The Detective’s Daughter – Don’t Talk to Strangers


Kim in Baltimore counting down the days to summer.


I am a shy person. Stop laughing, it’s true. I was extremely bashful as a child especially around men. Until I was in the first grade the only men I ever spoke to was my dad, my Pop-Pop, and my Uncle Charles.  When my other uncles or neighborhood men came around I would hide behind Pop-Pop until they went away.

Dad was a man of few words, but enjoyed sharing stories… and photos … of the crimes he helped to solve. He wasn’t a fan of parties or crowded amusement parks and was never really eager to take us to those places. However, he did like to play cards and games especially checkers. Dad worked shift work as a foot patrolman until I entered Kindergarten. It seemed to me we saw less of him when he went on day work than we did when he worked nights.

FullSizeRender (20)
Me and my Pop-Pop in our living room.

Pop-Pop worked nights in the warehouse for Pantry Pride. In the morning he would come home and eat breakfast with me then walk me to school. He was my best friend and always willing to go to the movies or the park, or walk to Miss Edna’s store to buy snowballs.

Uncle Charles was my Aunt Betty’s husband and my favorite uncle by far. He was funny and handsome and knew how to do just about anything. He and Auntie came to our house every Saturday afternoon for late lunch after we’d all been shopping at the Cross Street Market. Uncle Charles had a great sense of humor and some memorable lines. When asked about his mother-in-law’s cooking, Uncle Charles exclaimed, “It’ll stick to your ribs… and to the wall if you throw it.” His mother-in-law, my great Aunt Mildred, was not amused.

FullSizeRender (22)
My fifth birthday. L-R: Mom, Pop-Pop, Nancy, Uncle Charles and Aunt Betty.

These three men helped to mold my early life  and were protective of me. I knew I could trust and always count on them. I thought I would never need another man in my life… until the day my mom forgot school was closing early. I was a first grader at Holy Cross School and still hadn’t worked myself up to speak to anyone in my class.

Sister Mary Something dismissed us and I wandered outside to discover no one waiting. Neither Mom nor Pop-Pop was outside leaning against the church railing at our meeting spot. I stood and watched as the other children went home. It was the day I decided nuns were scarier than men.

Instead of going back in the school, I walked to the end of the block where the Buchman Brothers had their  men’s clothing store. It was the only place Dad shopped.  The four Buchman brothers were surprised to see me alone in their shop. I gathered my courage and told them I couldn’t find my mother. They immediately sprang into action. After I was given a Coke – a Coke and it wasn’t even Sunday! – one of the brothers found our number and was about to call when a man walked in.

“Problem solved,” said one of the brothers. I sipped from my Coke. “Here’s your cousin Fran. He can run you home.” All  the brothers looked pleased they had solved the problem.

Fran? I didn’t know any man named Fran. It had taken every last nerve I had to speak to these men whom I’d known all my life and saw nearly every Saturday morning.  “No,” I finally said. “I’m not allowed to talk to strangers.”

FullSizeRender (21)
L-R: Daddy, me, Pop-Pop, cousin Fran, Mom, and my sister Stacy.

They patted me on the head and told me what a smart girl I was and called my mother. She came full of apologies for being late and I even scored a second Coke. Later that evening my new-found cousin Fran {who was married to my cousin Nancy Norton} came by our house. He wanted to make sure we were properly introduced . By the time I was in second grade I was plotting how to get more soft drinks out of the Buchman Brothers. But that’s a story for another day.


So, in this month when we honor our dads and all the special men in our lives, I remember these wonderful, honorable men who I was fortunate enough to have in my life.  I hope each of you have been as fortunate.


Dear Reader, Have you ever had a fear you needed to conquer?  Do you have a special dad, grandfather, uncle in your life? Please share your story with me.



15 Thoughts

  1. Lovely stories, Kim – you were blessed with these protectors. As I wrote on Fb on Sunday, my father was a shy intellectual, a writer of long typed letters, a teacher and reader, a man whose beaming smile made you know you were loved. I always felt cared for and supported.

  2. I love this story, Kim. We only got Pepsi on Sunday when I was a kid. My father was so funny. If you asked him, “Guess what?” He’d answer, “Dead horse in the bathtub?” I have no idea where that came from, but he was always telling jokes and making us laugh.

    1. I love that and I’m going to say that the next time my son says “guess what?” My dad told stupid jokes that I didn’t understand understand until I was an adult.

  3. My dad, fount of useless knowledge (except when playing Trivial Pursuit) and always to be counted on for a groaner of a “dad joke.”

    My grandfather, a little spitfire of a man, who was a medic in the 1st Armored Division in WWII, worked 30 years in the steel mill, took me riding on his motorcycle, shared his Pringles, bullied my mother into letting me get a double piercing in my ears, told funny stories, and taught me how to plant a vegetable garden.

  4. I love how you scored all those Cokes! The Buchman Brothers didn’t know who they were up against.

    My dad and uncles, and his friends, were all cowboys. Salt of the earth kind of men, and they stuck together to help out one another. Years and years after I moved away, I went home to visit and one of my dad’s cowboy friends heard I was in town. He was an excellent cook and sent over some roasted rabbit because he remembered I liked it. I had not seen this man in decades!

    1. The Buchmans always had a Coke ready for me forever after. I’ve never eaten rabbit, so I’ll have to take your word for it. My dad’s partner on the force would bring us Polish Bow ties that his mom made every Christmas. They were delicious!

  5. While I’m sure it was scary at the time, I’m smiling at how everything turned out, including your cousin coming to introduce himself that night. You were a very smart girl, and the men who owned that store were also smart for going ahead and calling your mother even though they knew Fran really was your cousin.

    1. What’s really funny is my mom’s name is also Fran, so this man named Fran just blew my mind! He was a really nice guy and would stop frequently at our house after this incident.

  6. When I was 10 and my sister was 8 we went to florida to see our dad who we hadn’t seen in 3 years. We ended up staying for 6 months with my dad and stepmom, Stephanie. Stephanie’s father was Grandpa Sabol, he had served in the military. While we were in Florida for those 6 months, he adopted us. Every Saturday he would take us to the beach. We lived in Oakland Park, Florida near Fort Lauderdale. We would go to the beach and after we left the beach we would go to McDonalds. My sister and I loved Grandpa Sabol. We would spend Saturday nights with him and his wife, Grandma (Marianne) Sabol and stay up and watch Creature Feature with Grandma. Grandpa would take us home on Sunday afternoons. Those were such good times. He really wasn’t a Grandpa by blood but he was the best Grandpa. We were treated just like grandkids by both him and Grandma. It was the best of times.

    Thanks for reviving my childhood memories of being loved and taken care of. Lovely post.

    1. I agree, they don’t have to be blood related to rock the job. My mother’s second husband was the only grandfather my sons knew, and they adored Grandpa Fred. I’m so glad they had that time with him.

  7. They were tall and thin and rather terrifying. Near the end of my first grade year, the principal, also a nun, had a bit of a breakdown and set the convent kitchen on fire. Who wouldn’t be afraid of them?!

Comments are closed.