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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.

I glanced toward the figure: she was a boxy, middle-aged woman of featureless commonality. I looked back at the road as we traveled between traffic lights at a leisurely 25 mph. An inexplicable aprehension drew my gaze back to the woman.

As I looked on her face transformed into a hideous rictus – her enormous eyes bore through the protective barriers of speed, steel and glass into the back of my skull, her gaze riveting and malevolent. I knew I had to look at the road, guide the car, get past the glaring evil. I could not.

My girlfriend screamed, “Look out, what are you doing?” The eyes, which seemed to lead the body, found their way onto the road and headed directly for us – they wanted death, their own or ours.

The scream revived me enough to stomp the brakes. We lurched forward and around to the left. The woman – a self-destructive grinning zombie – careened off of the central grill of the car and off to the right as we skidded past.

I shouted wordlessly, my girlfriend screamed again, “Her eyes, her eyes…” I peered in a panic in the rearview mirror where the eyes once again met mine and widened into circles of contempt. Her lips pulled completely back revealing huge, cruel teeth as she shook with sickening silent laughter and waved us on.

There were no other pedestrians and no other cars in sight. I righted the car and looked back again. The woman was gone.

We drove back to school in stunned silence, never more sober or disoriented.

I sure hope my daughter doesn’t run into anything like that.

About Eric Olsen

  • Craig Lyndall

    I hope for the sake of my dreams, err.. nightmares that this story was at least 66% fabricated.

    Note to self, move from Ohio immediately.

  • Eric Olsen

    100% true, really, I’m not kidding.

  • The Theory

    man, that’s a powerful drug…

  • Dew

    I’ll take the Klan over the eye any day

  • Aaman

    This really happened?

    My dad had a similar experience on a car trip to Kathmandu, Nepal

  • Mihos

    Talk to your daughter about bake sales.
    It’s not wise to consume everything available in college towns.

    That said, I actually knew an apparition when I was a little boy. Her name was Maggie White Eye. She would walk on foot to
    Twin Lakes from the Bridgeport CA Indian reservation. This journey was necessary for a few Yosemite Indians that used to work at the Lakes before the whites claimed the land. The Yosemite Indians were moved onto the Pauite reservaion in Bridgeport with Mono Indians too.
    Anyway the fish gutting fishing guide and pack station factions of the tourist industry kept alot of the old Indian families working and allowed them to spend at least summers in their ancestral home lands doing what they knew best. Bridgeport Reservation is a good twenty mile walk and driving could be dicey when alcohol was involved as it often was and is actually.
    Anyway old Maggie White Eye was easy to recognize because like her living relatives the Lent family that run the trading station in Bridgeport they tend to have physical patches on their skin or hair that are hyper pigmented or the opposite. So old man Lent had a hyper pigmented nose which led the Pauite to call him old brown nose which wasnt very nice given that he was a church attendant that traded freely with white families. Anyway Maggie White Eye had a white eye brow and white eyelashes on the right side ( i think) of her face and a shock of white hair just a tuft really on the same side.
    Maggie was given to getting drunk in the twin lake tavern and took off early in the morning from the Bridgeport reservation to walk the entire route past the Hogan I lived in on Robinson Creek . Indians were never served in taverns or restaraunts in Bridgeport. I grew up on this really old ranch that takes up the largest part of the valley. Without any neighbors to mix with, a passing car or person was memorable to say the least. Id see Maggie as she made her way down the road from miles up. She never accepted rides and people talked about her all the time. It is a very rural existence mind you. ‘
    You d hear things like did you see Old Maggie White Eye today? She was a legend on our ranch and a parable in that her drinking was the issue that brought her name up to begin with. Old cowboys and pack station Induns would be warned lest they end up like Old Maggie White Eye for drinking.
    Anyway I saw her every day or every few days in the summers as she plodded down the road silently in her moccasins.
    Once she even gave me a red obsedian arrowhead which I have kept to this day.

    Once my adopted “father” arrived in his airplane to fly his son and me back to Orinda CA to spend the summer. His estranged wife was married to the ranch foreman. It was the first time Id ever been in his plane. I was furious with him because when we arrived at the air strip Old Maggie White Eye was leaning up against the plane. It was mid June and the tarmac was so hot she couldnt finish crossing the tarmac as she had lost one mocassin. I remember his sharp urban sarcasim as he ordered her away from the plane so we could take off.
    Poor thing begged to stay a while longer as it was so hot and it was shady under the plane.
    My adopted brother always reminds me what a temper tantrum I had that day.
    Anyway, years later- like a dozen years later I was back home on the ranch and asked to be dropped off at the trading post to visit with the Lents. I had babysat Jonathan Slowbear when he was a bitty baby and now I kept hearing how he was a great big big kid.
    While I was there buying stuff I asked after Jonny and
    about Maggie White Eye- what ever happened to her. Young man Lent told me she was next door in their video store! It was a pump gas station turned into a vdeo store by the enterprising Lent family. I walked over and sure as shooting Jonathon Slowbear was one huge kid and looking around I saw a small group of Indian ladies. If you have ever lived on or near a reservation you’ll know the type when I say the shy women.
    They look at their hands or down to the ground and just dont mix with anyone outside their tribe much less non Indians. They acknowledged me shyly and
    kept hurrying away in their puffy down jackets- hand me downs from some ski lodge no doubt- Indians wearing two decades past fashion-
    anyway there she was Old Maggie White Eye – she was number four of four shy ladies. I looked to Jonny and said is that Maggie White Eye and he confirmed like its no big deal chill dude before driving off on his bike.
    I got back into the truck headed back to the ranch and excited I asked veritable
    know it all and mountain man Arthur Black foreman of the circle H – Art you wont believe who I just saw- How old is Maggie White Eye?
    He slammed on his brakes.
    Fool there is no such person as Maggie White Eye! That’s why people think your light a few eggs.- he drove me over to the Bridgeport historical society and showed me the archived newspaper story in the far right corner . Maggie White Eye was killed by a truck during a storm
    right by our Hogan in 1954. Our Indian Hogan belonged to her family.
    She was rumored to have been drunk when she was hit but who knows what really happened?
    I freaked. Was I crazy or what? No weed or acid had ever reached my blood stream at that point. So I called my adopted brother and with him on speaker phone made him repeat the line by line chronology of the day I had a temper tantrum in a small plane flying over the sierras that not incidentally ended up passing through a terrible storm on the way. He was salty as usual and being three years older his memory was a bit better. He recalled Maggie alright and poked fun at me having developed my push over mentality by age seven when I hit his father with my fist for disrespecting the old racoon looking indian lady that lost her mocassin
    on the tarmac- was hanging out under our plane and was forced to march across the hot asphalt..
    A ghost that lived and moved through the day, never spoke and gave gifts.
    Some people saw her and some didn’t.

    Im a serious biologist in training so I won’t go into all the weird experiences Ive had in my biological families home village in Akhmim. The white monastary – whoah. freaky frights
    but that is another long non sequitur

  • Nancy

    Obviously OTHER people saw her as well, so you weren’t nuts…but I sure would like to hear more of your ‘non sequiturs’, Mihos.

  • Elvira Black

    ARGGGGGHHHHH! That was scary! Blue Velvet, indeed. Reminds me of all the weird psychos who seem to come out of Wisconsin too-or so I’ve heard.

  • Paula Lent

    Your story is far fetched. My son is Jonathan Slowbear Lent, he was never a big big kid. And as for the woman with the white eyebrow, that is my Aunt Jean Turner.


  • Dave Nalle

    If you name the kid ‘slowbear’ he really OUGHT to be a big, big kid.


  • Paula Lent

    Slowbear was a name given to him by his Aunt Brenda. As for the Lent’s having pigmentation on their skin, this is not true. My father had to be operated on in Bakersfield when we lived in Porterville. After the successful operation his nose never returned to the original color.
    No one ever made fun of my father’s nose, my father was a very respected minister in the Bridgeport Valley and those who knew my father never had a bad thing to say about him. I thought I would just clarify some of the story that was told.

  • Paula Lent

    Dave Nalle, you don’t know anything. I’m the one that named him and I know his size from birth. So whoever made up this story is full of it. Plus, you non-indians think you know us and you know nothing. Go read your text books that fill your minds up with garbage about us natives of THIS land. I recommend you read “Lies my teacher told me”. Good book!

  • Mihos

    I hope it’s not too late -and that you come back to this blog. I wrote this about a million years ago. To me, Jonathan Slow Bear was a Big Big kid compared to the little baby that he was the last I had seen him when I was a foster child in your parents home in Bridgeport. In no way, did I intend to be disrespectful to your father, or indeed, anyone in the Lent family.
    The kids that I knew that made light of your father’s nose were not kind to anybody, me included and they didn’t bother to get to know anyone that wasn’t like them.
    Thank you for clarifying.
    I would like to know more about your aunt Jean Turner. Is she still alive and where did the old story of Maggie White Eye come from originally? It was an old ghost story that I heard from four or five on. They still talk about the ghost on the old road.

  • A. Lent

    This is the most idiotic story that I have ever heard. Not at all true and very misleading (negatively)to those of you who are unfamiliar with local Paiute history or the Lent family. The unintelligent male who wrote this should be ashamed of himself for spreading such bull.