Breaking and Entering

Written By: Alice R.  Martin

Usually you don’t think that someone would have to break into her own house, but that happened to me more than once. Back when I lived in Riverhead, I left my 14 year old son, Adam, babysitting my 4 year old daughter, Mariah. I arrived home fairly late at night, and found that Adam had locked the new storm door, which had recently been installed. These storm doors can only be opened from inside the house. I walked around the house and banged on his window on the first floor, but got no response. It was around 1983 and I didn’t have a cell phone at that time, so I couldn’t call the house. Our house had been targeted not too long before that by robbers, so I was quite alarmed. Last time, the robbers cut the electric wires to the house and the telephone wires as well. I called the police and they took a report and left. Later that night, they seem to have returned to the house. Luckily, the renter who lived across the street returned to her home very late from a graduation party, and she scared away several men who ran across my front lawn. So, I had to have the police back a second time and had to get both the electric and phone wires repaired.

So, on this subsequent night, I started to hyperventilate and all I could think was that the robbers had come back again and abducted my children. Maybe they were going to be sold into a child abduction-ring to work as prostitutes! Running out to the metal shed, I opened the door to the shed in the dark without a flashlight, and grabbed the crowbar, axe, hatchet, and hammer. I smashed the storm window but still couldn’t get into the kitchen. Next, I walked in the dark through the dog yard to my son’s window and pried the slightly open storm window and pushed it up. I climbed on a box from the shed and stepped directly on the plastic top of the turntable of the record player, cracking it. Looking around in the house, I found that the two kids had fallen asleep together watching TV in my daughter’s room. My son was so angry that I had broken his stereo, and I couldn’t believe that they could sleep so soundly that they didn’t hear me breaking in. The robbers would have gotten them for sure. I had to have a carpenter repair all the damage, and I was referred to as the “psycho mom” for a long time after that.

We moved to Sag Harbor and Sagaponack around 1997, and alternately rented the two houses we owned out to the summer and winter crowds. Both children were away at college at this time. I returned home one dark and cold evening on a night when a realtor had shown the house either for rental or for sale. Unfortunately, I was in the habit of not locking the house door between the kitchen and the garage. When I tried to get into the house, I found that the realtor had locked me out, and I didn’t have a house key with me. It must have been 10 degrees out that night. Luckily, cell phones were now available and I called my friend Lester to let him know the situation. He drove over from Bridgehampton and met me in the garage. “Hey, have you had dinner?” he asked? “My mother sent over a pot of beef stew that she just made tonight.” I was ravenous and Lester and I ate the beef stew in the garage, with the forks Ruth had sent over, along with napkins, and bowls! If it had been me, I never would have thought of sending food at a time like that, but you know mothers, and it sure made the night easier to survive on full tummies.

After we fueled up on dinner, Lester and I went to the shed and looked for tools to break in with. I had been overly cautious and safe, and therefore had put a sawed off piece of wood in the track of the sliding glass door on the back deck to deter crime. Well, it was deterring our efforts to break in instead. We found my Uncle Vernon’s crowbar in the shed. Obviously, we didn’t want to cause expensive and un-repairable damage. Working away tediously, we alternated efforts to pop the slider out of its track. When we had pretty much given up, the slider popped out of its track unexpectedly, and we were able to break in. It had been very cold in the ten-degree weather on the deck, and I hadn’t worn the right type of coat and gloves for the job.

After we were inside and I had made hot cocoa, the phone rang. It was a neighbor who was calling from up on the hill behind my house. She had seen the lights on and wanted to let me know an injured deer had made its way up behind my house around twilight that evening. She belonged to an animal rescue group, and she wanted my permission to come over to take the deer home in her car to treat it. I said, okay, and she showed up pretty quickly. Lester and Annette (the rescuer) and I took flashlights out into the wooded land on the east side of my back yard, looking for the deer. We were about to give up searching, when we heard labored breathing and snorting, but didn’t see anything. Continuing to slowly shine our lights at every tree trunk, we eventually located the deer at the base of a tree, wedged in under some branches. Lester decided to go get a carpenter’s saw. My uncle had been a carpenter in upstate New York and thence the preponderance of carpenters’ tools at my house. Slowly Lester sawed each branch as we ladies tried to hold the branches tight and in place. One of us stroked the deer’s long neck and murmured soothing things to him: “It’s going to be all right,” as Lester sawed away steadily on the branches that trapped the deer. When the last branch fell to the ground, we had to decide what to do next. Annette said, “Do you have a strong blanket?” I brought out an army blanket made of dark brown wool, and Annette, our leader, instructed us about how to slide the deer onto the blanket. “One, two, and three, heave. All right, let’s drag the blanket to my car.” It was tough getting smooth sailing out of the woods, due to the snow, dead branches, briars and brambles. “Heave, ho,” we got the deer to the car and Annette put in a call for her husband to come over and help us lift the deer up onto her tailgate and into the bed of her four wheel drive vehicle. “I’ll keep you informed,” she exclaimed as she drove out of sight. Lester found out where the deer was being kept later that week and drove down Noyack Road to visit him. He was being fed milk with bread crusts and corn, and was on an IV line for antibiotics. A veterinarian had been to visit him a few times. “I have to warn you, his neck appears to be broken,” Annette said, “and if we don’t see a chance for an improvement that will allow him to go back into the wild, we’re going to have to put him down.” A few days later, Lester said he had gone to visit the deer again, and he was dead. Thus ended our humanitarian wildlife effort.

Meanwhile, back home, I hid spare keys all over the outside of the house, in my purse, and in the garage. I constructed two small signs with black lettering that I taped to both sides of my kitchen door between the kitchen and the garage. The signs read, “Do not ever, ever lock this door!” I hoped I would never have to break into my own house again in the future.