Vol. 13



1951; Greeley, Nebraska, USA

It was a cold Friday evening in November 1951. I was looking at a Christmas catalog in the dining room while my little brother, Mick, was playing with his trucks under the kitchen table. As usual, my father was sitting in his chair, reading the weekly newspaper, and my mother was in the kitchen putting away supper. My sister, Mary, was sitting on the couch looking at the fireplace when we heard the kitchen door slam open.

BANG! I heard a gunshot, my mother’s scream, and a crash from a fallen glass milk container. My father and I scrambled to our feet and ran into the kitchen.

Standing in the doorway was a man I didn’t know, but I knew he lived close by. I had seen him a few times. He had shot my mother in the shoulder! My father yelled at me to run to the closest neighbor’s house.

I went through the alfalfa field next to our house. Since we went to school that way, I was familiar enough with the field to go through it in the dark. Next I crossed the train tracks and then the country road to the neighbor’s yard. The neighbors were not there, so I turned on a light and called the party line,1 hoping my aunt would answer the phone.

“Hello?” my aunt said. I was happy to hear her voice. I told my aunt what had happened, that I was terrified, and where I was. My aunt just told me to keep calm and stay in the house until I could hear the ambulance and police. I was okay with that. I turned the lights back off and sat in the dark in the old house, scared and worried, for a while. Soon I heard an ambulance and the police, and felt a little better knowing there was help coming.

I started back home. I was still a little scared, but who wouldn’t be? When I was almost home, my father met me halfway through the alfalfa field and said, “Hurry up! We have to go to Grand Island with your mother.” I ran back with him.

My mother was in the hospital for several months.

When my mother was finally allowed to come home, she had a ball she was supposed to squeeze to get some of her strength back into her arm, but she didn’t use it. Instead of squeezing the ball, my mother decided to peel apples to get her strength back. My mother was one tough woman.

The man who had shot my mother was in a mental hospital for a while. After the incident, we got a phone since we hadn’t had one before, but we barely used the phone again.


My great-grandmother was a very strong woman, and I wish I could have met her. This story was told by my great-aunt Jean, who is now seventy-five years old and can still tell this story full of details and from her heart.

Piper Shepard; Nebraska, USA


1. A party line is a telephone line shared by several customers. Each customer has a unique ring code. When any customer on the line is called, all the phones on the line ring that customer’s ring, and any or all customers on the line can answer the call.



This copyrighted story may be copied and/or printed for limited classroom or personal use. To reprint this story in an article about The Grannie Annie, please contact The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration for permission.


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