This happened to us, in Sigourney, Iowa, somewhere around 1963. It was a cold winter morning with snow on the ground. Our young children were dressed, fed, and waiting for time to leave for Elementary school. Andy, our youngest wasn’t old enough for school yet. We were all in our living room together when the doorbell rang. Jim opened it, listened to the man there, and invited him in. They were sitting and talking when the children at the front window were looking out and got all excited, telling us that the police car was coming down the street. Then louder they yelled, “and he’s stopping here”. I was getting nervous at that point because I knew that there had to be a problem somewhere if he was coming this early in the morning. Then they yelled that he was coming to our door.
Sigourney was a relatively small town (the whole county was about 1800 population at the time). We pretty much knew most of they people and Jim was the minister of the Presbyterian Church there so the majority if not all, knew us. Jim went to the door and the officer, said something to Jim and Jim said yes he thought he should take this man. That also surprised me. So the middle aged (maybe in his 60’s) policeman led the man to the police car and was helping him into the back seat, when the man broke away and ran off in the snow. The Policeman ran after him for about half a block, and then yelled “halt or I’ll shoot”. The man turned around with his hands in the air and said, “ you wouldn’t shoot me. I’m Jesus Christ”. But he let the policeman take him back and settle him in the car. They drove away.
We sent the children off to school. I asked Jim about why he told the police to take the man, because usually Jim did everything he could to help anyone who came for help. Jim said there was obviously something wrong with the fellow mentally.
An hour or so later we got a phone call for the police department. They said that earlier they had asked the man to leave town and followed way behind to make sure he did. The officer saw him go into our home. After they got back to the station, the put him in a cell and checked him out. They were told he was an escaped mental patient from Alabama and very dangerous without his meds which he did not have with him. The Alabama authorities had been searching for him and would send some one to bring him back. They told us to be careful, because if the man did get out he would come right back to our home. Now that was a bit of a concern for us.
Nothing else happened as far as we were concerned. Later we were told that the irony of the story was that the policeman had cancer somewhere in the area of his hip. Because the gun in holster hurt his hip, he had it locked his gun in the glove compartment of the car and couldn’t have shot the man. Thank goodness, or rather thank God, the man had heeded the warning to stop or this might have had a different ending.
Mental illness is sad but it does happen, and some of these people can be dangerous,especially without the meds that help them. I was so happy the man didn’t get angry when our children were so excited that the policeman was coming to our home.
This is one of several unusual happenings in our lives that I will relate in the coming days.This picture is in the living room of the manse.Mike and Andy in front, and Debby,me, Jim Jr. and Peter in back