Theft

Coleridge 1949

I found out when I was nine years old that I could swipe a bag of large cherry soft candies from the grocery store near the far end of the block past the dentist and the barber. Just by standing next to the checkout counter, I could slip a bag into my rather large pocket of my winter coat with the big pockets, and then eat them all myself when I got home. I didn’t do this often, but when I did I felt very adventurous and smart.

Stealing ‘things’ did not work out so well. Later when I lived in Colorado and was visiting my uncle before going to church camp, I stole an old watch out of his dresser drawer in his bedroom. The problem with this theft was I could never wear it in public and I didn’t know exactly how to wind or set it. Maybe it was guilt and maybe it was that I didn’t want to get caught with stolen merchandise. Stealing my friends holster would work out because I was moving to Colorado, but I didn’t know kids in Fort Collins didn’t play cowboys, fast draw, or any kind of shooting games. There was some, but it was more war related. Marbles turned out to be more important than guns.

When I stole candy at Steel’s Grocery next to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Fort Collins, I got caught. The manager said he knew the Denver Post newsboys pilfered his candy and he was putting a stop to it. Nothing further happened and I was glad the Denver Post newsboys got the blame (I delivered the Fort Collins Coloradoan newspaper.) I liked to go into Steel’s because the lady who made donuts with the donut machine was a customer of my route and she gave me free donuts. So I stopped stealing from them.

Money was an easier thing to steal and more useful. I stole money from the collection plate at church when I was an acolyte. I stole money from my mother; from a box high in her closet when she was in another town teaching. I don’t know why she had a shoebox of change in her closet. I knew she put out cans for the annual Cerebral Palsy telethon, because my brother, Donald had CP, but why it was in her closet was a mystery and a quick source of funds if needed.

I don’t know how much of this was related to father issues, or to being in a fatherless family (but with many father figures in my life) or what. Certainly it was only barely related to need. I had a paper route and I shoveled snow for old ladies in the neighborhood, so I had money. I eventually grew out of stealing other people’s stuff.

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