Memories of an Unsettling House

Not the same house, but very similar in design.

When I was about 11 or 12 my dad bought a big two story house in the small town of Lincoln, Arkansas. It was right next door to my Gran’s house, except for a vacant lot that sat between the two houses and served as a great place for baseball, football, and any other leisure activity you could think of.

We lived quite a long distance from this house and weekends were spent going down and ‘camping out’ in the house while dad renovated the house for us. It was fun. We slept on camp beds and by the time Monday had come along, everyone was glad to go back to their regular pursuits.

The house itself could be a bit unsettling. Hell, to call a spade a spade, it could be just downright scary. The family who’d lived in the house before we bought it had a son. This young man was a bit off in left field. That is the kindest way I can think to put it.

The detached garage that came with the house had been graffitied from the floor up to and including the ceiling. Swastika’s filled just about every free space. A number of statements that declared that all Jewish people must die fought for equal billing on the garage’s interior. To step into that place was a gooseflesh inducer. It felt creepy, wrong and on some deeper level, scary.

Going into the house and upstairs to the bedrooms we found that two of the rooms led right to the attic. The attic and one bedroom was filled with iron crosses. These crosses had all been stolen from Civil Wargraves throughout the regions cemetery’s. I cannot remember the reason they’d been stolen. I don’t know if it was for the metal or for some other arcane and disturbing reason.

The crosses looked exactly like these but were all metal.

A few phone calls later and the crosses were on their way home. It had apparently been baffling police for sometime as to who had taken the crosses and where they might be. I am pretty sure that they were all put back on the graves they were taken from.

On the same day that we found the garage shrine to Hitler and the Civil War crosses, I found the puzzle box lid. The caption or name of the puzzle has long since vanished in the recesses of my memory. The actual picture on the box lid of the puzzle, has not.

The scene was set in a ‘Hammer’ version of a Victorian England graveyard. A red brick mausoleum lurked in the background amid bushes and trees. In the foreground a werewolf moved through the gravestones toward some unsuspecting victim. Doesn’t sound too bad does it?

But, it was.

The amount of detail was incredible. The werewolf looked as though he could leap off the box lid and rip your throat out. The amount of blood and gore dripping from his claws and mouth attested to the fact that he had already attacked someone. The eyes in his furry face rolled madly and he literally scared the crap out of me. As I sat looking at this box lid, my brother had wandered to the back of the closet where we’d found this horror puzzle box lid.

He found more Civil War crosses and as I moved to see what he’d found, the closet door slammed shut and we were trapped in the closet. I kicked the door, but as the closet was not very deep, I couldn’t get enough power behind the kicks to pop the door back open. We tried yelling for help and even banged on the floor with one of the very heavy crosses.

After what seem like an eternity, my father came upstairs looking for my brother and me. By this time we were so hoarse that all we could manage was a quiet, ‘help.’ We were let out and my father made note of the fact that the door handles on the closet were the wrong kind and set about removing the one currently on the door.

When we next came to see the house the box lid with its monstrous werewolf had vanished.

When I asked my dad, he could not remember seeing it, but was of the opinion that it had belonged to the ‘black sheep’ son of the previous family. He then told me a story about the young man.

“Seems this boy drove his motorcycle over the state border into Oklahoma. He went to one of the ‘Indian’ towns there and parked his bike on the main drag. There was a Pool Hall there and he could see a load of boys from the area playing pool. After a minute or two of watching the local Indians play pool through the hall’s plate glass window, he decided to go in. The second he gets in the room he starts singing, ‘One little, two little, three little Indians…’ He didn’t get any further than that. One of the braves broke a pool cue over his face and he got thrown through the plate glass window.”

Dad stopped there and wiped his forehead, “What a crazy-assed thing to do.” He looked at me and smiled. “You know,” he said, “they still haven’t found his motorbike, but, he’s still got the scars from that night.”

I know what he meant. After all the years since we lived in that house and some of the downright strange and scary things that happened there, I still have memories that are like long healed scars. The puzzle box lid for instance. I only have to close my eyes and the lid leaps to the front of my mental eye. I can recall just about every detail of that damned werewolf. The slobber that ran from his mouth, the blood and gore that dripped from his claws and chin, and the torn  bloody state of his clothes.

Not long ago I had the brilliant idea of Googling this particular image and got absolutely nothing back. I even varied my search. Still nothing. That’s okay though. If I was a better artist, I could draw from memory the image of the box lid. But to be really honest? I’m glad I don’t have that talent. Like everything else that this strange young man had touched, it just seemed wrong.

I also hope that whatever strange phase this fellow was going through, that he outgrew it, or at the very least grew up and lost interest. If he hasn’t, I hope I never bump into him.

At night.

In the dark. 

Excuse me pal. You gotta light?

Neil Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012) Gone But Never Forgotten

I was sad to hear that Neil Armstrong died yesterday. He was a true American hero and pioneer. He will be missed but he will live on in the history books of the world as the man who walked on the moon and said those iconic words as he planted the American flag on the moon’s surface.

I say that he was a hero. Of course he was. My somewhat limited definition of a hero is pretty straightforward. A hero is an individual who generations of schoolchildren and other more adult people look up to. They are touched by their achievements and strive to live their lives as the hero in question does.

I also say that he was a pioneer. My definition of a pioneer is also quite straightforward. As a child raised on stories of the settlers in the early years of America making their way across a country so vast to find places that no man had seen before, Armstrong fall in that category easily. He was making his way across space.

All the astronauts were heroes and pioneers, and they still are. Like the Star Trek narration states at the beginning of every episode, “To boldly go where no man has gone before.”

I was ten, almost eleven, years old when the moon landing was televised worldwide. I can remember sitting with my parents in front of the television and watching the ‘scratchy’ and noise filled images that came from space of these brave men and their first steps on the moon.

All of us in the room that day were excited and fearful. No one knew what this might mean to the world. We had not only broken our earthly boundary but we’d landed on another ‘planet.’ We were all very proud to be Americans that day. The first country in the world to put a real man on the moon to interact the the existing ‘man’ on the moon.

I do remember, much to my embarrassment, that just after Neil Armstrong had utter those words destined to go into the history books, I turned to my parents and said, “How come we can land on the moon, but we can’t get a decent picture of it? Why is it so fuzzy?” If I remember correctly I think both my parents laughed and then told me to ‘Quieten down’ until the broadcast was finished.

You can read books that were written about that time that have nothing to do with space and a lot of them will have made a reference to that event. The date 20 July 1969 is an important date for all of mankind not just for America. I remember reading a book by John Ketwig called …and a hard rain fell: A GI‘s True Story of the War in Vietnam. In it he tells of walking around the countryside in Thailand and telling, and showing with the aid of matches and a rubber band,  local villagers about the moon landing.

Neil Armstrong hero, pioneer, father, brother, man. Like Icarus, he flew and challenged the Gods. His words, “One small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” Will be his legacy for generations to come.  Neil has made his last journey, one that has taken him higher than the moon.

Neil Armstrong gone, but never forgotten. RIP great man, we’ll remember you as long as we breathe. I know for certain that I will.

So reddit Will Remove any More Articles About Higgs/CERN?

Image representing Reddit as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

I’ve always kind of liked reddit. It was a good way to drive traffic to your blog site. They usually did a pretty good job and were only ever occasionally matched by StumbleUpon. But this afternoon, reddit released this statement on their r/science page –  Announcement: We’re being flooded with Higgs/CERN submissions. Don’t submit more of them, since at the moment all of them will be removed.

What…the…Fudge?? Okay, I can kind of understand the site crashing from too much input. But to remove content because they are receiving too many submissions sounds a bit funny to me.

Are reddit practising some sort of censorship or are they not happy that so much fuss is being made of the Higgs boson particle. I do know that not everyone is happy about yesterdays turn of events. I’ve gotten two rather boorish comments on my last blog post, which coincidentally dealt with the question of the new particle and religion.

I’ve been blogging for about a year and a half now and this is the first time, I’ve ever gotten any negative comments. To be honest I was prepared for it. There are a lot of people who don’t like you to question religion at all. And the fact that I questioned that very subject in my last blog lead me to believe that at least a few folks would not like it.

But now it appears that apart from the first ‘rush’ of viewings, my link to reddit has been severed. Which I don’t think is fair at all. *I know life isn’t fair, whoo hoo.*

I will give them some credit for at least telling us that they were going to be removing the Higgs/CERN submissions, but not a lot. Obviously somewhere in the ‘reddit HQ’ somebody wasn’t happy about the spiralling coverage the discovery was getting.

It’s not just reddit though. I first saw an article about it this morning on page 5 in one or our daily newspapers. Page 5?? This is the biggest thing since Albert Einstein came up with E=MC2 back in the day! My daughter and I were saying that this whole thing doesn’t appear to be getting much in the way of attention from the media.

Still I thought it interesting enough to blog about and thought someone else might like to hear my musings about the ‘new’ particle.

When I posted my blog about the discovery it started garnering views immediately. It shot up to about one hundred and fifty views and then…just…died. After about an hour, it then got one or two more views. Curious I nipped over to reddit to see if the link I had provided had been that badly voted down.

That was when I discovered their little announcement.

I am a little confused. I thought the whole point of sites like reddit was to allow us to submit links to topical things. And surely it can’t get much more topical than the discovery of the boson particle.

I’m beginning to think that the only topical items reddit is interested in are films, photos of cats and dogs and things that will not clog up their feed.

I guess that will teach me to support, monetarily, a site like reddit in the future. Why wait for the government to censor the net when a site like reddit can do it for them.

Reddit Sticker
Reddit Sticker (Photo credit: cambodia4kidsorg)