I was thinking about a pay telephone this week. The pay phone was right off a parking lot in the middle of open space---a park if you will. Comins Pond---which was built in 1957.
It was a peaceful place in a bucolic community. You might have expected that it would be a set for Andy Griffith in the old days rather than anything else.
And, certainly not for what I remember.
The place where that pay phone was located was Warren. It just overlooked the police station. You could hit a nine iron to the front door of the station.
Before that I wouldn't have been able to tell you where Warren was.
For several weeks it is where reporters from across the state gathered to hear the tragic story of Molly Bish. It was 20 years ago this weekend that we first gathered and that is where we met what is an amazing family of strength and courage.
The Bish's came to Massachusetts-- to Warren from Michigan where Maggi would always tell reporters they wanted to have a safe place to raise their kids.
Molly was a life guard at the pond. She had been on the job that summer for eight days.
I can still heat Maggi talk about "My Molly."
John and Maggi Bish came to the park each evening to face reporters about any of the advancements that police were able to make regarding the sudden disappearance of their daughter Molly. She was a lifeguard at Comins Pond. She disappeared that day 20 years ago without a trace.
John and Maggi were graceful in their time of grief. Heather, who is now in her late 30's I would guess right now and has kept Molly's case alive before the world, she was the quiet kid. Never talking. Sometimes a nod.
Science was different then. John Conte, who is 90 now talked about mitochondria DNA. Genetics experts will roll their eyes, but basically in every story we referred to that as "DNA that comes from the mother."
20 years ago. Cellphones were just not where they are now. "Service" was a suggestion that it would be there for us. And, the race to the one payphone to file reports.
You remember weird things. One year after we met the Bish family --- there was a Mass in the church across the street. I went the first year. It was something to see the community support for a family that didn't deserve to be thrust into the limelight the way they were.
The Molly Bish Foundation is there now. From time to time you will see the foundation do talks with kids, or DNA registrations for families. All in the hopes that if the unthinkable happens---a family will have what they need to give police when seconds count.
I thought about that phone in the park. I think about going back to that park just to see what it was like now. I have not been back to Warren since that Mass 19 years ago. It is just too tough to think about.
It is too tough to think about.
It is even more so to be the special family to have lived through that and still do.
(Photo with thanks The Molly Bish Center)