Sometimes, things that happened years and years ago surprisingly pop back into your head.
That happened to me yesterday. The situation I thought of happened about 15 years ago, just as I walked out the front door of the bank on North Sandusky Street in downtown Delaware. I was about three steps out onto the sidewalk when a young woman approached me.
When I first saw her, I thought she was one of the OWU students from my days of working there. She was very well dressed and seemed happy to see me. However, when she got closer, I knew I had never met her before.
Immediately, she told me her story. She said she needed $25 more in order to get a room at the motel (the old Campbell House on South Sandusky Street) so she and her two young children could stay inside for that night. (Otherwise, they would have to sleep in her car.) And that her mother was going to be in Delaware the next morning (after driving here from Florida) and would give her the money she needed. I remember that it happened during the week between Christmas and New Year’s.
As she talked, she kept glancing across the street at a light-colored parked car that was facing south.
I have never had a stranger ask me for money before, so I wasn’t sure how to handle it. She said she needed to find a person who looked like someone she could trust. (I think that meant that I wouldn’t yell at her for even asking.)
I believed her story, so I gave her the money. She asked me where I lived so that she could mail it back to me, but I said, “No, that’s not necessary.”
Then things changed. She asked me where I was going. I pointed to the antique store a couple of doors down. And that’s when she said she would like to go there with me. That’s when I decided that if she had two children waiting alone in her car, the first thing she should do is to go check on them. I didn’t see her glance across the street again. But there was no stopping her, so when we got to the antique store, I opened the door and she followed me in. She said she needed to see if they had shoes that would fit her son. And right away we saw some high-top infant baby shoes on top of one of the cases. As soon as she picked them up, I said that I had to run, so I left without looking back. My car was up the street, facing north, so I knew she couldn’t follow me. I never met up with her again.
I have always wondered if her story was true. Or was she going to ask me for more money? Or did she really have two children who may have been in that car?
I’ll never know, but I can always be glad that if it was true, she and her children didn’t have to sleep in her car that cold December night.
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.