One of my very first memories in life is of the FBI searching our house in June of 1972. I was three years-old.
My eighteen year-old sister, Debbie, was there and my two year-old sister, Amie, was there. Our maternal grandmother, who helped raise us, was there. Her son, Chuck Mulligan, was part of my father's crew. He had already been arrested and was in the Los Angeles County Jail. My mother was in California with him. My father was a fugitive.
To my three year-old eyes, it seemed like a hundred federal agents swarmed my home. They weren't mean to us at all, but were very stern and made us all stay in one room. We all sat in the living room, speechless for the most part, and watched while every centimeter of our once secure home was invaded.
I don't know how long it took them to search the house, but it seemed like we sat in one spot all day.
When the search was over and the feds were leaving, they turned to my grandmother and told her they found a $20 bill from the burglarized United California Bank in her purse. She was silent.
The FBI left our home and my grandmother said, "I better go get dressed. They'll be back to arrest me."
Grandma wasn't quite ready when the feds were back with an arrest warrant for her. She asked them if she could put on her pantyhose, and they allowed her to go back to her room to accomplish that last detail.
She came back into the living room and said to the agents, "Okay, we can go now."
Then Amie started screaming. Grandma was her security, the person she loved most in the world, and she was afraid she would never see her again.
Debbie held Amie and tried to comfort her. Grandma, from across the room, explained to Amie that everything would be alright and that she would be back soon.
When Amie had calmed down, the two agents and my grandmother walked towards the front door. Before they walked out the door, Grandma turned, looked at Debbie, and said, "You tell everyone to keep their mouths shut because I can handle anything the FBI can do to me."
I sat on the couch, motionless and speechless, throughout the whole event, and just watched it unfold.
My mother called a few hours later and I answered the phone. The first words out of my three year-old mouth were, "Mommy, the FBI arrested Grandma."
My mother's response, like the rest of the day's events, is burned in my memory: "I know, Honey. We got her a bondsman and she'll be home tonight." I didn't know what a bondsman was, but I knew Grandma would be home.
And Grandma was home that night. Eventually, the charges against her were dismissed.
Grandma was an incredibly strong woman and her arrest and time spent in the holding cell of the Mahoning County Jail didn't upset her one bit. In fact, until the day Alzheimer's Disease took that memory from her, it remained one of the highlights of her life.
(This post was originally written on January 7, 2011, on my other blog, "The Bank Burglar's Daughter".I am re-posting it today as part of a writing meme at "The Red Dress Club.")