This is one of those family stories that I loved to hear over and over through the years. I asked my mom Frieda if she would share it with you. Enjoy!
When Hal and I had been married about a year (1962), we drove from where we lived in Oklahoma to Long Beach, California, to visit my Uncle Grady and his family for about a month. Uncle Grady was a Southern Baptist pastor, and he had invited Hal to preach in a lot of churches. My uncle and aunt and cousin lived in a small two-bedroom, one-bathroom frame house. There was a whole suburb of almost identical houses of the type built right after World War II. The garages were free-standing behind the houses in the back yards. As the family often had invited guests, Uncle Grady turned the garage into a bedroom, and that is where we slept when we stayed with them.
One evening at bed time, Hal started for the garage bedroom while I was still in the bathroom brushing my teeth before going out to bed. When he stepped out the back door, he saw a big man standing outside my cousin’s bedroom window, peering between the curtains. As he told me later, he yelled and took off running after the man, whom he describes as being about six feet tall and weighing some 200 pounds. (After hearing Hal’s side of the story for nearly fifty years, it only recently occurred to me to ask him what he would have done had he caught the guy.) The man crashed through the neighbor’s back yard fence, across the yard out to the sidewalk, and kept running. Hal was close behind him, continuing to scream at the top of his strong evangelistic voice, thinking someone would come to help him. At the end of the block, the man jumped in a car and sped away before Hal could catch him.
Hal turned around, expecting to see lights on in all the houses and people rushing out to see what was happening. What he saw was a perfectly quiet street with dark houses and not a soul in sight.
When Hal came back in the house, I was still standing rooted to the spot with my toothbrush in my hand. It seemed to him he had been gone a very long time, but in the house we just heard a blood-curdling scream that started at the back door and went down the block. I don’t really know what I thought, but I was paralyzed with fright. My aunt and uncle and cousin, like me, just stood wherever they were in the house terrified. Hal couldn’t believe everyone just stood around and no one tried to help him. When things calmed down, Uncle Grady said all he could think was, “Frieda’s husband has lost his mind right here at my house—what’ll I ever do?”
We reported the incident to the police, and they came and made a report. Their helpful advice was, “It is better not to shoot anyone unless he is actually inside your house, but if you did shoot him in the yard, you should drag him in the house before you call the police.”