Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween: Lagrange repost

Someone suggested I repost my Lagrange story for Halloween. But first, let us remember the origins of this festive holiday.

About seven hundred years ago, a young lad named Alexander and his peeps William and Gamel, also known as G-dawg, would go around spray painting graffiti on people's moat bridges. They had to disguise themselves because Alexander's dad, also named Alexander, was a vassal. And if he found out about the kids' mischief, well, needless to say, there would be big trouble.

It became a big problem around the fief, also known as the 'hood. Manor Watch was never able to catch the kids. So at some point, people began to offer the boys candy. In exchange, the boys agreed not to deface their moat bridges. And the tradition of Halloween was born.

So, here's to you Alexander, William, and Gamel. I have a big bowl of Reese's cups at home. And if my number of trick-or-treaters doesn't surpass last year's total of nine, I'll be eating most of it myself.

Here's my Lagrange story. Originally posted July 8, 2005...

What you are about to read is real. Some names have been altered so as to avoid federal prosecution. Exact times and dates have become hazy over the years. But what is crystal clear are the events that transpired on a late night and early morning during the winter of 1994. This is a story of curiosity, adventure, and dangerous naivety. Proceed if you dare.

Over the years, LaGrange had gained somewhat of a fabled status among the youths in the area. Oft-repeated tales of ghosts, animal sacrifices, and devil worshippers sparked not only fear, but also morbid curiosity. The legend grew to mythical proportions.

It was January or February, a very cold night, whatever the month. A friend of mine, we'll call him Little Joe, and I were bored one Friday night. Around 10:00 PM, our curiosity and stupidity got the best of us and we decided to venture to LaGrange.

LaGrange was the first chartered college in the state of Alabama. From what I have read it originally served as a military academy. Once the Civil War began, most students left to serve in the war and it was turned into an all-girls school. That only lasted a short time as Union soldiers burned it down a couple of years later.

Now there are basically only a couple of deserted buildings, a cemetery, and a park remaining. It is located on a "spur" of the Cumberland mountains.

Entering LaGrange, once you leave the main highway, you are traveling almost immediately uphill. There are just a handful of houses, then you pass a deserted building that (I assume) was part of the college. Shortly after that, the paved road ends, and you enter into a dense area of overgrown weeds and trees.

Probably about a half mile after that, the dirt road forks. To the left and up the mountain a little way is the cemetery. I have never known what was straight ahead. For some reason, that night, we decided we would find out.

After driving up to the cemetery and walking around for a little while, we got back in the car and started out. The deserted buildings and the cemetery had been scary, but no real big deal. Well, when we got back to the T in the road, rather than going right and going home, Little Joe decided to see what was to the left.

I can't recall if it had rained or snowed, but whichever it was, the road was muddy. We paused for a moment and I tried to talk him out of it. I told him if we got stuck, there was no way I was going to get out and push the car. Well, he didn't listen.

We turned left, got no more than 30 or 40 feet down the road and realized this road was in extremely bad condition. It was much muddier than the other roads and there were deep tire tracks, more like trenches, which we were following.

Little Joe agreed to turn around. But the road was so narrow that there was no way to. So he would have to back it out. He put it in reverse. And the car wouldn't move. It had bottomed out, as the tires had sunk deep down into the muddy trenches. So there we were, stuck. Deep in these eerie woods, with all the horror stories I had ever heard about this place running through my head.

I kept my word at first, and made Little Joe push, but he couldn't budge it. Finally, I got out of the car and tried to help. Still wouldn't move. We had two options. We could lock the doors and stay in the car until daylight, or we could start walking. We decided on the latter.

I remembered a little store that we had passed on the side of the main highway. I wasn't sure how far it was, and it wouldn't be open at this hour, but maybe there would be a payphone we could use. Keep in mind, this was before cell phones were commonplace. So we got all the change we could find out of the car and started walking. That was the most scared I have ever been.

I have never heard so many weird noises and so many things moving. We didn't have a flashlight or anything. It was just us on a dark, narrow dirt road, surrounded on both sides by weeds and trees that seemed to have eyes. Finally, after what seemed like an hour, but was probably only like ten minutes, we reached a house, and that felt a little safer.

A few minutes more and we reached the main highway. And thought we could see the light from the store down the road. It looked a lot closer than it was. I think one time a few weeks later we drove out there and checked to see how far we had walked. Seems like it ended up being like 3 or 4 miles.

Let me insert here that during this time I was going through my heavy country music phase, and was wearing western boots that were about a half-size too small for my feet. Anyway, I don't remember exactly when we got to the store. Seems like it was a little after midnight. Thankfully, there was a payphone.

We decided to call a friend of ours. Let's call him Ben. It was a long distance call. Pooling all our change together, we had just enough money to make the call and have like twenty cents leftover. I called. Ben's mother answered. He was asleep. I asked her to wake him.

Ben came to the phone. I told him our situation, that we were stranded, and had used all of our money to call him. He said OK and that he would come to pick us up. But something in his tone of voice had me worried. 12:45. 1:00. 1:30. Nothing. No sign of Ben. That loser! He had left us there to die.

Let me remind you that it was now officially freezing. There was a wooden bench in front of the store that I laid on while we thought of what to do. From here, we were probably about 30 minutes from home, by car. It was now closing in on 2:00 AM. We pondered hitching a ride with an 18-wheeler, as we had seen on TV or in the movies. But decided to call a friend of Little Joe's. Let's call him Hoss.

I charged the call to my parents phone number. Hoss was thought to be more reliable than Ben, so we were hopeful. 2:00. 2:15. 2:45. No sign of Hoss. Finally, around 3:00, a van pulled up to the store. It was a guy delivering newspapers. I decided to tell him our situation. I told him we were waiting on someone to come get us, but that it didn't look like they were coming.

He said he had a few more stops to make in the immediate area, then he would be heading to a town which was about halfway home for us. He would stop back by in a little while, and if we were still waiting, he would give us a ride as far as there.

So we froze for about another hour. Thankfully, the newspaper guy showed up and we rode in the back of a gutted out van for about fifteen minutes. At least we were closer to home. And there was heat. Until he dropped us off. It was probably about 4:15 by now. He let us out at a store that he said would open around 5:00.

When the store owner showed up, he let us in to use the phone. It was now a local call, so we called Hoss again. He was just getting back home. He said he had been driving up and down the road, but couldn't find us. Turns out he wasn't going far enough. He had been turning around just before he got to the store we had walked to. So anyway, we told him where we were now. And he showed up about fifteen minutes later and took us home.

The next day when Little Joe went back to get his car, the back window was broken and several items had been stolen.

"Ten years ago on a cold dark night, someone was killed 'neath the town hall light..."


  1. I could hear the horror story theme music playing the entire time I read this. :)

    It also made me think of little boys sitting around a campfire holding a flashlight under their chins and speaking in low, solemn voices.

    Nice job! I love Halloween. Have fun with those trick or treaters.

  2. I had forgotten all about your Lagrange story! Which just shows I should spend more time re-reading your archives.

    I had also forgotten about you wearing the boots. Hey, kid, were you in a pair of Wranglers, too??

    I laughed my tail off reading your summary of the origins of Halloween. I now know more about trick-or-treating than I ever cared to. :)

    Thanks for keeping us informed!

  3. oh it's even better with the photos bone!

  4. thanks for the history lesson. Have you thought about beginning Bone's esoteric true or not fact dot com? was very very funny

    and why is it always Hoss to the rescue? I mean in real life too--well Bonanza. Little Joe might have gotten the girls, but Hoss could be depended on--I think

    and only for you will I go through all these comment verification steps--word press :-)

    good to remember your heavy country stage

    and would really love to know more about the Cumberland mountains, and uh, what's a spur, exactly?

  5. I've got nothing. Just be sure to share the reese's. And please, let's discuss the wranglers. I bet you loved bluegrass and little baby ducks, too.

  6. Traveling Chica: It rained here most of the night. I only had two trick-or-treaters. One dressed as Larry the Cable Guy. lol

    A Fan: Well, I'm sure if I was wearing boots that I was wearing Wranglers.

    Not many people know that origin of Halloween story. But a few more people know it now :)

    Pia: Actually, I'm hoping to land a job as a writer for The Daily Show :)

    Good point about Hoss. And I don't know what a spur is exactly. I got that line directly from the website.

    Palseeeeeee: I'm planning a post about my fashion evolution soon. Stay tuned.

  7. YOU. who run up the stairs to get away from 'feinds', went into a graveyard? wow. ;)

    Come by and vote for my costume today, PLEASE. :)

  8. Hey Bone!

    Cool story...I too feel enlightened now that I know the true origin of Halloween!

    Cowboy boots in the mud is like skis on snow...no traction...not that I would know...

    Rock ON!

  9. Wow! If you had decided to stay in the car...you could have been murdered by the deranged person who stole the stuff from the car!!!

    I wonder if Ben had done the same as Hoss and just not gone far enough to find you. I have to wonder what part of "we went to LaGrange" they both didn't get...you don't turn around until you reach LaGrange. right? Oh well, you're home safe and sound now.

    And for Carmen's comment, I'm betting that you were fine and normal until the trip to LaGrange...right?

  10. It is still a spooky story!

    Thanks for the advice last night. I'll keep you posted.

  11. Carmen: I was young and stupid :-)

    RockDog: Ah, you've definitely worn cowboy boots before. They are indeed super slick.

    Renee: No, knowing Ben, I think back to bed was as far as he went.

    Geez, mention running up the stairs one time, and people never forget :)

    HotPinkSox: I wouldn't put too much stock in my advice :)

  12. I'm pretty sure that we've heard about you running back up the stairs a few more times than just once...and I know you've mentioned the door before ;)

    I think that PB&J's has been done...at least I've seen it on the Food Network before. Too bad, it would have been wonderful to get the royalties from it.

  13. great story bone--even the history part! now I got to work on the three word project.

  14. Creepy!!!!! At least you got home safe. BTW, I will post a picture of the snow when it starts to stick. The ground has to freeze first before the snow will start to stick. But it will freeze and stick soon :) I promise you a picture when it does!

  15. Renee: Really? Well, that's OK. I have a few more ideas in my hopper. Like one that could very well put an end to maritime oil spills.

    Sage: Thanks, Sage. Looking forward to it.

    Jen: OK! Evidently, I love snow or something :)

  16. You know this is my favorite. I even linked to it in my current post.

    And I like Wranglers. ;)