My oldest daughter enters college in a few weeks and I am very excited for her, proud too. It's hard to believe I matriculated to sweet little Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio - "America's Quiet Surprise" (I shit you not) - 28 years ago. I had just turned 17 and in retrospect was too young, but that's another story.
Springfield was selected as Newsweek's "Typical American City" in 1981. An entire issue was devoted to an in-depth examination of the town. While Springfield doubtlessly exemplifies middle-America, middle-America isn't all barbershop quartets and ice cream socials. It was more like Blue Velvet.
A very large cemetery sprawled over hills and dales right next to Wittenberg, and the fall of '75, my freshman year, saw a series of puzzling incidents there: graves were desecrated, charred animal remains were found in various states of ritualistic dismemberment, and cryptic symbols were found throughout the hilly necropolis.
There were wild rumors: witchcraft, satanic worship, a Jean Dixon prediction of ritualistic murder near a small Midwestern school (it didn't happen), frightened virgins, frightened libertines, networks of caves, trapdoors under school buildings. This all led to one ripsnorting Halloween as countless students snuck around with butterflies in their stomachs and chemicals in their bloodstreams endeavoring to espy diabolical perpetrators. This heady confluence produced nothing but an overwhelming flow of young adult hormones. The police were hard pressed to explain the Halloween cemetery fornication epidemic that year.
The very next day, All Saint's Day, my girlfriend and I sought to tether ourselves to the real world with an across-town trip to a pizza haven for a becalming lunch. We achieved this aim without incident and headed back to school in my late grandmother's Mercury. A few blocks from the pizza place, I noted a figure out of the corner of my left eye.