A priest held at gunpoint.
When you have the Wyatt family living near a Catholic Church you never know what to expect.
St. Joseph’s Catholic Church was three doors down from us when I was growing up in Lincoln.
There was also an Assembly of God a half a block away and around the corner.
The Northern California regional leader for the South Baptist Church lived five houses up the street.
Then there was the partially finished house almost directly across from ours and to the right that served for years as St. Joseph’s housing for Catechism classes.
That was in addition to the St. Joseph’s parish hall also across the street but to the left. The two church facilities bookended our across-the-street neighbors, the Lucas Family.
Clearly someone upstairs was dropping hints — big hints.
Both churches had no off-street parking. As a result, D Street where we lived in a block either direction from the Catholic Church allowed diagonal parking during services and other church events such as weddings and funerals.
Each church’s front doors opened almost directly to the city sidewalk. You could walk by and hear sermons, joyous sounds, and hymn singing on Sunday mornings when I clearly wasn’t in church.
Neighbors of all faiths were interwind in church activities.
Our front yard with large stately sycamores, as an example, was an annual go to place for people who couldn’t squeeze into the church while the priest was blessing that year’s Placer County Holy Ghost queen.
They were killing time during the processional that brought the big and little queen courts to the church and the large-scale parade that took them back to a chapel at McBean Park.
My parents were Methodist. Their church attendance was spotty at best. As for their kids, they didn’t insist we attend church once we were out of the first grade.
To further set the stage for what I clearly rate now as the third most embarrassing moment in my life, the home we lived in had been built during World War II.
The builder was a dentist. He had bought two lots with the intention of building his dental office on one.
That never happened.
As a result, we had a large side yard — basically an entire lot — lined on one side with roses, a grape arbor in back, and no fence blocking the view from the street. The rest of the lot was grass.
Given I got to cut it not once but twice a week it might explain why years ago when I bought my house in Manteca’s Powers Tract I tore out the grass and replaced it with low maintenance ferns and such.
Thirty-two years ago, I left my mom’s house in Lincoln for a bicycle ride up to Camp Far West Lake and back before I had to cover a Rocklin City Council meeting that evening.
Mom had gone to work before I returned.
I went into the back bathroom to shower and change.
Fortunately, I did not lock the back door that led out to the patio.
But what I did do was lock the bathroom door after I entered.
It made no sense.
And that wasn’t for the obvious reason.
My mom had been experiencing problems with the bathroom door lock for months.
My older brother was going to fix it when he got a chance. Meanwhile, there was a screwdriver that was left in the vanity drawer that you had to use if by chance the lock wouldn’t unlock and you were inside the bathroom.
I had completely stripped before entering the bathroom . In retrospect I had the foresight to grab a pair of briefs, “tighty whities” if you will.
I took my shower, dried off, put on the briefs, and went to open the door.
It wouldn’t open.
No problem, I’d just use the screwdriver as I had done a number of times before.
You guessed it. It was nowhere to be found.
No one was going to be home for hours. The meeting started in 50 minutes.
So, I decided to go out the window and get back into the house via the back door on the patio.
The original house had a full-sized basement. When the addition was built where the bathroom was located, the basement wasn’t extended but the crawl space beneath the floor was a yard off the ground.
That meant the bathroom window was a bit higher than a typical one-story house.
It was also one of the smaller windows where you used a crank arm to open one side.
I figured if I stood on the toilet seat and eased myself out feet first I could fit through the window,.
The reason I did not back out was simple. Directly below the window was a pyracantha bush I wanted to make sure I could clear.
If you don’t know what a pyracantha bush is, here’s the short rundown: It produces a lot of berries that Magpies eat and end up flying around as if they have blown a 0.30 on a DUI breath analyzer. They also have long thorns. Lots of long thorns.
I was almost to the point where I could make a jump for it after I was bracing myself with the window frame when it happened.
My briefs snagged on the window crank arm
After a few minuets of trying to lift myself up and back into the bathroom, I made a fateful decision. I was going jump for it assuming the Hanes weren’t strong enough to stay in one piece given my weight.
I looked toward the street to make sure nobody was walking by. I then let go of the window frame.
About 5 seconds later the fabric gave away after I experienced the mother of all wedgies.
Instead of clearing the pyracantha, I fell right into it.
After hitting the ground, I did two things. I immediately let out a blood curling scream and jumped up.
By then two Catholic nuns were walking by the yard.
I ended up facing the street naked as a jaybird. The nuns looked my way and then kept walking without missing a beat.
Clearly they had seen worse.
As for how a newly assigned Catholic priest ended up laying down spread eagle in front of our house with Lincoln Police pointing a shotgun at him is a story for another day.
This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org