Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Devil's Road Revisited

We, the Little Woman and I, took a ride after dinner one day recently. We had eaten at one of our usual spots and I decided to check out a couple places we used to go regularly, but haven't in quite a while (read years). One was the Four Dogs in Marshallton. It was a favorite chow-down tavern, but one day as we drove the Strassburg Pike we were stopped by a bridge being out. It wasn't so much out, as in collapsed or anything, but it was under construction and they had closed off the road and sent us off on a detour. It is pretty country in this particular part of Pennsylvania, but we weren't out for a scenic tour. We were hungry. We twisted this way and that and never did find our way around to the Four Dogs, thus we drove off elsewhere and ate late. We didn't attempt to go back there until now, and yes, the road is now open.

Having established that we could retry the place if we so wished, I turned about and took some more back roads out past Longwood Gardens and checked on Manny Hattens. We were frequent diners upon their high top tables a time ago as well, but then felt their quality slipped and we slipped away. They have also slipped away and are no longer serving, although there is a new restaurant at the location.

This little research on old dining habits complete and with twilight darkening as we came back down Baltimore Pike towards Chadds Ford, I decided to take my wife down the Devil's Road. She had never been there. It now being not quite night, but not light anymore either, it should prove a sufficiently eerie time to introduce her to the legendary "Valley".

Of course, I had never heard of "The Valley" or "Devil's Road" growing up since I lived in the northern environs of Chester County in those more formative years, but I sure heard enough once we moved to this part of Delaware thirty-plus years ago. Apparently if you grew up around here you were expected at some point to take a midnight run to The Valley. The experience was a rite of passage that a lot of people around here shared and talked about.  Even my own children made the jaunt to The Valley during their high school years.

So what's the deal? It's an out of the way place full of spooks and legends, our own little Sleepy Hollow with mysterious SUVs and Pickup Trucks instead of a headless horseman, with tales of deformed children, ghostly murdered babies, KKK rallies, Biker terrors and some kind of cult up in the woods. It has eyewitness claims of strangely twisted trees, chases by invisible drivers and skull-like trunks, all flung along an extremely narrow little road called Cossart.

Added to all that history, M. Night Shyamalan filmed his movie, "The Village" along it. The picture at
the beginning of this little essay is a scene from that movie. The photo on the right is in the area I believe the  prop village was erected and the action took place. I will tell you it is a favorite movie of mine. A number of critics didn't like it, but the critics had turned on Shyamalan. Personally I think it is a better picture than "The Sixth Sense" (which I also like a lot) because it has more depth and a deeper meaning. The critics, being intellectual elitists caught up in their own sense of importance and superiority of taste failed to grasp this. They dismissed it as just another of Night's trick endings, but then even went on to criticize the reveal as coming too soon, which it had to in order to put emphasis on the real lesson of the film, the one the critics so caught up in their Aha Moment, dismissed as Shyamalan just up to his usual tricks, failed to see .

But this is not a movie review, just a short narrative of taking my wife down Devil's Road for her first time.

I admit, my first time wasn't all that long ago (2011), when I tried to film the excursion only to have my camera fail as I started. I wrote about that dreary day and the Black Pickup, whose driver I couldn't see, that followed me out of the road and then turned back up it, giving truth to the many legends told over the years.

This time I did no filming and this time it was growing night. Nobody followed up. Even the street sign was up in Centreville marking the entrance to the road. In 2011 the street signs had been removed to hide the road. Three years ago I didn't even know where "The Valley" was. I thought it was somewhere on Beaver Valley Road, which is nearby. Somewhere I stumbled after a number of attempts on the location and then I Google mapped the road. Good thing, because there were no street signs up at that time. It was kind of a hidden, narrow opening off Route 52. If interested, you can read that account (and watch what video I managed) HERE -"Mystery of Devil's Road: A Frank March Mystery. It is a very narrow road, with barely enough room for cars to pass by each other.

I know the residents who live along Cossart Road don't really like all the attention. They have had plenty of the midnight drive-thoughts and minor vandalisms, but at the same time I kind of hate to see these old legends die. Nobody has really ever settled the rumors either it seems. They did, I heard, cut down the "Skull Tree" where the ghostly baby supposedly could sometimes be heard crying and they posted most of the land to keep people out.

There is this defaced tree on the right  along the
bank in the general area of where the Cult House is claimed to be, but this isn't quite the Skull Tree, which I have pictured on the left for comparison.

Now as to the Cult House, the place where the trees shrink away in horror and where claims of deformed children, results of incest, were kept hidden away from the world, itself remains hidden away from the world.

(I would love to hike up into the woods there and see for myself, but I wouldn't go alone and I would go a bit fearful of arrest.)

If the Cult House does indeed exist, I would think it would be in this area pictured on the right. This is maybe halfway along Cossart. It seems the only parcel of land heavy enough with woodland to hide a large house. The other fields and hills don't seem as likely, especially since most have home owners living upon them.

If you drive along Cossart into this stretch you will find a padlocked gate on the same side as all these trees. There are some keep out signs too.

The drive behind the locked gate turns to the right as you enter and runs parallel to Cossart for a bit and then dead ends. It gives the appearance of being some sort of dumping site. There is trash all along the side of this drive.

But if you look down to the right of the right photo, near where this junkyard driveway enters off of the road, you can just barely make out the beginning of another drive, one seemingly somewhat overgrown, that disappears into the forest.

Following the direction of this old trail up the hill
through the trees you will find a rather large house.

You will also notice how the trees begin to take a slightly warped shape, as if pulling away from the house.

Could this be the Cult House?

I'm not claiming it is. I'm just speculating based on satellite images of the only area that would be a likely candidate for such a place.

Now people read these Blogs. perhaps someone is familiar with this big house in the woods on the hill. Maybe they can explain if anyone lives here or what the history of this building is. If  people want to kill rumors and legends then the best thing to do is shine lights on it, not remove street signs or have people be chased by mysterious vehicles or cut down strange trees. This just adds credibility to the suspicions and attracts more of the curious.

At any rate, now my wife has been down the Devil's Road none the worse for wear…but I'm still curious.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Bloody Moon Madness

They call it a "Blood Moon". It sounds pretty ominous and from some of the pictures of this phenomena, it looks it too. Right now it has been getting some play in the media and some claim it is a sign.

I am sure most of us have seen a "Blood Moon" at one time or other in our lives, or at least, a red moon. Back in the 1970s I outlined and started writing a novel entitled, "Night of the Red Moon". There had been one in the sky when I got the idea for the plot. They are not new, then, so why the sudden interest.

It is because we are on the verge of a tetrad. Oh, I see, a tetrad.


Well, a tetrad could be "a four-part structure that forms during the prophase of meiosis and consists of two homologous chromosomes, each composed of two sister chromatids". It could be, but fortunately the tetrad of concern tonight isn't that because I don't have time to learn that much biology right now.

Basic definition of a tetrad is a group of four. Wow, that's much simpler. The specific group of four that is raising some eyebrows now is not so much in the astronomy world as the religious sphere. It is a tetrad of solar eclipses (or is it eclipsi?  Apparently not, my spellcheck doesn't like this word.) The hubbub hasn't really centered on the eclipses, but on what is being referred to as a tetrad of "blood moons". It is also important to note that for eclipses to be considered a tetrad they must come six months apart with no partial eclipses between them.)

Okay, blood moons do go with eclipses and we are about to have a tetrad of eclipses beginning very shortly. Some tie significant events to such things. Yet this is not really so rare. We will have eight such events in this century alone. We had the first in 2001. (Hmm, that is when Wilmington Trust forced me to retire. Maybe there is something to this significant event stuff after all.)  Anyway, if Tetrad Eclipses are not all that rare, why a fuss about this particular group?

It is because of when the "Blood Moons" will appear (see chart below).

You see two will appear on sequential Passovers and two on sequential Sukkots (Feast of Tabernacles), important days on the Jewish Calendar.

Some are always looking to predict the time when Christ will return and when God will bring judgment on the world. They pull lone verses out of Scripture sometimes and come up with a theory that "now is the hour". In this case they pulled three references to what might be "Blood Moons".

1.          Joel 2:31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.

2.          Acts 2:20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.

3.          Revelation 6:12 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood…  (All verses from the English Standard version.)

Certainly these prophesies describe whet could be an eclipse situation, the darkness of the sun accompanied by a blood red moon. We may see just this occurs next week on the 15th. After all, what is a total eclipse? It is when the moon comes between the earth and the sun so that the sunlight is for a bit completely blocked from view and we are thrown into darkness during the midst of the day.

The difficulty with all this is "Blood Moons" are only light being reflected off the moon surface that is turned to the reddish hue by the earth's atmosphere in the same manner as we have sunsets and sunrises that are red. One cannot really predict that there will be four blood moons just because there will be four total eclipses. Even if there should be, they may not be visible or only visible in limited parts of the world.

There have also been eight such known tetrads all ready since the time of Christ.

Now, I don't want to downplay that someday the Lord will return. I believe myself that the Day of the Lord is not so far off in the future now. There are many things happening now fulfilling the prophesies about the end times; however, I say look to Israel and what is happening around it rather than to the moon.

I also do not wish to ignore the significance of the Jewish Holy Days, they do point to events. After all, Jesus died at Passover, rose on First Fruits and the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost. Surely the fall Holy Days harbor things yet to come.  

It is possible these eclipses will mean something, but maybe not. And what does it do for us if we did know the exact date of these things? It is more pressing we spread the Gospel to others whether the end of the world at hand or not, people die every day in many ways and their eternal fate is no different if they are run over by a bus than if they die in Armageddon. And we don't know when a bus might hit us either or when a mudslide will come or when a hurricane will drown us.

We have certainly been admonished to know what is coming, to read Revelation, but we haven't been told the date. Some would be wise when they start trying to pinpoint our deadline to pull these verses first:

Matthew 24:36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.

Mark 13:32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

One must tread carefully. We do not need another Harold Camping style media story. We have been warned to be ever ready. Why? Because we know not what hour the bridegroom comes. Let's be busy about sowing seed rather than sowing speculation.

I know, of course, many who read this neither give stock to Blood Moons or to the salvation offered through Jesus Christ. You'll just have to accept that I do believe in the meaning of the Cross and the Resurrection and the Easter soon upon us. You must allow me that belief and what you do with it is the chance you take.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Horrors! I'm a Horror Writer. (Not Horrible -- Horror, Horror!)

The grouping on the left was sold on eBay a few years back for $1,800, meaning each issue was $100. That is a pretty good markup for magazines that had a newsstand price of $.75 when originally published in the 1970s. It was listed as "The Stephen King Collection", because it contained some of Stephen King's earlier stories. Mr. King had exactly twice as many stories within these volumes as yours truly. I wonder if it would have added value as the "Stephen King and Larry Eugene Meredith Collection"?

Probably not.

I seem to be garnering fame on the coattails of more famous authors, Stephen King, Agatha Christie, Robert Block, Nero Wolfe and Clark Ashton Smith. My name has more recently been popping up on its own. For instance the Internet Speculative Fiction Database, where I am an entry along with 70,966 other writers of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. Plus my short story "Conjured" ("Startling Mystery Stories", March 1971) was mentioned in a book examining the horror comics and pulps of the 1960s and 1970s, World of Eerie Publications (2010, Feral House) by Mike Howlett.

I got a complete two-page synopsis review of my short story, "The Last letter of Norman Underwood" in Brien J. Frost's, Essential Guide to
Werewolf Literature (2004, University of Wisconsin Press). It is nice to be elevated to the level of "Literature".

This variation on the werewolf tale of mine originally appeared in "Magazine of Horror" in January 1969, nearly 11 years after I had written it at age 16 and it was the first horror story I sold, unless one considers my anti-Vietnam War "Poem to the Boys on the Flat" a horror story as well, which was published in "Psychedelphia Period" in 1968. "The Last letter of Norman Underwood" was also published in a Spanish anthology in 1968, La Chica de Marte y Otros Relatos (The Mars Girl and Other Stories, Gemini, 1968) with the title "La ultimo carta de Norman underwood".

A story I sold to "Magazine of Horror" in 1969 (published January 1970), "The Writings of Elwin Adams", also showed up in an European anthology a few years after publication in the United States. In this case the book was published in France, 13 Histoires  D'Objets Malefique (Marabout, 1975, Andre Gerard - Editor).

Now as a matter of fact, horror stories make up a small portion of all my writing, both published or unpublished. Even among my fiction they are less than a quarter. So how did I get branded as a horror writer?

Well, duh, for bringing it up so much myself, like in the first half of this essay. Honestly as a teenager it was all I aspired to. Yes, my highest ambition was to be a hack pulp writer, which I suppose I accomplished. It is easy to step over a bar set low enough, but the real challenge in life is to set a bar you have to reach up for and pull yourself over.

I didn't write strictly terror tales then either, but most were and the others tended to be about juvenile delinquents or guys with hot rods. But still, how did this innocent, Christian lad get hooked on this darker fiction in the first place?

Partly it was a story we read in our fourth grade class at East Ward Elementary School. It was Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart". That is the first story I can remember really gripping and intriguing me. It drove me to the library looking for more Poe, but I failed in my effort for I was restricted to the Children's Room and Poe was considered too adult, too upsetting for a nine-year-old.

Somewhere about that same time I saw a dramatized version of Poe's "The Gold Bug" on TV and this
whet my appetite even more, although "The Gold Bug" isn't a horror story per se. I did manage to get a paperback of some of Poe's stories and when I got a bit older I badgered my family for more. My grandmother found me a ten volume set, The Richmond Edition, The Woks of Edgar Allen Poe, published in 1904. Volume six was missing. I still have them, so they are now 110 years old. It appears volume eight has also went missing. Volume Ten's cover has really faded and that was a favored volume. It contained all of Poe's verse, which turned me on to poetry.

My friend, Stuart Meisel gave me a paperback that he assured would scare me. It was The Lurking Fear, a collection of short stories by H. P. Lovecraft, and it did scare me, but it also inspired me.

But I think there was more to my choice of content then just Poe and Lovecraft, plus the Universal monster movies recycling through our local theater at the time. I think much had to do with the monsters lurking in my own life, the bullying and abuse I faced most days at school, the fear of my father and the times of loneliness. I suffered from nightmares nightly.

Creating supernatural menace put me in charge of the demons and allowed me a world I controlled. Perhaps the demons within, those desiring vengeance on my tormentors, had an outlet not in some violence against anyone real, but in a bizarre world where vampire and werewolves and other outer-worldly creatures recked havoc on fictitious surrogates for my enemies.

Either become a writer or a serial killer; I think I made the right choice.