Monday, February 02, 2015

One of the neighborhood child molesters died last week ...

The house where I lived was torn down (foreground) ...
the back of the house in the background was where
the 'love shack' was.

Gumdrop... RIP

Last evening, for some odd reason, I looked up the local obituaries online.  I used to get the newspaper and that was pretty much the only feature I read. I cancelled the newspaper, because I get my news online, and eventually lost interest in the obits.  So it was kind of out of the blue that I decided to read the obituaries last night, only to discover that one of the more well known neighborhood fruitcakes died last week.  I can't use his name because I'm not sure how public his reputation was, he was 76 years old when he died in a nursing facility.  I'll call him Gumdrop - a name the neighborhood girls gave to him.

He never molested me - I think he was more interested in girls.  He was creepy looking, skinny, badly dressed, unfortunate facial features, big eyes, weak chin, a leer rather than a smile, premature balding, and a little hunched over.  I specifically recall seeing him once on the playground when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade, and he was selling Catholic religious medals.  He had a salesman's case and everything.  I was so excited and ran over to look at the medals.  My sister ran over, pulled me away and told me never to go near him.  (I have a feeling he was after my sister and maybe used me to bait her.)  Much later, in middle school and in a new neighborhood, my new friends all knew about him too.

Gumdrop was one of many molesters on the East side of St. Paul.  One heard stories of men pulling over to expose themselves to girls, invite them into the car to pet his puppy, and so on.  We knew some girls were molested, but no one ever seemed to report it.  Some of the boys occasionally hitchhiked from one end of town to the other, and bragged about the blow-jobs.  They weren't gay either - several were the tough-hood types, the ones the more slutty-girls often chased.

Everyone knew who the fruitcakes were, and parents warned kids to stay away from them.  Some were 'queers' others were simply referred to as 'fruity'.  My parents warned me and my brother and sister to stay away from this or that creepy guy.  Why?  As my dad once said, 'he's a g-d d-n fruit, that's why!'

It seems incomprehensible to modern ears that the police weren't always called, or suspicious fruitcakes weren't at least taken in for questioning.  I don't know why that was.  No one mentioned these things except to warn.  It may explain why we today accuse the Church of cover up when it came to fruitcake priests.  Yet that is how things were back then.  That was in the day when it was still shameful for unmarried girls to get pregnant, and when they did - they were mysteriously sent away - to have the baby or do something about it - only to return as if nothing happened.  Another interesting note is that girls were said to have gotten themselves pregnant:  "She went and got herself pregnant."  People today would never accept such language.  Imagine a girl being responsible for an unwanted pregnancy?  Or an abortion?

Anyway - so all of these memories came flooding back last night.  I prayed for Gumdrop and the others.  But it didn't get rid of the haunted feelings, the flood of memories.  I still couldn't go to sleep.

I once looked up another neighborhood molester - the creepy guy next door, whom my parents actually befriended afterwards!  I know!  This guy now lives at the same exact address my family did when we first moved to St. Paul.  It was a different neighborhood, and it was there that I was first molested by another neighbor - and now, that other perpetrator lives there.  That just seems so strangely ironic to me.

Laying awake, I went through all of those mental archives, spilled out like files all over the room, and I spent the entire sleepless night trying to put them all back in order, noting things I hadn't paid much attention to before, praying.  I counted almost half a dozen pervs in my one neighborhood - the last neighborhood I lived with my parents - before I ran away.  Gumdrop never lived there, he just wandered through - roaming the territory.  As for resident-pervs, there was one guy who had a corner store - a lot of guys hung out there - not many knew he was gay.  Then there was the florist - as well as a counselor at the community center - few knew they were gay.  Then of course, the guy(s) next door.  One of the guys just demonstrated masturbation for the boys.  Another exposed himself in the 'picture window' - to women passers-by.  The most well known perv had a 'love shack' shed which he used as an art studio - he also supplied booze and cigarettes, and of course, fellatio.

Overall, last night was a very creepy night.

I have nothing edifying or spiritual to say about it.

Song for this post here.


  1. Although my past was much different, it was certainly troubled. I too have haunting memories that sometimes come back out of the box I put them in. I sometimes consider the faculty, memory. I am grateful at times for the fact it fades, that episodes can be forgotten or become fuzzy. Only a fool would want to live forever in this world with all their memories perfectly intact. The consequences of the Fall of Man, such as loss of memory, are sometimes blessings in disguise.

  2. Strange -- the name gumdrop. When I was very little I had a dream about a gumdrop monster who chased me. He got into the shower and melted. My older sister said when we were little the two of us were lured into some neighborhood guy's house and molested. I have no memory of it at all, but perhaps that was the source of my "gumdrop monster" dream. Gumdrops do seem to be a strange thing to associate with evil, but perhaps he gave us gumdrops. Life is certainly a challenge.

    1. My sister has no memory of her experiences either - which really is a blessing. She devoted herself to her children and I think that was healing in itself. Occasionally she has had scary dreams though.

  3. Terry, first I am so sorry that stuff happened to you.

    Secondly, where the hell did you grow up..the Hellmouth???

    That story about Gumdrop is as creepy as hell. No wonder he was running around selling religious medals...that sounds like something out of Stephen King novel.

    Your thing about the cops and notifications...reminded me in high school we would do laps around the neighborhood..we had a co-ed class in Junior or Senior year. One guy..we called him Toby (I have no idea if that is his real name) would stand at his screen door and expose himself to us. We thought it was funny (as we werent little kids and there was no way he was going to approach us) and yell at him, "Yo Carol needs a date Toby" Nowdays there would be this massive thing where the school would lock down and we would be forced to go to counseling...but I think now that I am older, what if Toby wasnt just a harmless perv but something more dangerous to younger kids..I just hope that wasnt so and it was our lame brain goading which made him put on his shows...scary world.

    Sorry, not trying to make a joke out of your experiences. Just weird that so much was going on in that area.

    1. You wouldn't believe the stories I haven't told. I had one really pure friend - I should say, our group did. He was like a saint. The entire neighborhood respected him. Sadly he went to the seminary, left and got married outside the Church. The seminaries did a lot of damage in those days.

  4. There's a lot for a heart to ponder in this post. Thanks.

    I appreciate that there is a mercy in how you write about these guys, especially given you were a victim. The general consensus seems to be that if there is one thing that justifies treating someone as irredeemable, subhuman trash it's their being a molester. I had a chance about ten years ago to get to know fairly well a couple guys who did time for molestation and another who repeatedly perpetrated incest (I don't think he was ever arrested). Given the nature of the crimes, it's a legitimate use of state power to protect children and society at large from these guys. Of course it is. But on the human level, it's shocking to witness such true brokenness. The things these guys did were monstrous in an objective sense, but they were no monsters. They were sad, broken, self-hating men who lived their lives unloved and alienated from God and His Truth. When I got to know them, they were taking baby steps toward the light, but, man, is that a long journey. I'm thinking of the guy with the love shack and I'm trying to imagine what it's like to get to a place where you're compelled to bribe neighborhood boys with booze and cigarettes so they'll let you humiliate yourself like that. How heartbreaking.

    The potential for perversion is in every one of us. Without a source of infinite, divine love, every thing will end in brutality eventually.


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