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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Walking With Jackie the Ripper

Thursday, February 5, 2004

Jackie and I like old cemeteries. Probably this dates back to my youth. When I was growing up our little town didn't offer a whole lot in the way of entertainment during the summer unless one happened to be fortunate enough to have some dogs.

We always had some dogs, and therefore I could look forward to the coming of early August when the canine population was frequently seized with what we kids called "runnin' fits." That phenomenon woke us up in a hurry for we equated these attacks with rabies and obviously such "mad dogs" taking over the community tended to blast our peace and tranquility.

What would happen was we would be lying under a shade tree, usually in the late afternoon, when some child in the neighborhood would bellow forth a hair-raising pronouncement of impending doom, "Run for your life! Run for your life! Mad dog's a coming!"

Of course they weren't rabid. Daddy, who considered himself to be no small authority when it came to dogs, patiently explained that they were not "mad" but just severely infested with canine roundworms. We chose not to believe him.

However, if one were so unfortunate as to be dogless and did not have such happiness to look forward to, one could always visit the town burial site. It was by far the the most popular place in the area during the stifling heat of August, being built as it was on top of a high bluff where any breeze at all could seek one out. Furthermore, little kids loved to go there and test out the veracity of the ghost stories told by adults in their families.

This was especially true of our family because Daddy utilized the cemetery more than a little as a setting for his tales of terror. There was a large and imposing above-ground tomb which had been constructed as the final resting place for one of the townsfolk, Joe Blackhill, and this edifice became known to us natives, we being not highly creative, as BLACKHILL'S TOMB.

Sometimes late at night, right before we went to bed, Daddy would whisper in a rasping voice guaranteed to ensure at least one nightmare, "If you kids ever get to wantin' to talk to ole Joe, all you gotta do is go up to the cemetery real late a night, and go to his door and get as close as you can. Then holler real loud, 'What are you doin' in there, Mr. Blackhill?' and he'll say, 'Nothing at all!'"

Never being, by any stretch of the imagination, a mental giant, I was almost grown before I realized the point of that story.

Jackie does not like to walk in that area.