Fall is almost here, and I can’t wait to go exploring! For me, fall is my favorite time of year and my favorite time to write. I think Edgar Allan Poe and I would have been kindred spirits. Although he is a bit more melancholy and macabre than I, we both share a liking for the beauty of the mysterious, the twilight hour, the chills and the thrills. Poor Edgar was so heartbroken that he wrote only of the dark side. I tend to find the light the dark tries to hide. Most of the time, I discover it through laughter. Most of my weird adventures have hilarious resolutions. But for now, let’s get our imagines primed for a great season of writing. Let’s take a look at few more fun places to visit, physically or mentally.
So here goes: Part 2—My Top Ten List of Mysterious Writing Adventures
6. Memphis, Memphis, Memphis
I could write an entire blog on the mysterious places of Memphis, starting with Voodoo Village. But I’ve already talked about that one too many times. How about starting with the Phantom of the Orpheum. Supposedly, a ghost haunts the grand Orpheum Theater. Witnesses say they have spotted a little girl named Mary skipping about the mezzanine in a white dress and stocking feet. History reports state that a little girl the age of the apparition was struck down by a street car and later died in the theater lobby, where she was carried after the accident. Of course, the story is legend, the subject of one of several walking history tours. But it is an interesting story.
Everybody knows Elvis has left the building—and this dimension. I believe he is in heaven. But did you know that ten days after his death several men tried to steal his body and hold it for ransom? However, they were soon caught. The “explosives” the men had planned to blow up the mausoleum turned out to be fireworks, and the charge was dropped to trespassing. I do know for a fact that if you look hard enough you will find Elvis (or one of his clone tribute artists) in many places in Tennessee, for starters either on Beale Street or downtown Nashville. There is an Elvis “fortune teller” machine in one of the souvenir shops near Legends. Ask Elvis a question, and, hey there, pretty mama, he’ll tell you your fortune. Thank you. Thank you very much.
Speaking of Elvis, did you know he really liked the rollercoaster called Zippin Pippin at the now abandoned Libertyland theme park in Memphis. Sometimes he would rent the entire park so that he and his friends could play without being bombarded by fans. A week before his death, he lost the buckle off the belt of one of his famous jump suits while on that ride. The roller coaster was sold, and where it is now, who knows?
And while we’re on the subject of Memphis, ever heard of the Dark Day of Memphis, when for no reason the entire city was blanketed by darkness? The event happened December 2, 1904, and lasted for 15 minutes. Weirdings!
7. Voodoo Hill in Rutherford County
According to legend, there is a shooting range in Rutherford County called Big Springs Target Sports, a place that has lured celebrities as famous as Charlton Heston. But that’s not the weird part. About ten miles from this spot is a mysterious spot that has skeleton heads in trees, monstrous guard dogs chained to a tree, a myriad of bats, and coyotes roaming the place. Anybody who knows me well knows I’ll be the first to suggest exploring the scariest of places. Bring it on. But this place? From what I’ve read, the people at this place are even more strange than the animals. I’ve heard the place is scary at night, but even scarier in the daytime. As adventurous as I am, I’m doubtful about checking out this place. It would be a great setting for a story, but I would like to live to write about it.
8. Booger Swamp
Here’s a story for all the recent grads who are going to Tennessee Tech this fall. According to legend, there is a place on Dry Valley Road, about a half mile north of the intersection with Black Mountain Road, where lies an old swamp that is said to be haunted by an apparition with a pure white body. On a personal note, I do not suggest going for a romantic ride in the country in this area. You might bring home an unwelcome hitch hiker.
9. Giant Bones of Williamson County
Back in 1821, when explorers found giant bones in graves, rumors of an “oversize race of monstrous humanoids soon swept across the region.” Where the bones those of giants? Probably. Where they human? Probably not, at least according to scholars, who claim the bones belonged to mammoths or mastodons that had been buried by Ice Age hunters. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to see them. I wonder where they are now.
10. Egyptian artifacts in Nashville?
Wouldn’t it be great to be Indiana Jones for a day? When I was young, my mom filled my authentic canteen with Kool-Aid, and I set off on my banana seat bike to discover new adventures. I came back with all sorts of cool junk that I imagined to be long lost artifacts. But in the early 1890s, a man named George Wood found more than what he bargained for. He was turning up the ground on his farm and unearthed a stone box that contained a skeleton holding a small disk inscribed with what appeared to be Egyptian markings—at least that’s what Harvard zoologist Barry Fell believed after examining it. It was also his belief that the ancient Egyptians had taught the people of the New World how to build pyramids, “passing along the mythology of the ancients.” What do the symbols say? Fell believed the symbols were an IOU. I wonder who owed whom what. If you want to see if for yourself, you can find it in a very safe spot—the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville.
Want to read more Weird Tennessee? Check out the book by Roger Manley. If you like adventure that’s just a few miles down the road, then this book can take you on a wild ride close to home.