The Detective’s Daughter – Officer Dad

Hi Readers! Interrupting today’s regularly scheduled program to announce the winner from Friday’s giveaway with Tonya Kappes! Carlrscott – please message us at the Wicked Cozy Authors FB page with your information. Congrats!

 

Kim in Baltimore wishing she were still lounging on the beach in Rehoboth.

June is the month we celebrate our fathers. For this reason, I thought it would be fun to talk with other daughters of detectives. Our guests today are Kathie Lewandowski Richardson and Heather Baker Weidner. I have known Kathie most of my life. Her dad was once my dad’s partner on the force. Heather is a mystery author whom I recently met at Malice Domestic and we bonded over our dad’s  shared occupation.

Growing up, I felt I had been treated a bit differently by my school friends and neighborhood children, especially when I was a teenager, because my dad was a cop. I asked the ladies how they felt on this subject.

Heather: I grew up in a city where my dad was a police captain. As a teenager and college student, it felt like my dad hindered my life. He gave me a hard time about two clubs my friends and I liked. He knew what was going on and where, but it just felt smothering when I was twenty-something.

Kathie with her dad

Kathie: Yes, It was difficult. I grew up in a small community where everybody knew each other. The adults knew my dad as a well-respected BCP officer who worked hard and excelled in everything he did. Dad climbed to the ranks of Major and retired in 1995.  There was a teacher who nicknamed my dad Johnny Law. He portrayed my dad as the enemy to the kids in his class who were twelve and thirteen years old and very impressionable. They were at an age where some were experimenting with smoking, drinking and even drugs. The kids were afraid to hang out with me because of what this teacher said and I had a very small circle of friends during that period.

Dinner times with my dad were always interesting. He enjoyed sharing stories about his day with me and my sister. He never went into the gory details, but would describe how he had solved the mystery or puzzle. I believe I write mysteries today because of him.  Kathie had a different experience, but I learned Heather’s dinner time was similar to mine.

Kathie: Dad never shared “cop” stories with us when we were children. He never talked about it until after he’d retired and my sisters and I were in our thirties. He raised five daughters, so he believed if he told his little girls stories about cops and robbers, it might frighten us. One story I do recall was about when he and his partner chased a suspect on foot through the streets of Baltimore. The suspect made his way to a rooftop and jumped down with Dad’s partner right behind him. The partner ended up breaking both his ankles and though my dad was more concerned about his partner than the suspect, he still had to pursue him. He found the suspect, unable to move because he had sprained both of his feet in the fall, just around the corner.

Heather: We grew up talking about murder and mayhem at the dinner table. I didn’t realize it wasn’t polite conversation until I went over to friends’ houses. Our conversations were always interesting, and they probably provided good information for later stories. I love mysteries and puzzles. Dad went to work every day to solve mysteries. He’s also a great story teller. He’s retired now, but he’s still my best law enforcement resource. I still ask him things like, “Hey, Dad. What does a meth lab smell like?” Some things you just don’t want to Google.

Kathie’s dad was John Lewandowski. He was a tall man with a good disposition and kind eyes, a man you wouldn’t be afraid to ask for his help. He car-pooled with my dad and every weekday Mom and I sat in front of Central District waiting for them to be finished work. Mr. John was always nice to me. I asked Kathie did she feel her dad was a stricter parent due to his job. Kathie said, “Yes, I believe he was more strict because he was aware of what was happening on the streets and he wanted to protect us.”  I had to agree that I felt the same way about my dad. I was very sheltered. Any time I went out Dad seemed to know my every move by the time I returned home. I think all the cops in the city of Baltimore were on the lookout for me. I couldn’t get away with anything and knew better than to try.

Our dad’s were also responsible for some of our first jobs. Heather told me her first job was picking up shell casings at the police range when her dad was done practicing. She also spent several weekends melting old crayons to make practice bullets for the SWAT team. That sounded like a lot more fun than the job my dad got me -finger printing bodies in the morgue! An experience every eighteen-year-old kid needs.

I think we all agreed our dads are our heroes and I’m pretty sure the love we feel for them has little to do with their jobs in law enforcement.

I’d like to thank Heather and Kathie for taking time out to answer my questions. To learn more about Heather go to www.HeatherWeidner.com. Heather blogs regularly with Pens, Paws, and Claws authors.

Dear Readers, What was your dad’s occupation? How did their job help to shape you?

 

 

The Detective’s Daughter – The New York Trip, Part 2

By Kim

There’s lots of exciting things to see in the Big Apple –  Central Park, Broadway shows and Times Square – but for me it’s all about the bookstores, coffee shops and cocktails.

My trips to NYC always begin at The Strand. The Strand Bookstore opened in 1927 and is a day trip in itself. I’ve been there numerous times and have yet to make it to the second floor. I always purchase a notebook and a book that takes place in NYC. This last trip I bought The Odd Woman and the City, which is a memoir by Vivian Gornick. I have to limit myself otherwise all my mad money would be spent on books. That would be a lot to carry back to the Jane Hotel which is quite a hike from the Strand!

I have several coffee shops I frequent when in the West Village. My favorites are The Hudson Cafe – which also serves an awesome breakfast burrito – The Bean, and Kava Cafe. All three are wonderful and worth checking out next time you’re in the city.

No trip is complete without a visit to the altar of Dorothy Parker. The  Algonquin Hotel spent many years as host to The Vicious Circle, a group started by Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley not long after the end of WWI. They met everyday for lunch along with other writers and editors of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. Their table was reserved for them and became known as the Algonquin Round Table. The Algonquin Hotel is now a National Literary Landmark.I sit at the same table each visit and order my favorite drink – a Dorothy Parker, of course!

 

 

The Algonquin Hotel’s Dorothy Parker

5-6oz. of gin (there’s even a brand called Dorothy Parker!)

1/2oz. St. Germain

Lemon, honey and basil to taste.

Shake. Pour. Enjoy!

Readers: Hope you have enjoyed my mini tour of NYC. Please tell me about your favorite spots in the city in the comments!

The Detective’s Daughter :The New York Trip Part 1

We are having a technical problem this morning. Earlier comments have been lost and you may get a second message announcing this post. We apologize for any inconvenience!

Kim, back in Baltimore, planning the next getaway.

Last month I visited one of my favorite cities, New York. I try to get there at least twice a year. Though I’m not fond of crowds or the Times Square hubbub, the West Village has wrapped itself around my heart. It was the Jane Hotel that first introduced me to this lovely neighborhood several years ago.

The Jane Hotel, designed by William A. Boring and opened in 1908 as a hotel for sailors, is not only a beautiful and inexpensive place to stay but is rich with history. More than 100 survivors of the Titanic stayed at the hotel during the American Inquiry into the sinking of the ocean liner in 1912. The sailors felt right at home in the cabin-like rooms.

I stay in a “Captain’s” room usually on the third floor with a view of the Hudson River. The rooms are a fair size though not overly large, but you could swim in the bathtubs! The Jane also has a restaurant and a nightclub. Even if you’re not a “clubbier” it is worth going to see the Victorian architecture.

In the late 1980’s RuPaul lived in the “penthouse” apartment which is now the rooftop bar. Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Million Dollar Club were among the bands who performed there in the 1990’s.

As much as I love New York, I believe I really go just to stay at the Jane. Everything else is a bonus.

Readers, Join me next month to learn about all the fabulous places I visited when I was able to drag myself from the hotel. In the meantime, please share your favorite hotel experience.

The Detective’s Daughter — Snow! Snow! Snow!

Kim, in Baltimore, watching her cement steps crumble under layers of salt.

When I was about seven years old, don’t even ask me what year that was, we had an incredible snowstorm. The snow was piled so high we had to tunnel through it. Now granted, I was a little kid, so the snow banks might not have been quite that impressive to the adults, but it was bad enough that everything in Baltimore was shut down and the National Guard was transporting all medical personnel and law enforcement to work.

Nana, Mom, and I stood at the door and watched as Daddy climbed up into a truck that had wheels almost as tall as my father. You see these over-sized trucks everywhere today – don’t even get me started on that! – but back then, other than a tractor trailer, people did not drive these types of vehicles. A man inside had to help pull Daddy in. I remained there as the truck drove away, its tires crunching across the ground breaking the cold silence.

The snow days of my childhood were thrilling, filled with hot chocolate, popcorn and endless hands of 500 Rummy. If Daddy wasn’t called into work, he would pull me on my sled or we would walk our St. Bernard, Barney, to the park. I can’t recall one time my parents rushing out to the grocery store or any of our television programs being interrupted by a haggard looking weather forecaster predicting doom.

My family loves snow, though we don’t get very much of it here in Baltimore. Just seeing the snowflake symbol pop up on my phone brings a smile to my face and I rush to my pantry to make sure I have our snowy day essentials. Coffee, cocoa, popcorn and the ingredients for a hearty soup or dumplings are always available.

Now my own children are grown. They no longer sit on the stairs anxiously awaiting to hear if their school is closed. They don’t need any assistance with their coats or boots and mostly know where they’ve left their gloves and hats.

Last Saturday night I sat near the window, my coffee mug in hand, and watched as heavy wet snowflakes dropped from the sky. The yard was empty, but in my heart two beautiful children ran with their dog and flung themselves on the ground to make snow angels.

One of my favorite movie scenes is from White Christmas. Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye and Vera Allen are on a train headed for Vermont. While sitting in the dining car they create a winter wonderland on their table and sing of their love of snow. That’s how I feel. While others may be counting the days to spring, I am hoping for one more snow day.

Dear Reader: Do you love or dread snow? What is your fondest snow day memory?

The Detective’s Daughter

Breaking news! Jennyjc is the winner of Julie Moffett’s contest. Jenny please send Sherry your contact information and she will get it to Julie: Sherryharrisauthor@gmail.com

The flu has hit the Wickeds! Kim we hope you feel better soon. We are bringing you this encore post — the very first one Kim wrote almost four years ago.

Today we introduce Kim Gray, winner of the 2009 William F. Deck – Malice Domestic Grant. We met Kim at the Seascape Writers Retreat in 2009. Her stories of growing up as a detective’s daughter fascinated us and now she will be sharing them in a monthly column. Welcome Kim!

By Kim Gray In Baltimore City

Today we introduce Kim Gray, winner of the 2009 William F. Deck – Malice Domestic Grant. We met Kim at the Seascape Writers Retreat in 2009. Her stories of growing up as a detective’s daughter fascinated us and now she will be sharing them in a monthly column. Welcome Kim!

With a mother who grew up as a grave digger’s daughter, and a dad who was a homicide detective for over thirty years, is it any wonder I spend copious hours contemplating death? I can’t see an abandoned glove without wondering where the remains of the owner might be. Every discarded trash bag left along the side of the road has the potential for holding together a dismembered body. Even the innocence of a free floating balloon brings my thoughts to mayhem. I can not help myself.

kimbabypicAs a child, I didn’t spend a great deal of time with my dad. He worked everyday, after all, this was Baltimore City, a place synonymous with murder. Dad was a busy man. He was also a man of few words. There wasn’t a great deal of conversation during dinner, for my mom was also a quiet person. On the nights Dad brought home a folder of a case he was working on, well that was a treat. On those nights he actually talked with us. There was nothing he loved more than to discuss a case. I hung on every word and they seeped through my skin and into my bloodstream.

On occasion Dad would let me run an errand with him. We’d be driving down a street and he would point out locations where bodies had been found. Later in life I referred to this as Dad’s Homicide Tour. It was interesting and if he were alive today I believe he could have had an enterprising business.

kim's dadThe story I remember most clearly occurred near St. Paul street, in a very posh neighborhood. Dad pointed to a large Victorian house on the corner. “See that third floor window, over to the right? Well, we were called in there for a suspicious death. Parents claimed the boy hung himself. But I could see straight away it was wrong. Everything was wrong. The kid had a bruise around his wrist and the rope just wasn’t right. Found out within an hour the stepfather had a history of domestic abuse. He killed the kid, said it was accidental.”

So many stories were similar to that one. Hardly a street was passed without a story of some poor person and their final moments in Baltimore. As hard as I tried to pay attention, listen to every syllable he uttered, I wish I had written it all down. At the time it didn’t matter what he said,or what story he told. I only cared that he was talking, sharing a story and some time with me.

On a summer night a few years ago I was sitting at a red light in a very posh neighborhood of the city. My own children were very young and my dad had been dead three months.  Looming ahead of me was a Victorian-style mansion. “Hey guys, see that house?” I asked my kids. They were busy looking at books in the back seat. “Well, years and years ago Grandpa Charlie was the lead detective on a case there.”

And so the tour continues to this day,with me passing the torch to the next generation of homicide hunters.

Readers: What traditions do you carry on with your kids?

The Detective’s Daughter — The Ornaments of Christmas

Kim in Baltimore decking the halls…and every other room!

It has taken me nearly three weeks to decorate our tree. This project began the day after Thanksgiving and our tree is not that big. The problem is me. I need to reminisce over each ornament then find exactly the right place for it to hang. Maybe by Christmas Eve it will be finished.

Growing up in the house in South Baltimore, we had two Christmas trees. One was downstairs in my grandparents’ apartment and the other was upstairs in our apartment. Both were artificial and I was an adult before I realized people could have live trees other than in movies.

Nana had a beautiful silver tree that sat on a table she sometimes gift wrapped. The ornaments were all silver like the tree, but changed colors as the color wheel turned.

Mom’s tree was a traditional green wrapped in colored bubble lights and adorned with ornaments that she and I (and sometimes Daddy) had made. We would sit at the kitchen table and paint wooden gingerbread men, angels and houses. There was also a trio of angels made from feathers. They were my favorites.

As I decorate my own tree I remember all these stories and how each lovely ornament came into my possession. There are the ornaments I was given by my students when I taught Kindergarten, the little things my own children have made, and the ones we’ve collected on our travels. Still, after all these years, it’s the ornaments I have kept from my childhood that truly mean Christmas to me.

I have recently found a beaded lady Nana made and have added that to my tree this year along with a snow-covered house my son bought for me last year. New items to hang beside old favorites. I still have one more box left of ornaments and though my family will say we have enough and the tree looks good, it isn’t finished until all the boxes are empty and the garland is draped over the branches.

I wish each of you a happy holiday season!

Dear readers: Do you have a favorite holiday ornament or tradition? Please share it with us.

The Detective’s Daughter — Lost Language

Kim in Baltimore enjoying the last days of summer.

“What’s black and white with a cherry on top?” This was my dad’s favorite joke. “A radio car,” he’d say before anyone could answer and he’d laugh as if it were the funniest thing he’d ever heard. A radio car.

A few nights ago two police officers came to have a talk with a man who lives down the street with his girlfriend. She’d been on the porch yelling at him right before they showed up.

“What’s going on?” my daughter asked.

“Not much, just a radio car stopped down the street,” I answered.

“A what?”

“A radio car,” I said again. She stared at me, a blank expression on her face. “A patrol car, you know, the police.”

This exchange left me wondering. Does anyone still say radio car? What other pre-historic phrases am I using that baffles my family and friends?

Have you noticed people seldom say telephone anymore? It’s either landline or cell. I’ve even had to describe to my kids about  phone booths.

I think back to my own childhood and the phrases my grandmother would use. When she said, “I’m going to lay across the bed,” that meant she was going to take a nap. And that was exactly what she would do, lay across her bed and not on the pillow or under the covers. I still say this, but it means I’ll be napping upstairs and not on the couch.

One of my favorites was the word “jackpot”. And no, it didn’t mean a big prize, in fact quite the opposite. If you were in the jackpot it meant you were in a great deal of trouble, not a winner.

For years we said things such as icebox and hanky because that’s what my grandparents said.

Why is it that some expressions hang on while others disappear? Is it because times change or is it that we move farther from our families these days and the old terms fade away with our distance from them?

My daughter is never going to use the term radio car, or say she’s in a jackpot, but hopefully some of my “old” sayings will be passed along for future generations to wonder over.

Readers: What phrases or words do you remember your parents using that are no longer in fashion?