This will leave you puzzled

I called Peabody Care Center late Friday afternoon to catch administrator Melissa Parmley and discuss some Fourth of July advertising in the Peabody Gazette-Bulletin. Peabody Care Center will again have a barbecue with entertainment and a fireworks display on the facility lawn July 3. Everyone in the community is invited. It is an appreciation event and is free.

Hold that thought.

After our discussion about advertising, she asked me whether I had my opinion column written for Wednesday’s paper because she had information about vandalism at Peabody Care Center that she wished to share. She thought people in the community should be aware of what happened.

On the scale of monetary damage, the story is nowhere near the top. On the scale of disappointment for some older people who have given to the community for years and should be enjoying small pleasures, it is huge.

After some of the ornamental bushes at the front entrance to the home died last summer in the drought, residents decided they wanted to create a small vegetable garden in space where the bushes had been. Most of them had raised gardens at their homes and looked forward to fresh produce just as every gardener does.

Early in this growing season they put out tomatoes. With the help of activities staff members Jessica Vannocker and Samantha Weerts, the group nurtured the plants, kept them watered and fed, and enthusiastically visited their crop. The tomatoes did well. During the past week, they were ripening more quickly than the residents and staff expected.

“When I came to work June 10 — a Monday — the tomatoes were just about ripe,” Parmley said. “They really did look healthy and almost perfect for slicing. I said I thought they would be ready to harvest on Tuesday. But the residents said they would not pick them on Tuesday, because I was going to be gone that day. They wanted to share that first harvest with me.”

Parmley returned to work on Wednesday to find the first tomato crop had been picked. However, the tomatoes had not been picked by the residents. They had been picked and stolen, probably during the night.

“They were right by the front door,” she said. “It had to have been done after dark, when no one was paying attention. The gardening group was so disappointed. Who would have done a thing like that?”

Who indeed? What a sad commentary about some individuals in our community. Peabody Care Center still will sponsor its free event on July 3 to express appreciation for the community and its support.

One can only hope the tomato thieves will have the decency to stay home, but I am not taking any bets.

— SUSAN MARSHALL

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