While growing up, we never locked the doors to my mother’s house. In fact, none of us even owned a house key. Coming from a big family, it seemed pointless to lock the door, especially when we knew someone would be entering or exiting at any given moment. Guests would marvel at the traffic flow at her front door. It seemed as soon as someone left the house, somebody else would enter. They said that our house reminded them of Grand Central Station and that she should install a revolving door.
Shortly after I’d moved out, somebody broke into my mother's house. Actually more like walked in. Luckily no one was home at the time of the burglary and the burglar, finding little of value, escaped with a jar of coins and some of my mother’s costume jewelry. Her neighbors were in a state of panic. “How could this happen on Union Avenue?” They asked. The telephone lines burned as they called one another with news of the break in at Kay's (my mother) house. With the criminal still on the loose, the neighbors agreed to form a block watch and that everybody should be on the lookout for suspicious looking characters.
A few days after the robbery, I called my mother to check up on her. She said that she was still a little shaken and that she no longer felt the same sense of security. Now living alone for the first time in her life, she decided to start locking the doors. After days of searching junk drawers, she finally found the key to the front door. She then went to the hardware store to had copies made. She told me to drop by and she would give me one of the new keys.
My washing machine was broken, so the next day, I filled a big blue and white striped laundry bag with clothes from our hamper and headed across town to my mother’s house. When I pulled up, I noticed that somebody new had moved in next door in the house that once belonged to my grandfather. I pulled the laundry bag from the back seat of my Honda Civic and headed up the sidewalk to the front door. I instinctively twisted the doorknob and pushed, forgetting that my mother had started locking her doors. I knocked several times but nobody answered. I then remembered that she said she was going to the beauty salon and then morning mass with her friends.
I wouldn't be deterred, so I walked around to the rear of the house, dragging my overstuffed laundry bag, and tried opening the door to the family room. Again the door was locked. Surely, I thought, the cellar hatchway will be open, but pull as I might, it just wouldn’t budge. I then I had a brainstorm. I knew that if locking doors was something new to my mother, she probably hadn’t even begun to think about locking the windows. I congratulated myself for my brilliance, then climbed on top of a row of trash barrels and pushed the family room window open.
I momentarily thought of how my actions might look to my mother’s neighbors but then I figured that they'd known me all my life and that they would probably recognize me.
When I was half way through the window, I thought of the new next-door neighbor. They didn’t know me. Perhaps I should have gone over and introduced myself before climbing in the window. Too late now, I was already in the family room. I next grabbed the pull strings to my laundry bag and walked down to the basement and began doing my laundry.
After pouring the detergent into the machine, I heard the sound of squealing tires sliding on the pavement in front of the house. I walked back upstairs to see what all the commotion was about. As I peered out the front window, I saw what looked like two unmarked police cars parked at strange angles out front. Instantly, there was pounding on the front door.
It was “ The Fuzz!”
I opened the door to find a West Haven detective, his gun drawn and ready. He gave me a hard stare.
“I was afraid this might happen.” I said.
“You were, huh?...What are you doing in here?
“Laundry!” I answered.
I went on to explain that this was my mother’s house, and how we never locked the doors growing up and that I hadn’t gotten my new key yet and . . .I could tell that detective only half believed me. He raised his hand, as if to say STOP, pushed the button on his radio, and said . . .“Jimmy get in here!”
My brother Jimmy (then a West Haven detective) came running into the house from the back door. He also had his gun drawn.
“What the #$&*@ are you doing?!?! He demanded.
“Laundry,” I said. “The doors were all locked, so I climbed in the back window.”
“You’re an #*@$%&!!!” He shouted.
Jimmy then had to radio his desk sergeant with a report. The desk sergeant that day just happened to be my brother John.
“Yeah, it’s Bobby!” Jimmy said. “He wanted to do his laundry and the doors were locked so he climbed in the window out back.”
“What an #*$%@&!” John said.
It turns out that the new next-door neighbor just happened to look out her kitchen window and saw me prowling around outside. She then called Irene, another neighbor. Irene looked out her window and apparently didn't recognize my rump as it climbed through the window. They called the police immediately.
As they say, the rest is history! This story is now Union Avenue legend.