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When a vehicle with the words "Bomb Squad" affixed visibly rolls into Culver, it gets everyone talking.
That's what happened earlier this month after well-known Culver resident and retired Culver Academies Fine Arts instructor Anne Duff spoke to Culver town marshal Wayne Bean about a historic artifact long in the family. At the center of attention was a World War II hand grenade given to Duff's late husband Charles -- also an artist and art instructor at the Academy -- by Charles' father, Ray Duff Sr., who had served in the war in Guam. Anne says she's sure her father-in-law assumed the grenade was a "dud," which it might well have been. But some things are best left not up to chance.
When the Duffs' son Jeremy was going through some things at Anne's Lakeview Street home, the grenade -- which she had forgotten about -- turned up.
"We'd been carrying it around in cardboard boxes as we moved from one place to another," she recalls.
So she asked another retired Academies stalwart, Sgt. Mark Click, to take a look.
"He said if it were a training one, it would have a hole in the bottom, and it felt quite heavy," she notes. He described the anatomy of a grenade (and) put it gently on its side in the garage...he said if he threw it, it would have blown us up, if it were live."
She says Click "kindly alerted the police station" about the grenade. Eventually, Bean suggested the bomb squad in South Bend be called. By then it had been several days since the grenade's discovery and "I was very nervous," says Duff.
"We were looking at it in the garage and a transformer blew on the next street north, and we jumped a mile!"
About an hour after the call, the bomb squad truck arÂrived on Lakeview Street with a trailer containing "a thing that looked like a landmine...with 'Bomb Squad' written on it. The back of it opened rather like in a James Bond movie, and they put the grenade in. It caused a certain exÂcitement in the neighborhood!"
Even the bomb squad team wasn't sure if the grenade was, in fact, live. They would, they said, take it to South Bend and detonate it with enough gun powder to be sure the job was done.
Disaster averted, everyone relaxed a bit, and Anne Duff has taken the whole thing -- which was "the talk of the town" for the next several days -- in somewhat humorous stride.
"The bomb squad people hadn't been in Culver before," she adds with a chuckle. "There was some talk that they would drive around lake with it before going back home."