Friday, March 28, 2008

Mysterious Message

Remember Pearl Harbor!

The housing plat known as Green Valley, was located in easterly Owensville, Indiana, sitting snug and tight between an abandoned Texaco oil refinery and the tri-county dump. One winter morning its citizens were puzzled to awaken to a cryptic message scrawled on a sidewalk.

The message was written in colored chalk. That itself was strange. Such chalk was rare for the day. Generally, the only persons having such chalk were county forensic examiners. Even then, the examiners used the chalk only in rare cases of multiple fatalities to mark each body's location before they were moved from the scene. Since multiple homicides only became common in Indiana by the middle of the 1960's, there had been little use for the colored chalk until then.

As for the handwriting, this was crude; written by a drunk, some said; others, pointing to the strange looping P and L, blamed some drugged out and bored juvenile delinquent. There was much to this latter claim. Vandalism had been rampant in the area due to an extended teachers strike. Rather than fill their time by continuing their studies on their own, local teens zestfully filled their plentiful leisure defacing or wrecking public property. Three libraries were torched. The turf of the city’s ballpark was torn up by the tires of wild teen drivers. The mayor’s hundred year old tek wood sailboat was stolen while he was hospitalized from a car accident. The boat was secretly dissembled in a nearby park, with the wood stored for later use to fuel an illegal Thanksgiving barn fire. The teen unrest was not helped by the presence of marijuana. This noxic and toxic weed was beginning to reach these once safe neighborhoods by way of so-called "musical" acts touring from the south. Until recently, most local teens’ sole experience with drugs had been a healthful daily tablespoon of Cod Liver Oil. Given this bright-faced, chubby-checked innocence, a few tokes of this noxious weed was enough to blight out the already questionable judgment of any Indiana teen.

As for the location of the sidewalk upon which the message was scrawled? That location seemed to explain nothing. The sidewalk ran in front of Theodore Roosevelt Elementary, known affectionately by the locals as the "Ted-El". It was a quiet school, never a victim to the wave of vandalism

And as for the contents of the message? The message read simply:

'Remember Pearl Harbor!'

Numerous people commented on the message. A short but furious exchange of letters-to-the-editor were published.

But no one ever came to identify who put the message on the sidewalk -- or why. For at the time, December 7, 1939, Pearl Harbor meant nothing to anyone but a few local retired naval men; for the infamous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor never took place until two years the day.