Welcome to The Miller House
Don Lehman, 2018


Cover Index
Chapter 01
Chapter 02
Chapter 03
Chapter 04
Chapter 05
Chapter 06
Chapter 07
Chapter 08
Chapter 09
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21

Chapter Eleven

Someone knew who stole Mr. Sutton’s equipment and had called the police with anonymous tip. It happened just after lunch. Now at the dinner table with Francis, Carl, Big Frank and a new guest, Mr. Sutton was the center of attention. He told how he had started asking around town during the morning and did not get any information. He had stopped at the post office and talked with some locals then went on to a drug store and a hardware store. At lunch, he went to a diner hoping he might overhear a conversation that would lead to the culprit. He had a good egg salad sandwich and a slice of apple pie but no information. After lunch he decided to stop by the police department to see if they were making any headway and, bingo! The police chief told him they were about to come looking for him. Someone, they didn’t know who, had called in and told them who stole the cameras and where they were hidden. Mr. Sutton said, he followed the chief and one of his lieutenants as the drove directly to a residence only three blocks from where they were sitting now, at the table, in the Miller House. The police Chief and lieutenant walked up to the front door and knocked. Mr. Sutton said he hung back and left them do all the talking. A woman came to the door and the chief asked her if they could speak with a Mr. Lester Lorry. Cappy said, “I know the Lorrys. Mr. and Mrs. Lorry are good people but Lester is a bad egg.” Mr. Sutton continued, “The woman said she was Mrs. Lorry but Lester was her husband’s brother who was staying with them for a time while he was trying to get his life straightened out. Then she said I’m sorry but he’s not here, he will probably be back tonight. Then the Chief said, “Mam, do you mind if we take a little look around in your garage, back there behind the house?” She said, “I don’t know what this is about but you go right ahead.” Big Frank was smiling and said, “The police knew the cameras were in the garage?” “That’s right,” Mr. Sutton responded, “they knew it was all hidden in the attic part of the garage. Mrs. Lorry couldn’t believe her eyes. When they propped up a ladder and moved some boards around, they started handing those three cameras down and then the two tripods!” Everyone around the table was smiling and happy for Mr. Sutton, even the new guest who had just learning about the whole affair. Francis said they would celebrate with some cake and ice cream! Carl could not believe how the whole thing turned out. Something seemed fishy to him and it seemed like Ozzie might know something about it all. Mr. Sutton told Carl that he would develop the film and make the pictures the next day, then he would go to the police station, pick up his equipment and be on his way. The police had kept the stolen equipment until they could talk to the thief who they were pretty sure would be Lester Lorry. It turns out he had just got out of jail a few weeks before and that’s why he was staying with his brother and his family.

The next morning, Mr. Sutton came to breakfast in work clothes ready to work on the pictures. Even in work clothes he was a sight with his long hair and beard. This morning he had his hair tied back. He told Carl that he would need five gallons of room temperature water. so Carl carries several buckets of water out to the truck and Mr. Sutton filled a tank on the shelf next to the chemicals. Carl had his hair tied back too. Then they went in to breakfast

Big Frank finished his breakfast and filled a thermos with hot coffee. Then he shook Mr. Sutton’s hand and said he was going to have to wait until he returned in four weeks to see the picture. Francis came out of the kitchen drying her hands on her apron. Then she slipped the apron off and surprised Carl by walking out onto the porch to say goodbye to Big Frank. The fancy glass in the big front door made things kind of blurry but Carl could make out Francis giving Big Frank a long goodbye hug. Cappy was already sitting in his favorite lounge chair with a cup of coffee. He was talking to the new guest and saying he thought Mr. Sutton’s story might be be in the paper today. Carl finished clearing the table.

When Francis came back in she told Carl to get ready to go on out and watch Mr. Sutton make the pictures. Carl headed on out to the truck. The back doors were open and Mr. Sutton was wearing a black, rubber apron and sitting on a low stool. He had the film holder stacked on a table opposite the enlarger. Mr. Sutton started explaining everything he was doing. “It’s best to have a wet table and a dry table in your darkroom,” he started. “Over here, I have all the chemicals on the wet side and behind me, On the dry table, I load the film and keep the enlarger and photo paper. It’s best to be organized, especially in a tiny space like this.” Carl watch him measure out the chemicals and mix in the water. When he had the chemicals ready, he turned around and picked up the stack of film holders. He set up the developing tank and had the film racks ready. He explained to Carl that, in the dark, He would take the film out of the holders and slide them into the racks, in the developing tank. Do you want to stay while it’s dark?” Carl said that he did. He had three brown class beakers on the shelf. He said the first beaker was the developer, the next was the stop bath and the third was the fixer that made the image permanent. There was a tray of water that he would wash the film in after it was developed. Carl closed the doors. It was totally dark. Carl could hear clicking as Mr. Sutton removed the film from the holders and onto the rack the placing the racks in the tank. Carl heard some sloshing sounds and he moved the film through the chemical baths. Mr. Sutton told Carl what was he was doing and hummed a little when he wasn’t talking. Soon he said, “The film is developed and it is now in the water bath. You may reopen the doors. Carl opened the doors and the sudden morning light made him squint his eyes. Mr. Sutton said we will need to change the water a few times to rinse all the chemicals off the film. Then we can hang the film up to dry.” Carl got out of the truck as Mr. Sutton was changing the water, washing the film sheets. Then climbing out of the truck and told Carl they needed to wait a few hours until the film dried, then they could make the pictures. He said “We can watch the pictures appear under the red light, you will like that part!” Carl said, “ok!” He was a little distracted by then because when he climbed out of the truck, he saw Ozzie standing across the street.

Mr. Sutton headed into the house and Carl waved to Ozzie. When he crossed the street, the first thing he said was, “I couldn’t come yesterday, I had something important to do.” Carl asked, “What was it?” But Ozzie said, “I can’t tell you right now.” Carl told him that Mr. Sutton got all his stolen equipment back. Ozzie said, “I know.” Then Carl told him that he was watching Mr. Sutton work on the pictures. Ozzie asked Carl if he was still going to give him his old bike and Carl said, “Sure, I worked on it yesterday and it’s almost ready for a coat of paint, just needs a little more sanding off the rust. Ozzie asked if he could help and Carl said that they could work on it more the next day. Ozzie said he could come back at one o’clock, then he stuck out his hand and Carl stuck out his hand and the shook on it.

Carl was pretty sure Ozzie would show up this time, but today, after lunch, when the film was dry, he would get to watch Mr. Sutton make the pictures. When they were eating their sandwiches, Francis said, “I noticed your friend, Ozzie was back. You can invite him in, I’d like to meet him. What is his last name and where does he live?” Carl had never had a friend his age and certainly not into the house. He said, “ I don’t know his last name and I don’t know exactly were he lives. I only know he lives a few blocks from here.” Mr. Sutton joined them for lunch but Cappy had gone back down to the Woolworth lunch counter. Mr. Sutton said, I’ll be leaving later today after I make the pictures. Francis said, “it’s been nice having you here and thanks for taking our pictures. We will hang them on the wall here next to the table. If the police haven’t wrapped up the case, you are welcome to stay another night” Mr. Sutton just said, “Thanks you Mam” and “I think you photographs will look wonderful on the wall here.”

About an hour later they were back in the truck in the dark with the little red light. Mr. Sutton called it the safe light because it did not effect the photo paper. Mr. Sutton started with the picture of Francis and Carl. He put one of the pieces of the film in the enlarger and focused the light. Carl could see the picture projected down on the counter top but it looked strange because all the light parts were dark and the dark parts were light. Mr. Sutton explained the it was still negative and when it was projected onto the photo paper it would become a positive image and would look natural. He pulled out a large piece of white paper from a black box and laid it on the counter top under the enlarger. Then he set the timer for forty-five seconds. He said, “We must hold still during the exposure so there is no vibration to blur the picture.” At the end of the forty-five seconds he moved the sheet of photo paper to the wet side where he had three trays of chemicals. He put the paper in the first tray and said, “Ok Carl, here comes the magic.” By this time, Carl’s eyes were accustomed to the dim red light and he watch the white paper turn to a perfect picture of his mother and him. Mr. Sutton used a pair of tongs to lift the paper out of the first chemical and slide it into the second chemical, the stop bath, then a third, the fixer to fix the image and make it permanent. There was one more tray under the counter filled with water. Mr. Sutton said this tray is filled with clean water that flows from the larger tank they had filled. We must wash all the chemicals out of the paper and then hang the paper up to dry. Mr. Sutton then told Carl he could climb out of the truck while he made the other two pictures. Carl thanked him for allowing him to watch! He thought Mr. Sutton had the best job and he was clearly a skillful artist. Carl went back into the house and tried to tell Francis what he had seen!

Carl got busy with his afternoon chores then he would have a little free time before dinner. That’s when he would go to his favorite spots, in the garage second floor or on the sun porch in a comfortable rattan chair with cushions. He was currently half way through Treasure Island and the exciting story of pirates. Mr. Barkley, the book seller had given it to him and said, “If you like this book by Robert Louis Stephenson, I’ll give you a copy of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, that’ll give you a scare!” He looked forward to Mr. Barkley’s arrivals at their Miller house. He always had books to read. When Carl wasn’t drawing pictures, he was reading fiction, biographies and textbooks. He drew pictures or read an hour or two every day! On this day, he was in the sunroom at the back of the house. Carl heard Mr. Sutton talking with his mother.

When Carl put down his book and went back into the house he saw Francis and Mr. Sutton at the far end of the ballroom looking at pictures that were laying on the dining table. When Carl got to the table his mother put her arm around him and said, “Carl, just look at the beautiful pictures Mr. Sutton has made for us! The photograph of Carl and his mother was the largest and placed in the center with smaller pictures of Big Frank and Francis on one side and Carl and Cappy on the other. Mr Sutton had put the big picture in a fancy frame and the two smaller ones in matching simpler frames. He said that he would help hang them before leaving. Carl just stood next to his mother and looked. They were wonderful pictures. Carl examined the detail in the photograph where he and Cappy stood with his Green Phantom - even though the pictures were black and white the Green Phantom looked amazing! He decided that he did want to invite Ozzie into the house and he would show him the photographs. After Francis looked at the big photograph of her and Carl, she leaned over and look carefully at the picture of herself with Big Frank. Carl noticed the she was smiling. Big Frank was smiling right back at her!

Mr. Sutton then took hammer and little hooks out of a tool bag and hung the pictures where Francis said she wanted them. Francis and Carl, both shook hands with Mr. Sutton and Francis told him again how happy she was that he got his cameras back. Francis said that she hoped he would come back the next time he was passing though. He assured her that he would! Carl just smiled and said, “Th-Thank you! Mr. Sutton said he’d just about had enough of the traveling business. Customers were harder to find and people were buying cameras and taking their own pictured. He said, “People are filling albums with family snapshots and they don’t value my professional services. If I had the money, I’d settle down and open a studio in a town like Greenville.” Francis said that she was real pleased with the pictures and she was sure he would have a successful business. Just before he turned to leave he smiled and said, “Well, I don’t always get to work with people as attractive as you and hour handsome son, Miss Miller!” Carl looked at Francis, she was happy and it appeared that she was pleased by the compliment.

  Chapter 12