I've been meaning to write this story for a long time, but to be truthful, the whole story with all the disturbing memories gives me a major case of the willies, because it involves someone who was a part of our family for several years.
Mr. Cooper was dignified and refined in manner with a somewhat austere countenance. He was also impeccable in dress and I especially remember that he always seemed to be "dressed up" and he wore long silky black socks that seemed a little weird to me. He also had a penchant for bourbon in expensive crystal decanters.
I recall him lifting my sister and me up in the air, but neither of us felt comfortable in his presence. We were just a little afraid of him. He rarely visited our home because we had a pet who just happened to be a black cat named Marianne and Mr. Cooper was superstituous to the extreme. Black cats were bad luck and he would turn the car around rather than let one cross his path if he could help it. On the rare occasions he did visit, we locked the cat in my parent's bathroom. Mr. Cooper was the only child of a prominent family. His father was a dentist and he maintained a close relationship with his widowed mother, never marrying while she was still alive. Red flag#1! Right?
One of the good memories of visiting my grandmother's home during that period is that Mr. Cooper often went duck hunting in the fall and it is then when I would go to spend the night with her. Special breakfasts of cinnamon toast made with thick slices of " homemade" bread from Frank's Bakery and served with real cocoa to drink, and dessert of partially frozen raspberries with Lucky Whip topping were special treats I only had on these rare overnight visits. Mr. Cooper also had a speckled bird dog, Frisco, who was gentle and frisky and I loved to play with him. Unfortunately, Mr. Cooper showed his true colors, being a overbearing, mean dog owner who had to show his dog who was boss. Red flag #2 Beware of men who are mean to animals!
Grandmother Elsie had been self sufficient for years, having raised my father mostly by herself, and she was not one to tolerate bad treatment for long. Soon before the domestic violence incident, she had discovered that Mr. Cooper was consulting a "fortune teller" who had told him about a large sum of money and jewelry buried in a cemetery. When she discovered that he had actually been probing around that cemetery, she left and moved in with us until she could move into a rent house she owned. Except for my dad, we were all afraid of what Mr. Cooper might do. Mother was certain he was watching our house. I remember being afraid to go to bed at night because my mother wasn't one to consider that it might frighten children to announce that Mr. Cooper was crazy and might kill us all!!!
Well, we all survived the domestic drama and it wasn't too many years later that we learned that Mr. Cooper had married again to a wealthy society woman. Imagine our shock when in the late l960's we read in the paper that Mr. Cooper had been murdered by this new wife in a murder/suicide!! My grandmother was greatly troubled by the news and even attended the funeral for Mr. Cooper, I suspect mainly due to curiosity rather than respect. His neighbor commented to her at the service that Mr. Cooper was the most evil man he ever met. Caveat#3 Run as fast as you can away from anyone consulting fortune tellers and probing around cemeteries!!!
One of the most disturbing aspect of the shocking news was the violent way in which Mr. Cooper met his end. We knew the charming side, but beneath that cool demeanor, there lurked a dark, disturbed side which apparently drove a woman to commit murder and suicide. Why did she not just leave like my grandmother did? She had plenty of money and was an only child herself with an elderly mother dependent on her. Was it really a suicide and not a double murder? The fact that there were notes left concerning disposition of personal affairs does seem to support the suicide, but who on earth could smother themself with a plastic bag over their head?!!! "C" surmised as we discussed it recently that she must have sedated herself. Obviously all this speculation is a mystery that no one will ever know the answer to.
I recently decided to drive by the home where this terrible event occurred. It is a beautiful home in a lovely older neighborhood where property values have increased greatly through the years. It is such a gorgeous place, that you would never dream that something so sordid and horrible occured in the upstairs bedrooms. I do know that I could never cross the threshold of this beautiful house. Call it silly if you will, because although I am not superstituous, I do believe in a supernatural realm where evil presences as well as angelic presences dwell among us. So what do you think? Could you live in a home where a horrific crime occured?
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