The House at Dead Man's Curve
By Carmon Norisene Taylor
(Daughter of Margaret Costlow Taylor Mitchell)
It was a hot steamy summer in 1954, the
year we lost our house near Crane, Missouri to a fire. We had to locate
another place to live right away. My Mama found a little brick house to
rent near Dead Man's Curve, outside of Marionville, Mo.
I was five years old at the time.
The only thing that mattered to me was that "Susie Dolly" and I had our
own little home at the new house. As Mama began unpacking our belongings,
I went to look for a spot to set up my playhouse. Before long, I was back
inside pestering Mama to help look for a spot. Since it was so hot outdoors,
Mama decided that an unfinished room in the basement would be just perfect
for me and Susie Dolly. She quickly grabbed one of the boxes she had emptied,
a tea towel, a fruit jar full of cool-aid, my little tea set, took me by
the hand and led me down to the basement. In a matter of minutes, she had
my "home" set up. While I poured "Tea" for Susie Dolly, my mother quickly
went back upstairs to finish her unpacking.
For several minutes I was happy as could be
while I sat alone in the basement. My brother Butch had discovered the
haystacks and the apple orchard behind the house and was exploring them.
It was just me and my dolly,... all alone. Suddenly I began to notice the
dark dampness of the basement. An eerie feeling crept up the back of my
neck as my young soul felt something was terribly wrong. I could hear Mama
upstairs moving about and that reassured me for a few moments, but the
strange feeling would not leave. Eyes were watching me!! No, not eyes that
anyone could see...but eyes that you knew were there. They could see you,
but you couldn't see them!
Slowly I reached for Susie Dolly and hugged
her to my chest. It took all the courage I could muster to dart for the
door, screaming at the top of my lungs for Mama!!!! As I ran around the
house, my mother had heard my screams and come running to see what the
matter was. I nearly knocked her down as I climbed up her legs and wrapped
my arms around her neck. She carried me into the house as I told her about
the man downstairs who was watching me. Thinking that an actual person
was in the basement, Mama picked up a stick and went to find the culprit.
Within a few minutes, she was back and trying to reassure me that no one
was there. Eventually, she took my hand and led me back around the house
to the entry of the basement to prove that my imagination was running away
with me. As I stood at the door peering inside..the feeling once again
overcame me. Those eyes were on me again!
My dear mother gathered up my newly
built playhouse and suggested that Susie Dolly and I find a new home. She
managed to find a corner in the living room as a temporary home. Once she
had me settled down, she continued with her unpacking.
We had been in the house less than a
week before Mama was suddenly packing our belongings once again. I had
been outside sliding down the haystacks with Butch when we decided that
it was time to ask Mama for a drink of cool-aid. We entered the room just
in time to hear Mama and Daddy Gene discussing the man that had been killed
in the basement!!!! My mother gave me the strangest look as
I walked into the room! Daddy Gene had heard the story while he was in
town and had come home to tell Mama. They decided that the combination
of Dead Mans Curve and the man dying in the basement was enough to make
them leave that very day. Mama wasn't about to stay in a house where a
man had been killed.
After being gone for more than
forty-five years, I decided to return to Dead Mans Curve. I had never forgotten
the episode and had told the story to many of my friends. Now I wanted
to find out as much as possible about what had happened there.
With memories to guide me, I went
to Crane and found the road that once led to Marionville. As I neared the
spot where the house should have been, I searched the hilltop where it
once stood. It was no longer there, and much to my dismay, Dead Mans Curve
was gone too. Only the over grown grass and a faint sign of an old blacktop
curve remained of the once deadly road! Thinking that I may have misjudged
the distance, I drove the road several times in search of the old house.
Perhaps it had been remodeled or something of that sort. Eventually, I
gave up after convincing myself that it had not been my imagination. Mentally
applauding the thought, I decided that it must have been torn down,
I guess I will never know about
the man in the basement who watched Susie Dolly and I having a tea party
on that hot afternoon. Who was he and why did he make his presence known
to a five-year-old child?
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