Yesterday morning the newsroom was listening to the scanner, working on our assignments and editing our pages, when we heard a call for assistance – a toddler, wearing a blue shirt and green shorts, was missing.
We listened to Minden Police respond and wait for more information. As a mother of three, ages eight, six and two, the story I was listening to was one of my worst nightmares.
My emotions began to take the better of me, I dwelled on whom the child might be. I wondered if the missing child was my own two year old. I started to pick up the phone to call home and make sure the baby sitter still had all three of my children in her care. However, the address, which was two blocks away, was given over the scanner and I was out of my chair before my editor could finish asking me to go check it out. As a reporter, I wanted the story. As a mother, I wanted the toddler to be found and to be safe.
As I pulled out of the Minden Press-Herald parking lot I saw two people standing outside. They were looking around, paying attention to their surroundings. I wondered if they were looking for the toddler.
As I drove down the street, what I saw filled me with hope. Every home and business owner was outside, searching his or her property, looking for the little boy.
I passed by the residence and saw, what I learned to be the boy's mother, in frantic tears. Seeing her panic and imagining her pain, I began to cry as I imagined the worst for her.
I made a pass around the block. It seemed to me the entire Minden Police Department was patrolling the area for this precious life.
As I passed by the residence a second time I saw people running, charging toward the home where the little boy lived, pulling him from crawl space of his family's pier and beam home. He was dirty and happy from playing under the house. Most importantly he was safe and unharmed.
I pulled over and began my job as a reporter – taking pictures and being otherwise nosy. I wanted to ask questions and do my job – but I couldn't' bring myself to. Seeing how tightly the mother held her boy evoked such strong emotions in me that I found it difficult to speak. I got the basic information and decided to make phone calls after everyone had a chance to recoup.
As I was taking pictures (and being nosy), I heard the mother expressed her sorrow for causing such a fuss and her guilt for looking away for the seconds it takes for toddlers to act like only toddlers can.
That is when Officer First Class Joel Kendrick gave the mother words of support, which also helped me.
"You didn't do anything wrong. These things happen," he said. "What we need to be thankful for is our community. You had the whole Minden PD out here – and it was a member of the community, an average person that found him. All your neighbors came out to search and find your boy. That doesn't happen everywhere."
As a Minden resident, sometimes I get discouraged. Every now and then I wonder why I didn't move off like some of my classmates. I feel stuck in a town full of gossips. I feel like people are looking to see what church I go to and judge me accordingly.
But there are moments like yesterday and during the St. Jude Auction and other benefits, when I know why I stay in Minden. It is the moments of support and love that come pouring from our neighbors and community that let me know I am raising my family in the right place. Actions like those of the neighbors yesterday afternoon console me and lift me up. Why would anyone want to live anywhere else but Minden?
Jeri Bloxom is Community Editor of the Minden Press-Herald.