It all happened this first week in January, when I had just finished supper dishes and walked into the living room. As soon as I got past the doorway, I noticed a picture on the shelf by George’s chair. I thought it was just a picture in a folded up newspaper. Immediately I said, “George, the guy in that picture looks just like your brother, Jerry.”
And by then, I was close enough to pick it up. It wasn’t a newspaper, it was just a picture of his brother, Jerry. Neither of us knew how it could have gotten there. It was one of those small 2 by 3 inch, black and white, individually posed school pictures. And it had the words, “School Days 57-58” on it. It had been taken when he was a freshman in high school at Elm Valley (now known as Buckeye Valley).
If you had ever seen him then, you would have noticed that one of his eyes was different from the other. That’s because not long before that picture was taken, he had lost his right eye. It happened when he had been making some Christmas decorations in their basement. He found a can of artificial snow, but he couldn’t get it to spray. So, he put it next to the big old coal furnace, thinking it would work if he warmed it up. However, when he picked up the can, it was too hot to hold, so he dropped it. When it hit the floor, it exploded and came back up and hit him in the face. This terrible accident caused him to lose his right eye.
How could it have happened that this old picture appeared on the shelf by George’s chair, without us knowing it? But, there it was, in complete sight! After we kept saying the same things over and over, we realized that we had a mystery on our hands. Because of the bitter cold, snow and ice, I hadn’t left the house, nor had anyone else come in the house, for several days. When we asked our daughter about it, she had no idea of how it could have gotten in our house, either.
You already know from the title of this article that we still haven’t solved the mystery as to how it got here. After writing the above paragraphs, I got the idea I should look through my old photo albums to see if we have one exactly like it. And sure enough, I found another one just like the one that appeared on the shelf. But, the one we found on the shelf, has “Jerry Conklin, 9th, Elm Valley” written in his own handwriting on the back. However, the one I found in an old album has nothing at all written on the back. The plot thickens!
Jerry didn’t have an easy life. As a pre-schooler, he was severely electrocuted when he touched a live electric line that had been knocked down. Then as a freshman in high school, he lost his right eye. And then in 1975, when he was only 33 years old, he died of cancer. That was when the cancer research was trying to see if cancer cells would die if they were exposed to the outside air. Therefore, while he was a patient at a Columbus hospital, they tested it out on him by opening wounds on the upper part of his arm. That procedure caused him more pain and suffering, but didn’t cure anything!
Jerry was married and had a son, Rick, and a daughter, Connie. (Rick was our nephew who was killed in the motorcycle accident I have written about in a previous article.) Jerry always played Santa Claus for the village, and was a member of Masons and Eastern Stars. He was also a volunteer fireman, and was the youngest of George’s three brothers.
Often, when anyone first saw his artificial eye, they would say, “It looks good!” Then he would say to them, “It doesn’t look at all.” He was a sweetheart.
Over the years we’ve all had things disappear from our homes. If they are never found, we can just chalk it up to the fact that they must have accidentally been thrown out with the trash. However, when something appears in our homes, without knowing where it came from, or how it got here, that’s another story.
Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.