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Monday, 04 October 2010

Intruders – Cops and Robbers

By William Weatherstone of The Diesel Gypsy

It was the end of July 1964, in Toronto’s east side, about a week after returning from our honeymoon trip. (By truck.) It was a Thursday night about 10:30PM and I was getting ready for a third run to Montreal this week. I had the loaded truck sitting in the grocery store parking lot across the street, ready to go.

I think it would be better to give you a description of the location so as to understand this incident a little better.

It was near the corner of Dawes Road and Danforth Avenue in Toronto’s east side. We had a small four-room apartment above a clothing store. Our front door was recessed in beside the store entrance, with showcase windows on both sides.

There was no door window or peephole. You entered, and went directly upstairs into the kitchen, then faced a rear window overlooking the flat store roof. We had a couple clotheslines strung up out there also. Over the edge was about a 10 – 12 foot drop down to the back alley. There were no lights of any sort at the rear of the building, nor in the alley. It was pitch dark.

Off to the left was the second floor of the hardware store with no windows. Then to the right, in the next building, was a finance company and next to that was Dawes Road. Directly across the street were two well-used taverns.

It was just before 11:00PM and I said my goodbyes to my wife, Muriel, and my mother who was staying with us for a time until her things were shipped into Toronto and set up in her new apartment.

They locked up and went to bed shortly after I left. Just after midnight, mom was awakened by some noises coming through the back window which at the time was open to disburse the summer heat. She heard what sounded like someone using a crowbar, pulling nails.

She immediately went in to get Muriel up. She awoke to find mom standing beside the bed in the dark, holding my 18-inch butcher knife in one hand and my two-pound ball peen hammer in the other hand.

She whispered to Muriel to get up and told her that some one is on the roof and trying to get in next door.

Muriel held the weapons while mom called the police. They remembered the kitchen window being open, (no screen, for climbing in and out with the laundry). They then stood one on each side of the window with weapons in hand waiting for something to happen.

Just then, a banging came to the front door; mom went to the top of the stairs and yelled, “WHO IS IT?”

“It’s the police, let us in.”

Mom answered, go to hell. If you are the cops, get your asses around the back and get those guys off our roof. You are not coming in the front door if I cannot see who you are.

She came back to Muriel and with one on each side of the window, stood there ready to take on any intruder.

A chase ensued across the top of the roof and there was screaming and yelling going on like crazy. The two guys trying to cut their way into the finance company were finally nailed and cuffed.

Knife and hammer still ready for anything, Muriel whispered to mom that there were two shadows coming towards our window. One called out, “Are you ladies still there?”

They did not answer.

“You phoned the cops, we are coming in.”

Thinking it was still the burglars, as the first cop put his head through the window, mom stuck the BIG BUTCHER KNIFE in front of his face and Muriel held the steel hammer over his head. He was in plain cloths, and yelling, “NO, NO, we are the police.”

The uniformed cop threw in his police hat for a quick ID, while the plainclothes cop dug frantically for his identification.

“Okay, hold it right there, the window is as close as you are going to get. You’re not coming in.”

The cop asked, “What would you have done if they came in?”

“We would have used the knife and hammer on them.”

[Cop] “You’re not supposed to do that.”

Mom answered with, “What are we supposed to do? Invite them in for a cup of tea?”

[Cop] “Well, we will just come in and use the stairs to the street.”

Mom answered with a definite NO WAY. “you got a ladder out there from the ground, you just go back the way you came, and take the ladder and those idiots with you.”

So they did.

The bad guys were hauled off and charged, not realizing that was their life saver. My mother and father, during the Depression (the dirty 30s) were butcher and chef on the Great Lakes ships and mom was well schooled in the use of the BIG BUTCHER KNIVES.

Muriel had a hot temper, from earlier rougher days of her life, and would not hesitate to use the hammer on an intruder’s head. No one has ever made it through our home without an invitation (including me).

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


What a great story! You've certainly had some tough and self-sufficient women in your life.


Terrific story. I loved how those two women took charge and refused to let the police in the house.

The cops met their match that night...

Great story - it goes along with the person in the Halloween pictures! Your Mama raised you right...

Boy, you didn't need a guard dog with resourceful women like that in your home. Great story and I am always happy to read about women who can handle a scary situation well.

You come from some strong survivor stock, William! Thanks for the story.

An entertaining tale--I love it. I could picture it--I grew up in the winters in very similar apartments on the 2nd floor over various stores. We did have front windows, but had to enter by a long, dark enclosed stairway, and I remember running up it as fast as I could. It was much scarier than my grandma's farm in the summers, even though we had no electric lights there, ever.

William - Wow! Great Story.

My wife and my mother would have dove under the nearest bed, and stayed there, shivering! - Sandy

Live and learn. I only keep a knife in the bedroom. Maybe I'll add a hammer.

old fender ken lived just behind your apartment on coleman ave. ken got into a LOT of trouble in that laneway too. Had no idea you lived so close--wemoved out to scarborough in 1955. just missed you again. not sure of the hardware store--cawkers??grubers ladies store??

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