Write Again … A bedtime mystery

Published 4:42 pm Friday, November 23, 2018

It was a long time ago. A long time.

More specifically, it was 1965. My new wife and I were living in a small cottage at Boys Home, which was nestled very near the shores of Lake Waccamaw. I was a counselor there.

Each of the four counselors there — staff members — had, among other duties, responsibilities for one cottage. Mine was Jaycee cottage. Each cottage was home to a dozen or so boys, in specific age groups.

Mr. Hammond, a retired architect, was in charge of the cottage that had the youngest boys.

Some nights, as a reward for a good homework period, he would give the boys a treat. One night he gave them a couple of Hershey’s kisses each, with the clear understanding that the treats would not be eaten on the beds, and a good brushing of the teeth would follow.

Later, when making a final check on the boys at bedtime, one of the lads, whose nickname was “Little Dumper,” told Mr. Hammond, when he came into the sleeping quarters, that there was a tiny chocolate-looking smudge on the sheet on one of the beds.

Of course, Mr. Hammond thought the eating ban on the beds had been violated. But none — not one — of the boys owned up to it. All proclaimed innocence.

With no perpetrator to confront, Mr. Hammond was puzzled.

That’s when the Little Dumper voluntarily tried to help solve the mystery. He went over to the spot in question, took a sniff, then announced, “Mr. Hammond, it don’t smell like chocolate.”

Then — and then he touched a finger to the place under scrutiny, put a finger to his lips, then proclaimed, “Mr. Hammond, it don’t taste like chocolate!”

And here I’ll leave the telling of the story of the Little Dumper and the “chocolate.”

This took place over a half-century ago. Most surely Mr. Hammond has gone to his deserved reward.

Those special little fellows are now in their late fifties and sixties. It is my fervent hope that each has had a good life.

I’ll bet none of them has ever eaten in bed.

APROPOS — “ The truly passionate are little boys.”

— Murray Kempton