According to legal definition, a juvenile delinquent is a person between the ages of 7 and 16 who commits an act which would be considered a crime if that person were an adult. I considered myself to be a juvenile delinquent at the age of 5 due to a childish prank. I thought as a result of my actions I would be sent to the W. T. Edwards Juvenile Detention Center in my city for being a bad little girl.
My mother worked outside the home in the early sixties and I was left in the capable and kind care of her aunt, my great aunt, Monkey. I called my aunt "Monkey" from my beginning because when I tried to say "Aunt Margaret," it sounded as though I was saying "Monkey," so the name just stuck.
Monkey was very good to me but she had a way of scaring good behavior into me as well. Regularly Monkey warned me about the wrath of God and that bad little girls were sent to the juvenile home. I knew that God was not someone to trifle with because Monkey told me that when I saw lightning and heard thunder, God was mad at someone and the way Monkey's voice sounded when she said the words juvenile home made me imagine it was a place where I would be forced to do nothing but clean the floors on my hands and knees and be given only bread and water for nourishment. I did not want to make God mad or be sent to the dreaded juvenile home because I had been a bad little girl.
Like many 5 year olds, I loved to play games and make believe. One of my favorite pastimes was to pretend I was a secretary in an office like my mother. I usually played with a writing tablet to create my important papers in my imaginary office, but I began to get bored with documents I had created. They were not authentic and I wanted genuine envelopes and letters with which to play. The thought struck me that I could find these props for play in my aunt's next door neighbor's mailbox.
My aunt's next door neighbor was named Sarah although Monkey pronounced it Say-ruh. Sarah always fixed her golden blonde hair in a style that I thought looked like a big, fat hamburger bun on the top of her head. She had piercing blue eyes, a sharp nose, and China doll perched lips. Her matronly figure was usually adorned in her work attire which was entirely white from her jacket, blouse, skirt, nylons, and even down to her orthopedic white shoes. She did, however, wear a pretty, pink laced handkerchief that rested on her left bosom. Sara worked at the local Morrison's Cafeteria as a server in the salad and fruit section of the food line. Even though Sarah resembled an angel in white, the glare that was in her eyes reminded me of the devil or she was probably like one of the women in the juvenile home that would stand over me with a big, thick stick to hit me if I didn't scrub the floors hard enough were I ever so unfortunate to end up in that place.
Since Sarah was away from her house in the daytime working, I reasoned this would be the best time to confiscate the mail from her mailbox. She had one of those mailboxes that was attached beside her front door so I had to walk up the Aztec tiled steps of her front porch to reach it. Her mailbox was so inviting because it was made of clear, thick, beveled glass which revealed its contents. It had a black lid on the top that looked like a scalloped, laced topper of a window curtain and when I opened it, it squeaked like a door that needed to be oiled with WD40.
After much contemplation, I decided to go forward with my plan to take the mail out of Sarah's mailbox. As I quietly sneaked out the back door of Monkey's house my heart began to beat a little faster and I felt somewhat anxious, but I kept on going toward Sarah's house. I remember walking in the thick, dark green St.Augustine grass in my aunt's yard that felt like cushioning under my Mary Jane shoes and looking carefully in every direction to make sure no one was watching me en route to my destination. As I approached...