Friday, March 04, 2011

Stull #9

The Stanton County Historical Society was located in the old Carneigie Library.  It had been been there since 1979 when the new library was built.  Frank, Matt and Katie walked in and began to look at some of the artifacts in cases against the wall.

"Any questions?" asked a man who appeared out of nowhere.

"Not about anything out here.  I'm Frank York from the Rock Creek Township Historical Society.  This is Katie Anderson and Matt Stull.  Do you recall seeing an old book about the founding of Stull?" Frank asked.

"A book?  About the founding of Stull?" the man repeated then crooked his finger around his chin.  "It doesn't ring a bell but this is only a percentage of stuff we have.  If it's not out here and we have it then it may be upstairs."

"Can we look?" Frank asked.

The man shrugged.  "Sure.  Follow me."  They all walked to a staircase that was blocked off by a rope.  The man unhooked it and led the three up the stairs to the second floor.  "It's not very organized up here so if we do have the book, it could be anywhere."

All three gasped when they saw the disorganized mess.  Shelves were packed full of artifacts, boxes were stacked up, lining the walls.  "And I thought our storage space was full of crap..." Matt whispered to Frank.

"Feel free to look around.  Take your time.  I will be downstairs in my office," the man said.

The man left and the three split up to cover separate areas of the second floor.  Frank took the shelves, Katie took the back shelves where oversized items were placed and Matt took the boxes near the staircase.

"On the plus side we may find something really cool up here," Frank said.

"All the stuff up here is junk.  Old cigar boxes have nothing to do with the history of Stanton County," Katie pulled one of the two dozen boxes off of the shelf and showed Frank.

"It's from Baylor Brothers though.  They were a cigar factory in Delia from 1891 until 1942," Frank said.

"Still.  A few cigar boxes, fine.  Two dozen is too many."

"I'll admit that it looks like they just take donated stuff because they don't want to hurt feelings but still it is all history," Frank picked up a small box from a shelf. He read the top then opened the box and saw two massive brown pills. "Ew. Suppository?"

"No, thanks. I'm good."

A couple hours passed and the three went through only a small area of the shelves and boxes. Frank was even taking the time to rearrange the shelves and make them look more orderly. Frank's phone started to ring and it was a number he didn't recognize. "Hello?" he answered.

"Is this Frank York?"


"I'm a nurse at Stanton County Regional Medical Center and you were listed as a contact person for Judith Lawrence."

"I was?"

"She was admitted this morning. It appears she's had a stroke."

"I'll be there in a little bit. Thank you."

"What's wrong?" Matt appeared from around the shelf.

"Judith is in the hospital. She's had a stroke."

Frank arrived at the hospital and was directed to Judith's room where nurses and doctors were still evaluating her. "How's she doing?"

The doctor turned toward Frank. "And you are?"

"Frank York. I received a phone call..."

"Ah, yes. Ms. Lawrence is up and talking but it's clear she's had a pretty big stroke. She is paralyzed on the right side and her speech is slurred. We'll keep an eye on her to see if that goes away. She will probably be here a couple more days, Mr. York."

"Okay. Can I talk to her?"

"Sure. Let us just get out of her way. We'll be back in a few minutes, Ms. Lawrence."

The doctor and nurses left the room. "'A few minutes'. That means we have a good forty minutes or so alone," Frank laughed. "Why am I your contact person?"

"Because," Judith's speech was slurred and only the left side of her mouth moved. "I have no one else. My husband and son died 40 years ago, my sister died a couple months ago and my nephew is in prison."

"I didn't know you had a nephew...who is in prison," Frank said.

"White collar. He'll be out in three years," Judith pshawed. "I'm sorry to bother you. I know you were probably busy."

"Matt, Katie and I were at the county museum looking for the Stull book. We were looking at all the junk on the second floor that's not being displayed. Some is really interesting but, like I said, a lot of it is junk."

"Never underestimate the power of junk. I'm feeling a little tired so if you don't mind, I'm going to take a nap before they all come back and start poking me with stuff again," Judith said.

"Okay. I will just sit over here..." Frank pointed at a chair on the other side of the room.

"No. You can go back to the museum. I'm just going to rest. You need to find that book. Besides, if I'm going to leave my estate to the Rock Creek Historical Society, I need to make sure the owner is a hard worker."

"Your estate? You don't have to do that," Frank said.

"But I am. What else am I going to do with it? I can't take it with me. Part of it will go to you, the other to another charity. Right now I have down the Humane Society of Tontzville..." her speech trailed off.

"You rest, Judith. I'll see you tomorrow."

Katie and Matt had searched through a good portion of the second floor at the museum and found nothing relating to the book.  Frank returned and staked out a corner that looked untouched.

"How is she?" asked Katie.

Frank shrugged.  "She seems fine but the way she looked.  She looked very pale and her eyes were very dark and glazed over.  It was kind of creepy."

"Is she going to be all right?" Katie asked.

"I think so.  The doctor seemed hopeful anyway.  I talked to them after she fell asleep.  So no sign of the book?"

"Maybe it doesn't exist!" Matt said.

"But people in your family remember seeing it--remember reading it!" Frank exclaimed.  "There has got to be a copy somewhere."

"If there is, it's not here," Katie sighed.  "I don't think we should even finish looking."

"No.  We're going to keep looking.  If you two want to go, you can," Frank said and began looking again.

Matt and Katie stood still for awhile then resumed searching in their previous areas.

It was after one thirty in the morning when Frank's cell phone rang.  In the dark, he fumbled around for it before finally answering it.  "Hello?"

"Mr. York?  This is Dr. Rebe from Stanton County Regional.  Ms. Lawrence has had another stroke and I'm afraid this one was pretty serious.  We did what we could but she didn't make it."

"Okay," Frank nodded.  "Should I come down there?"

"You can come down in the morning and release the body to the funeral home of your choice if you want.  I'm sorry, Mr. York."

"Thank you," Frank said and hung up.  Frank got out of bed and turned on his computer.  When it finished booting, he opened a word processing document and began to type and he didn't stop until the sun started coming up.  He then saved the file, shut down the computer and got dressed to go to the hospital.

Frank, Matt and Katie investigate an old house in Swissvale and learn what they have inherited from Judith.