Did you ever go to a strange town and get lost? You ride in the direction that you think you want to go, only to find that you have been going around in circles. You look around and find that you are in the wrong side of town. You get out of the area and head downtown to find someone to get directions. The directions you get takes you back to where you were. You look around and see a sign pointing you back to the interstate highway. Once on the interstate you breathe a sigh of relief.
What about getting lost on a little country road, back before there were four lane roads and interstate highways? Some of you can't remember that far back. Some of the two lanes still exist in certain parts of the state. The ones that I am going to write about was in and around Centre, Alabama, back in the ’40s. What made matters worse was that it was on a dark night.
It had been one of them weeks when construction work almost didn't exist on account of the weather. It was in the fall, and on top of the chilly weather it had rained most of the week. The Saturday had started out warming up and being a beautiful day. Duke, Carlton and I met in the park to see what we were going to do that night. We didn't have money to go to the drive-in theater. We had a little bit to put gas in Duke’s Hudson. The girls began to gather in the park. It wasn't long before they were gathered around us. No money, but gas in the Hudson, we agreed to find us a place to go ghost hunting. We left with the understanding we would be back and pick the girls up at six o’ clock.
True to their words at six o’ clock they pulled up in front of the house. I got in and we headed to the park. The girls were waiting and we pulled in and they loaded into the Hudson. Everyone was talking at the same time, it took a few minutes to find out from the girls where we were going. It seemed that one of the girls had just moved from Alabama to Rome. She told of a church that was built on a rock. Duke headed the Hudson toward Centre, Alabama.
We went to Centre and took the road that went back to Cave Spring. The girl from Alabama was up front with Duke giving him directions. Carlton was the teller of ghost stories when we were in the car heading for a place to check out. He said that Melinda, the girl from Alabama, had told him the story about the place we were headed. It was a small church, hidden back in the boondocks. Plain old boondock was bad enough, but try to imagine the back woods of Alabama, back in the ’40s.
I listened as Carlton told his story. It seemed that there was once a mining town just out from Centre. It was supposed to be a rough place with the miners in town on a Saturday night. The booze ran like water in the local saloons. The booze was good old white lighting made by a man called Haskell. It seems that Haskell had a big still back in a hollow. No one knew where, but Haskell always had plenty of booze.
It seemed that there was a man who hung around the saloons picking up free drinks. No one knew his name, he was called Bum by the people who came into contact with him. Bum began to show up with plenty of whisky. No one knew where he got it. Haskell began to let it be known that someone was stealing from his still. He also let it be known that thief had better get right with his maker for if he caught the thief, the guy would be sent to meet his maker. Bum had a mongrel dog that followed around behind him.
The howling of a dog woke up the town one morning. After a period of time the people could stand it no longer, they went to hunt it. They found the dog sitting at the feet of Bum. The dog was hollering the most pitiful sound anyone had ever heard. The people got a rope and managed to get the dog back from the body. They turned the body over to find that Bum had been shot in the heart. There beside him was a gallon of white whiskey. They knew that Bum was the one who had been stealing Haskell’s whisky. Haskell was caught and brought to justice.
I broke into Carlton’s story and asked Duke if he had any idea where we were. He shook his head and said "ask Melinda." I heard a small voice in the front seat say, "I am not sure but I think we are lost." How would you like to be on a dark country road after dark and the person who is suppose to know where you are going says, "I think we are lost." I saw some lights in front of us. It was a school and people were pulling into the lot. Duke pulled in and a man came out to the car.
Find out what happens next to Lonie and the gang on Nov. 22. Lonie Adcock of Rome is a retired Rome Police Department lieutenant. His latest book is “Fact or Fiction.”