Dad and Mom left the house for a rare night out, and all of us children remained at home. The phone rang, and no one budged. My older brothers and sisters sat transfixed by the television, a relatively new acquisition in those mid-1960s days. After the phone continued to ring several times, I couldn’t stand it. I pulled up a chair to stand on in order to reach the wall phone, and answered it. I couldn’t have been more than six or seven-years-old.
Immediately, my older siblings jumped up with instructions to me about taking a message, writing down names, etc. I could barely hear the man on the other end of the line. Confusion ensued. By the time I hung up and climbed down the chair, my scribbled message carried the name Corps Drippings, spelled like that, and no telephone number. The verbal teasing and laughter I heard from my kin in response to my note alternately made me laugh and devastated me.
When Dad and Mom returned some time later, they heard the story of the phone call. I told Dad all I knew. Instead of berating me, Dad inquired of my older brothers, “Why the hell didn’t one of you answer the phone, instead of waiting for a child to do it? You know we were expecting an important business call.”
My brothers, in turn, mad at being bawled out, told me not to answer the phone again until I could take a decent message. They also poked fun at the ridiculous name I had taken down. My third oldest brother, Jim, said, “Ah Dad, it was probably a prank. Corpse Drippings!” and everybody laughed again.
I couldn’t take anymore, and ran from the family room in tears. Scrunched down low, hiding in the closet I shared with my sister, I could hear my dad calling me. Still whimpering, I didn’t respond. Finally, he found me. He pulled the clothes back and I saw a tender smile cross his face as he looked at me. He offered me his hand and said gently, “Come on out, honey. If it’s important, he’ll call back.”
I never felt more loved than in that moment when my dear dad drew me out and hugged me, and I knew all was well again…and my family had a story had entertained them for years.