. “I think your father’s disgust with Earl started out with the bad deal your father got when he bought land From Earl. He thought Earl screwed him over. Earl Drummond was a smooth-talking guy, and I believe he took advantage of your father who was very mild mannered. Earl was dishonest in his role of county commissioner; it was rumored that he accepted bribes in that position. And as you know Earl worked at the quarry along with your father. He was a supervisor. And he used terrible language when he talked with his underlings. All the men who worked for him hated him. He had the foulest mouth on a man that I have ever heard. He was a heavy drinker. I remember how he would sit on his front porch with a few of his friends, and they would be drinking something out of jugs. It was rumored that, many years earlier, during Prohibition, Earl's father Rupert had started a moon-shining operation back in the woods. And it seems that Earl took it over. All the way around, Earl Drummond was a wicked man. I remember when your father needed a new car. He wouldn't go to any dealership owned by Earl Drummond. Earl owned several dealerships in Bedford and Bloomington. Your father actually went all the way to Indianapolis to buy a car, to avoid doing any business with Earl Drummond.”

“How was Earl with his family?” I asked.

“Well,” my mother said. “I guess I should give credit where credit is due. Earl Drummond was a good provider for his family, even though he did that through devious means. After his father Rupert died. Earl looked after his mother and his sister. And after his mother died, Earl and Trudy took Sally into their home. And they kept her there until she became so sick that they had to put her in a nursing home. So, I guess there was some decency in the man.

Two days later, as we set out on our drive back to Vermont, Paul, said, “Amy, how do you feel about how the visit with your mother went?”

 “It was okay,” I said, “although not what I had hoped for. “

 “But I am not surprised that once again, my mother did not budge an inch on the idea of moving to Vermont, conversely, she seems to be hanging on to the fantasy that you and I will someday move back to Lawrence County.”

“Still,” I said. “I'm glad that I had the chance to find out what happened at the Drummond's house. You may not see it this way. But I did find the remains of the baby in my dream. Not his skeletal remains, but his baby clothing and other artifacts.”

Then I told Paul about the papers I Had found, the birth and death certificates. I pulled the newspaper clippings from my coat pocket. He glanced at them briefly.

“Wow!” he said.

Then, I told him about how I had stopped myself from taking the official certificates.

“Good for you, Amy,” he said. “So, this really was a meaningful trip for you, wasn't it,”

“But, the baby artifacts, were not the most important things that I found,” I told him. “More importantly, what I found was more respect for and understanding of my much-maligned former neighbors, the Drummond family. And more compassion. That feels good. It always feels good to experience empathy and understanding.”

Paul and I have been back in Vermont for three days now. We are back to our normal activities and our normal schedule. Both of us have returned to work. And I have been knitting like a mad woman, trying to build up inventory for the store.

Eric and his girls came over to see us yesterday, wanting to hear about our trip. I made Paul promise not to tell them about my misadventure in the Drummond house. In return, I promised Paul that I would never do such a thing again.

“I know you won't,” he said.

 And I won't. I am sure of that. Paul has forgiven me for my foolishness.

“I want you to know,” he said, “that even though it was wrong. I understand that your urge to look through the Drummond house was quite compelling. The next time you have a dream like the one you had before our trip, you’ll need to find some other way of settling your mind.”

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