"Diddler on the Roof" by Neal Murphy

June 9, 2021 - The phone call was received around dusk that summer afternoon in 1963. The caller was a neighbor who explained to my wife, Clara, that she was looking at a man on the roof of our house. I was watching television when my wife ran into the living room and announced that there was a man on top of our house. “What?”, I questioned, “someone on our roof?” All kinds of questions popped into my mind. This was our newly purchased house and why would someone want to get on my roof?

I had bought this, my very first house, just a few months earlier. It was a three bedroom and one bath house on Evergreen Street in Bellaire, Texas, a suburb of Houston. I paid all of $12,500 for it, and painted it for the down payment. As a new homeowner, I was not about to allow someone to disturb my tranquility.

“Call the police”, I told my wife. I retrieved my pistol and walked through the house peering out every window seeking a peek at the perpetrator, but I saw no one. The police arrived in a few minutes, and they could not locate anyone either. After a few days I put the incident behind me.

Several weeks later, our telephone rang around dusk again. It was the same neighbor with the same message. “I swear that there is a man standing on the top of your house, right above the rear door”, she explained. “I can see him silhouetted against the setting sun.” Again I got my pistol, told my wife to call the police. Then I eased out the front door ready to confront the invader.

I walked around to the back yard and noticed a teenage boy squatting down in some bushes. Then I recognized the boy as the son of another neighbor that lived behind us. I asked him what he was doing in my back yard, and his reply was “I am looking for my lost cat.”

As the police came up to me I told them who the boy was and that I probably would not file any charges. His father was a business associate, and I hesitated to cause problems for the family. So the police questioned the young man, and then turned him over to his father.

I later learned why the young lad was getting on top of my house. A pretty young girl lived in the house directly behind ours. Her bedroom window was directly in line with my back door. He would climb up on my roof and look past her café curtains into her bed room. As far as I know, this incident cured him of that little game. We received no further calls about someone diddling on our roof.