Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Gruesome and OtherThings From My Childhood

Because I just had a birthday, I've been thinking back about my past. Most of the memories have been pleasant--but not all.

I grew up in Los Angeles and we got two morning newspapers and one in the evening. I remember one of the papers covered all the sensational news that was going on, murders and movie stars that weren't behaving themselves.

I've always had a fascination with mystery books and when I was a kid, I listened to all the mystery radio programs. My sister and I had a little portable radio that for some unknown reason picked up radio calls at night. We loved to listen to them, though we weren't supposed to. One night while we listened, he heard the police talking about a woman's body they'd found in a vacant lot and that she'd been hacked up. They described what they'd found in vivid detail. It was the Black Dahlia. Needless to say, sis and I both had nightmares.

One day when I was riding to downtown L.A. by myself (yes, my mother let me traipse all over the place by myself), I saw a dead body lying in a pool of blood right outside the open door of a bar.

During the war years, one of our neighbors' son hung himself in the garage. People only talked about that in hushed tones.

The young woman across the street married a Navy Surgeon and her mother bragged about it all over the neighborhood. One day they came home to visit, as it turned out, the Navy Surgeon wasn't one at all. He turned out to be one of those imposters and he was found out, we turned the lights off in the house and watched as the authorities chased him all over the hillside. Yes, they did catch him, but I don't really remember the details.

One of the worst memories I have is from the newsreels, horrible things being done by Japanese soldiers to the Chinese people--and the people in the German prison camps. I was a kid when I saw those, but I remember them vividly.

One Sunday evening I came home from church alone, my parents had stayed. I went into the house and headed for the bathroom. When I was looking in the mirror at myself, someone ran down the hall. Scared me. I went after the person hollering after him. Dumb. Have no idea what I would have done. He went out the back door. I sat on the front porch till my parents came home. Why I thought that was safer I have no idea.

Once I was babysitting the kids of the policeman and his wife who lived two doors up the street. They told me about the gun they had in a drawer. Someone tried to get it, rattled the door. I got the gun and shouted, "I've got a gun and I'll shoot you."
I was about twelve. I had no idea how to shoot it. I called my dad, after he put his clothes on he came up but couldn't find anyone around.

That's all I can remember. I'm sure there was more, but no doubt all this had an influence on me loving to read mysteries and writing them.

Marilyn, feeling nostalgic.



Morgan Mandel said...

That certainly explains your fascination with mysteries. Wow!

And some people would say you could have been scarred for life. Seems all these events led to something really great in your life.

Morgan Mandel

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Definitely not scarred for life.

All fodder for my imagination.


Jean Henry Mead said...


I also grew up in Los Angeles when it was safe to ride the streetcars to Long Beach and walk around downtown LA with my friends. I also remember the Black Dahlia murder, which they filmed not long ago, and read all the gory details of the sensational murders. That definitely influenced the direction my writing took, and I worked as a police reporter for a number of years.

Dana Fredsti said...

I remember being fascinated by that case as a kid... pretty much all things morbid fascinated me, except when they had to do with hurting animals. I'm a big wuss that way.

Cat Connor said...

What a fabulous ground work for writing mysteries! :-)