I hired Mr. Brent Hargess. His fee was rather steep but it was worth it if he could help me find Katy. I figured I could afford a week of his time and I told him that I wanted to know as much about her as he could possibly find out. I told him what I knew about Katy, which was little more than her date of birth and what Miss Mabel had told me.
“That’s not a lot of information to work with,” he said. I agreed but told him that I knew he had access to records like car registrations and driver’s license numbers, so I asked him to check locally and nationally, if possible.
He leaned forward and said “you know it’s entirely possible that she is dead and that’s why you can’t find any trace of her.” That was something that I didn’t want to hear but I asked him to do his best.
A week later we met and he had absolutely nothing for me. He couldn’t find any car registered to her nor could he find that a driver’s license had ever been issued. “You know,” he said. “She could have gotten married and changed her name or she could have just changed it herself. People have been known to do that when they want to disappear.”
I asked him if he had by any chance found her Social Security number. He said that although he would be able to search, he had to have a valid reason for the search and just wanting to find somebody was not a valid reason. Then he said “she may not even have a Social Security number.”
I questioned him about that. “It is my understanding that everybody is required to have a Social Security number,” I said. He answered “yes, now they are but back in those days you got one mostly because you needed one to get a job. If you didn’t work or had no intention of ever working due to being supported by a husband, there was no need. There’s also the possibility as we discussed, that she got one under an assumed name, which I think is most likely.”
It pained me to write a check to him, when basically I had received no information, but he had put some effort into finding Katy and he deserved to be paid.
I had never been one to give up and admit defeat but I felt as if I had run into an impenetrable brick wall.
I decided to more or less “canvas” the neighborhood. Maybe there was some old-timer around who would remember Katy and her family.
My first thought was to visit Samwell. Maybe he knew the names of the people who had lived there. Maybe he knew the names of the children whose portraits had been painted on his basement wall.
When I walked up to his house, he once again offered me a glass of lemonade and this time, I accepted. I asked him about the name of the previous owners and he said “you know, I bought the house from the firm who was representing the state. I believe their name was somewhere on the paperwork but I’m not sure.”
I told him that I was trying to find Katy and my efforts had been fruitless so far. He told me to enjoy my lemonade while he looked for the paperwork. I smiled when I noticed that I had subconsciously crossed my fingers. After a few minutes, Samwell came out with a folder. He looked through it and said “it looks like their name was McGrath. Earl and Mildred McGrath.” I asked if there was any mention of the children’s names. He shook his head and said “no.”
I knew that two of the children in the painting were boys and even though I didn’t know their Christian name, they would carry the McGrath surname. The question was, were they still in the area? Phone books were a thing of the past and although, as I said, everybody’s life and personal information is available online, it would require yet another expense. I wasn’t sure it would be worth it so I more or less “put it on the back burner.”
I wasn’t quite ready to admit failure but I was close. That afternoon, I sat down in my favorite chair with a cup of freshly brewed tea and just stared out the window. It took a few minutes for me to realize that I was staring at a woman standing in front of my house. Somehow instinctively, I knew the woman was Katy.
I jumped up and ran to the door. I turned the knob but the door was stuck. I was pulling, kicking, cursing, crying and screaming for it to open but it wouldn’t budge. I started yelling to Katy, begging her not to leave…begging her to wait for me. Suddenly, the knob turned and the door finally opened.
To be continued_______________