At the age of 11, I along with my brother and sisters lived outside the small town of Steelville, Missouri. Steelville is known for three things things; great outdoor life, a crater impact thousands of years ago and the gravy capital of America.
Our home was about two miles outside town. The road to my house passed a creek with a low land area, an old coke plant and sawmill. There was also a small field next to the low land creek area. Everyday in that field was a man dressed in overalls with a plaid shirt and what looked like an old railroad hat. From time to time, the man appeared to be standing in a different part of the field.
On one occasion, I was asked to stay after school and help on a science project. This meant walking home at dusk, as it got dark early late in October.
As I approached the old bridge by the creek, I remembered the tale of the “Headless Horseman” from the story of “Sleepy Hollow.” Crossing over the bridge and now in the low land area, I noticed strange things hanging down from the tree branches just off the road. I decided to check them out.
I walked up to the first tree and noticed that it was a cat. The next tree had a small dog hanging from it. I continued to check the trees and discovered that there were about 8 small animals, that had been hung. I wondered, if they were already dead or if some sadistic man (like the one in the field) had done it for sport.
By this time, the sun was almost down. Being a lover of animals, I decided to give the man in the field a piece of my mind. I walked briskly through the low lands and across the field towards the man. I noticed, that the man seemed to have a roll of twine in his hand as I approached. My mind started to race. What is to keep him from stringing me up like the animals?
Trying to keep a brave posture, I approached him from his backside. I yelled, “Excuse me!” His head started to nod forward. However, there was no verbal response from the man in the field.
As I got within about 20 feet, a large black crow peered over the man’s right shoulder, looked at me and lifted up to the skies. My goodness I thought to myself, “someone has killed this man in the field and left him for the birds to eat.”
I ran the rest of the way to my house. My uncle Leroy was there and I told him of my account in the field. He grabbed his rifle and flashlight and asked me to go with him. As we walked, I explained everything to him, that I had witnessed.
We approached the man in the field slowly. My uncle held the light on him until we came up in front of him. The man had a ghoulish face. His eyes were made out of Persimmons. The rotten fruit had worms in them. That is what the crow had been after. You see, the man in the field was a scarecrow. The twine was actually that. It had been left over from tying him to the stakes.
However, the hanging animals were for real. Someone (sick in the head) had actually hung the animals. My uncle cut them down and placed them in a pile to be picked up later.
This account is a true story. As I look back now, I can see that my imagination had got the best of me.
There isn’t a Halloween that goes by, that I don’t remember this day in my life. I often wonder, if the person that hung the animals got caught and dealt with. It is something that I may never know.