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June 1st, 1981 and Before

Submitted by on Sunday, 3 May 200911 Comments
Paul Scharff born in June of 1970

Paul Scharff born in June of 1970

My name is Paul Scharff and I am going to write about something that is important to me.

My life drastically changed from one day to the next on June 2nd, 1981.

I was born and grew up in the Chicagoland area. As early as I can remember, my father was business owner and my mother was a homemaker. My first home was in Romeoville, IL but I don’t remember it. The house that I first remember was our house in Lisle, IL. It was my mother’s parent’s house and she grew up there. My father at that time owned a tavern in Brookfield, IL. It was off of Ogden Avenue and I think Grand. The name of the bar was called Cousin’s Corner. My father opened the bar with his cousin Butch.

My father Ron Scharff, my brother Mike, and me on the of 4th of July, 1976

My father Ron Scharff, my brother Mike, and me on the of 4th of July, 1976

In 1973 my brother Mike was born. The tavern was doing well because in 1975 we moved to a new house in Downers Grove, IL. Finally, in 1977 we moved to what I call my home, McHenry, IL. This is where most my memories come from. It was a great place to grow up. We lived in this middle class neighborhood that had some real nice amenities. The neighborhood was called Val-Mar Estates. It was named after the two daughters of the developer who lived across the street. All of the houses were large houses on 1-acre parcels in this area. Our house was one of a few houses that wrapped around a horse pasture and barn. If you lived in our neighborhood you could have a horse, but we never did. I never appreciated it at the time, but it is nice to wake up and see horses in your back yard. The best thing for us is that since we did not own a horse we never had to rotate barn duty. Off to the right of the barn from back yard, we had a recreation house and pool. I loved it! It took my cousin to threaten me to move to the deep end but after that the pool and recreation house was mine. We had a diving board, which is a major luxury these days because of the insurance required. I would do front flips and back flips, off the board or from the side. My friends and I would jump our bikes in and throw patio furniture in the pool. I don’t know why we did it. Who am I kidding – it was fun!

Shane Petersen and Paul Scharff at the Snuggery in McHenry, IL. October, 2009.

Shane Petersen and Paul Scharff at the Snuggery in McHenry, IL. October, 2009.

My best friend growing up was Shane. We did everything together. His grandfather owned a gravel pit in Lakemoor, Illinois, which was pretty close to my house. I could ride my bike on the trails and get there faster then we could by car.

Shane had a brother that was the same age as my brother. We all hung out and played in the gravel pit. The pit was an ever-changing landscape of mounds of dirt and sand, and a lake that only got bigger and deeper. We liked to play war a lot. We were happy kids. I was a happy kid. I received bikes and train sets for Christmas. Everything was good.

The only rough spot that I had was that I would be shortest kid in the class if my neighbor and friend Gary grew at all. Gary helped me shoulder the responsibility of being the shortest kid in the class until JR high. I hated it when Gary grew over the summer.

In 1978 my brother Steve was born (it’s Stephen on his birth certificate but he goes by Steve).

June 2nd, 1981
Today is a very exciting day. I am ten years old, There is a half day until summer vacation starts, and in three days it is my birthday. School is going to be fun today because it is going to be recess all day long with people making plans for the summer and signing autograph books. The day has gone on with lots of laughing and playing.

Shane and I were walking back into the school when we saw our friend Danny crying. We asked him what was wrong. He said that a friend of the family had died. Her name was Pat. Shane and I were walking to the cafeteria to buy some ice cream. We bought Danny one to try and make him feel better.

Shortly after that the school principal came to my classroom and asked for me. He told me that I wasn’t in any trouble but I should go with him. He asked my teacher for my report card to take with us but I interjected that I would be in school tomorrow to get it. He said that it was ok and I could have mine now. We started walking and he told me that we were going to get my brother Mike. Our principal reviewed our report cards and commented that we were both good students. My brother and I looked at him a little surprised. As if we had another choice other than to do well! When we made it to the principal’s office, we saw a family friend that we had not seen in a long time. It was Kurtis and he was going to take us back to our house. We hadn’t seen Kurtis for a couple of years but that could be decades as far as a kid is concerned. We were very excited to see him and he seemed happy to see us too. It was a short ride to our house and when we got there; my Aunt Faye was at the house. We asked Kurtis to stay but he told us that he had to go. We said goodbye and went inside the house with my aunt. We had not seen our aunt for as long as we had not seen Kurtis. This was turning out to be a very exciting day!

As I walked into the kitchen, I noticed that the window screen was knocked out of the window. I asked my aunt about it, and she told me not to worry about it – that it would be fixed. Minutes later, my aunt’s husband, Uncle Tom, showed up to the house. He had Hostess Snowballs for my brother and I. Unfortunately, I don’t like coconut – but I thought it was a nice thought nonetheless.

I asked my Uncle Tom if he knew what happened to the screen on the window. He told me that he had to get in the house through the window because the door was locked. It seemed odd and I wondered why my aunt had evaded such a simple explanation. Surely she had seen Uncle Tom climb through the window.

I looked out front to our U-shaped drive way. I saw a series of big cars pull up . My mother’s Lincoln was the second or third car among the Crown Victoria’s and similar type of cars. My mother got out of one of the other cars. I do not remember who was driving my mother’s car, but I was surprised she had allowed anyone else to drive it. She was coming back from bowling and had my brother Steve with her. My brother Mike and I ran out to meet her. As we ran out to greet her we found her noticeably upset. She looked at us and said “Your father was k…” She did not get the full sentence out before we all hysterically started crying. I remember my brother Steve who was 2 ½ at the time, did not know what was going on but started to scream and cry. He started to run off heading down the hill of our yard. A few of us ran after him. I do not remember who caught him but somebody did.

My day and I turned dark black.

Amazon link to Murder In McHenry

This is the Amazon link to the book Murder In McHenry by Paul Scharff and Keith Bettinger

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11 Comments »

  • Richard Gabor says:

    Wow! Strong stuff. I had to walk away from the computer between when I was done reading your story and when I began typing this comment. You are a truly strong person to have gone through this and come out so. . . clear headed. (I wanted to say ‘normal’, but hey, I knew you growing up. Ha! Had to add a little levity to this.)

    I am continually passing along all of this information to everyone in my email list to help this situation come to an end.

    Take the best of care and peace to you and your family.

    Richard

  • Paul Scharff says:

    Thanks for reading it Richard I really appreciate it!

  • Bobbi B says:

    Paul… I can only imagine how difficult it must be to recall the details. If only there was anything at all that could be said to make it feel better. I love you and hope we’re all able to help you resolve this!

  • Paul Scharff says:

    Love you too Bobbi,
    Thank you for all your kind words and help. Knowing that people like yourself care, makes it all easier.

  • Wow! Great write up, Paul!

  • Paul Scharff says:

    Thank You for your comments, I do appreciate them. I really glad to see my friends from the http://www.jurorthirteen.com are visiting!

  • Shane Petersen says:

    Paul….. What a horrible day, I have tears in my eyes as I’m typing this.I remember every second of that last day of school that was supposed to be so “happy,” looking forward to the summer of carelessly playing together. Listening on the radio as they talked about the murders that took place in Lakemoore, calling you to let you know what I thought Danny was so upset about, you answering the phone crying and telling me your father was murdered also. it was so devastating and still is, I was so close to you and felt like I had lost a father too. So glad to be back in touch with you and so sorry we had fallen out of touch for so long ,love you buddy .Gotta go my son has a track meet and my wife and daughter are waiting for me in the car,I’ll talk to you later.
    Shane

  • Paul Scharff says:

    Hey Shane,
    It certainly was an eventful day. I recall that day perfectly all the way up to the point that my mom finally got home and told me that my father was killed. From there things are recalled from a third person perspective. I don’t remember your phone call. Which is not comprehensiable to me. I know that either I would call you or you would call me but I just don’t remember. I had to be in shock and I think that I was like that for days. It was pretty bad. I don’t know if you remember but you had to tell me that you were at my father’s wake. After you had told me that you were there, I can only visualize your mother walking through the funeral home’s parlor. It makes a little sense that I would only see her because I would slip in and out of tunnel vision. I think that this all remarks to how out of it I was. Man, what a time, it saddens me to think about incoherent that I was. How would I not remember you!

    There is something I need to tell you about that we didn’t understand as kids. I know why we never saw Curtis again and why it seemed like he just disappeared. It actually relates back the murder of my father. Remind me to tell you off line. Nothing that could not be publicly said but not easy to explain in a comments section.

    I want to thank you for reaching out to me Shane. It means allot to me and I am too sorry for being out of touch so long. I will shoot you my number and you can call me so we can talk. Take care Buddy and I love you too.

    Paul

  • Okay… now you both have me crying!

    Cloey

  • Dojewo says:

    Paul a very touching story

  • Paul Scharff says:

    Thank you for your encouragement, I really do appreciate it. I am really glad to see my friends from http://www.jurorthirteen.com reading my blog. Thank J13!!

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