Recollections of a Small Town
SCARY OLD FARM HOUSE
On a strip of land which young and adventurous boys thought of as
no man’s land, harking to images of the first Great War, an abandoned farm
house sat ghostly in the moonlight reflected from windows, the few with
a bit of glass left unbroken. When and by whom it was owned and deserted
was never known to me.
We lads knew only that it was strictly forbidden to go near the place.
Of course that was all the encouragement needed to do it anyway. It was
there! Dangers lurked in the yard. A heel planted on a rusty plow point
was sure to produce a bruise. A sliver of glass might slice a toe, in which
case a sneak raid on the iodine bottle and good acting kept the folks from
There were few noxious weeds, thanks to flint and quartz ground to
sand and resting atop hard red clay. Arrowheads were common, but none better
than rejects by an ancient craftsman.
The house begged to be explored and we did it, scared and curious
in equal parts. The house in its time was quite handsome and spacious.
A broad hall led to rooms on either side and a kitchen to the rear,
Stairs mounted to four upper rooms, all of good size. Successful
farming required successful breeding, so bedrooms may house three or more
sons and likewise daughters. Three of the rooms above stairs were too dilapidated
to chance, but one was solid and worth a look around we believed.
It was unrewarding and unpleasant. The place seemed to be a hobo
stopover, with evidence of canned beans and primitive toilet habits attested
by human and canine feces scattered at random. No hidden treasures, no
ghostly rapping, just gross squalor.
Years later I heard the house had either burned or been demolished.
No one cared which. An arsonist would be forgiven, a wrecking crew would
not have had much to do in flattening the place. Who owned the place and
why it simply sat and rotted I never knew.
Possibly a family dispute over a sliver of land between two working
farms. Maybe one of those sad effects of the Civil War: Land that was just
left when the family walked to Tennessee for a fresh start.
Sept. 1, 2007
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