Spooky North Carolina: The Lawson Family Massacre

Hey! So, uh, September happened. How about that? I started this “Spook Show” and then got sidelined with work trips for half the month. Well, I am back and for the rest of this Halloween season I promise not to disappear again. To be honest, I had planned on this happening so fear not, this ride has only just begun.

Today we start the “Spooky North Carolina” series with a doozy and to my shock, right next to where I currently reside! You will see as the month of October progresses we will travel to many states, not just North Carolina (even though that is the name of the series) so when I learned of this being right up the road, it HAD to be the first one of the Halloween season.

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In 1929, one of the country’s most profound tragedies happened in Stokes County, North Carolina about ten miles or so away from where yours truly lives. On Christmas morning the Lawson family were gathered together celebrating the day when the father, Charlie Lawson who was a wealthy tobacco farmer, shot and bludgeoned his wife and six kids excluding the oldest son. He had sent him on an errand into town earlier in the afternoon. The crime was brutal and without logic or reason to the locals. In the report, the wife was shot at pointblank range along with his oldest daughter while the young children were bludgeoned to death with a club. All their bodies were placed in the barn with their arms crossed and stones under their heads. When the gravity of what Charlie Lawson had done sank in he turned the rifle on himself. Those who found him say he had worn a circled path on the ground from pacing.

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When news broke about what had happened it became a national story that attracted thousands to the little county. The massacre shocked and horrified the country but also fascinated as many. How could such a well-respected farmer slaughter his entire family? It had to be premeditated otherwise why would he spare his oldest son? And the fact it was on Christmas day only added to the sadness of the atrocious crime.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 8.18.16 PMThere are a couple of theories to why Charles Lawson murdered his family. One theory was that Charlie suffered head trauma from a work accident leaving him with terrible chronic headaches. Much like other cases of temporal lobe lesions or brain damage, he suffered from rage which ultimately led to the murders of seven and his suicide.

The other theory, and far more sinister, was that Charlie had been molesting his oldest daughter and impregnated her. Not wanting to live with the shame he decided to end everything before the community found out.

So, why does this make the “Spooky NC” list? Well, just like any unanswered event like the Amityville Horror, the locals claim to hear children laughing and playing in the woods at night near the Lawson farm. Most of the locals aren’t very willing to talk about the history of these events and get really evasive when asked about any strange occurrences since. Maybe they didn’t like my shirt or perhaps I am just another dumb city dweller who is there to trespass and make mischief? You never know what idiots preceded your visit to make the local people interrupt your questions with, “Are ya’ll ever gonna buy something’?”. I guess you can’t blame them.

In the video we travel to a bridge which was made from the floor boards of Lawson house that was dismantled after too many trespassers made it impossible for the land owner to keep privacy. After that, and with a whole lot of trial and error, we found the mass grave of the Lawson family. It is said the reason so many ghost sightings happen there is because of the way they were all buried together. I guess it would be pretty unrestful to be under with the dude who put you there.

Regardless of whether or not paranormal happenings are present today, it is still a real shocker to find out one of the worst crimes occurred right down the street from your house. Even if it did happen nearly one hundred years before.

 

The Haunted Barn 1988

I grew up in Marietta, Georgia just north of the city of Atlanta. Back in the 1980’s and 90’s it was one of the biggest suburbs which was about as close to a Tim Burton version of middle class America as you could get. Every house was similar, the grass was cut on Saturday mornings while the kids watched cartoons until eleven o’clock or when high school academic game shows came on. That was a sign to get outside to ride bikes. The ball games were always on an outside radio and errands running families crowded Sears or whatever was on their lists. It was an awesome place and time to be a kid.

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One of the Saturday staples was the Chattahoochee Nature Center located right on the bank of the Chattahoochee river. It was a place of many great childhood memories for me ranging from a five-year old to a young soldier at home on leave. The Chattahoochee Center was the place I spun around so fast on a tire swing, I puked in the parking lot and Mom made me take off my pants in front of my preschool class and lay down in the backseat of the car on the way home. Which, of course, resulted in more puking. A place where my best friend Simon teased a goose causing it to chase him around the park, instantly transforming him from a manly seventeen year old boy into a screaming twelve-year-old girl. A place where my other buddy Johnny got so high he went to pee in the river, lost his footing causing him to uncontrollably slide down the embankment into hip deep into the water resulting into the infamous cry of desperation, “OH NO!”. (I still laugh at that today) And it was also the place where I took a long walk with my Dad the night before I headed back to base to be deployed to a combat zone. The discussion we had that night I would not like to have again.

I think my fondest memory of the Chattahoochee Nature Center would be on the month of October, 1988. That was a pretty magical Halloween season for a number of reasons. One, I was finally dressed as something for Halloween my parents invested more that twenty dollars on. I was a knight with full body armor, shield and a sword and aside from the LA Gear sneakers, I was pretty convincing. Also, that year I was able to trick r treat alone without the parental supervision. Looking back, I guess it wasn’t that big of a deal because the neighborhood was barely a mile long.

Just about every weekday night during the month of October, the family did something Halloween-ish. Whether it was carve the jack-o-lantern or decorate the yard, as long as the homework was done, we celebrated. This is probably why I am thirty six with a Halloween Spook Show. Just a theory.

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One fateful night, Dad read in the paper the Chattahoochee Nature Center had a haunted attraction featuring the “Haunted Barn” which was run by the local Walton High School. In those days, I regarded high schoolers as grownups so right away I knew this attraction was going to be something of the serious note. My Dad, however, thought much the opposite. In fact, he thought that this was more of a fun and family attraction which possibly had nature conservatory lessons mixed in with a ‘Trick or Treat” motif. That was far from what we would be experiencing.

The Nature Center was a Saturday morning place where every morning Dad and I would drop off bottles and newspapers to the recycle center and feed ducks. That Thursday night the mood was much different. I can still remember pulling into the gravel parking lot with lit jack-0-lanterns spacing the lot. There was hardly anyone there and for good reason because it closed at 9:00 sharp and at 8:30 on a school night most kids had been through the attractions and on their way…to therapy. I had homework and Dad’s work ethic would never allow for fun before responsibility. Makes you wonder what happened to me?

We paid a “donation”, I think. There was no fee that my Dad can remember (we talk of this often every fall season). Just followed the path on the candle lit road which led to the barn. That barn, which was always a place of discovery and cuteness throughout my elementary days with field trips and summer camps, was transformed into “THE HOUSE OF SATAN”.

I shit you not, in Marietta Georgia, The Chattahoochee Nature Center named their barn, “THE HOUSE OF SATAN”.

I have yet to meet a peer or a long time friend who remembers this but I have family who can validate. And for whatever reason had no problem taking me into “The House of Satan”.

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I will say, looking back on this event, the high schoolers did it right. They recreated the famous Exorcist scene when the priests read rites which makes a rotting girl screech in horrific tones. The next room had a person rocking in the corner as a defiled and chopped up corpse lay on the floor. After that, a room where a wondering girl kept trying to pull me from my Dad to come with here into the heavens. Holy shit, I remember this with such detail I even remember her shoes. Her shoes!

Dad laughed. That is what I remember but for me, this was horrific. Every room led to more nightmares my brain was not ready to comprehend. That is until we met the stairs. The stairs went up to the loft of the barn and at the top stood a figure.

We didn’t know if we were supposed to proceed up and I remember looking at my Dad. He studied the figure long and hard then looked at me with a shrug. I grabbed his flannel shirt and we head up. But then the figure spun around and bolted down the stairs as if it too was being chased by something horrific.

We miracled ourselves straight through the back door and was chased by a hooded figure almost halfway to the car. I can still to this day remember screaming without care. When you scream without care it is something you never forget. As a child it is something to possibly look back on with a smile but never as an adult. It is animatistic in a way. My Dad stopped, laughing hysterically and so did the hooded kid who removed his said hood and thanked us but said that was where the attraction ended. He didn’t mean to scare us so badly and made an attempt to assuage my fear with a high-five.

I will never forget that night. Forever will Halloween be that barn with jack-o-lanterns lighting the way of a path and the orange illuminated barn filled with monsters and demons who scared me so badly the adrenalin put my feet to sleep. We dumb down so much in today’s society. I feel bad for the kids who will never get to experience something that made me a forever-fan of Halloween. That night forged a connection and even tough it scared me to down to the marrow and I loved it.

Thank God I didn’t have an easter experience. Those people are freaking weirdos.

 

 

Such Sites To Show You…

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Hey guys, I have a lot on the menu for this week and weekend here at VeggieMacabre. The first “Spooky NC” series stars tomorrow and so many other fun activities are ready to post. But first I need to give some love to these great sites if you are really in the spooky mood. Sorry if you think this is a filler. It isn’t meant to be but I really do want you to check these amazing people out!

Click the site pictures and be whisked away to creepy fun and adventure!

1) Bayou Babylon

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2) iMockey

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 9.05.44 PM3) O.T.I.S.

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4) The Sexy Armpit

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5) Dinosaur Dracula

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6) Retro Ghouls and Shocks

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Get ready at 6am for a crazy look back at a Haunted Barn. I was going to post this tonight but I had to interview Dad tonight just to make sure I didn’t imagine half of that horror. It is a fun little story and very VERY HalLoween.

 

 

Ode To The Fall Fresh Market

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Lordy, I love The Fresh Market! It’s a place where normal people like yours truly can feel a tad sophisticated buying six cucumber sodas and a bag of cinnamon bears. Its warm and cozy with classical music playing overhead, lulling people into paying twenty percent higher for everyday items. Some say it is a snobby market and others brush it off as a specialty food shop, but I say it is a necessary Saturday morning stop to energize the soul and dent my wallet, especially now that we are a foot into the Halloween season.

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This is the place where you plan the best autumn dinner of your life. Every vegetable imaginable is available and if yours is like mine, they come from local farms. That is a huge thing for me. I can’t put my finger on it, whether it is the track lighting or the fact most produce and items are in barrels but you kind of skip around aimlessly in this market. It is a scientific fact most amazing things come in a barrel. And for that, I am sure almost no one sticks to their lists. At least I don’t. I went in one time for three steaks and left with clams.

Hmm, maybe it is a gas leak that is the cause of such aimless shopping?

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The free coffee station is one of the best parts of The Fresh Market. Every season they have a select coffee to try with a full station to garnish your tiny cup. I was excited to see what Fall coffee they were pushing for this year but it never fails that some old bitty would be crowding the coffee sample table, adding cream and sugar with the speed and purpose of an aquarium-ed manatee. I hate her!

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Back to the wacky produce! Tell me, where can you get dwarf squash these days? Think real hard. I don’t know where but at The Fresh Market, this time of the year, you can. It is the main ingredient for my “Little Squash Big People Soup”. If you want the recipe just email me. It is just right for rainy and cold October days paired with the right beer. And yes, I do feel a little bad for that insensitive parody of the midget show. I meant little people show.

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SON OF A BITCH SHIT! I turn around for two seconds and the old guy jumps in and proceeds to go all Cialis on the decaf. Dude is quick in them Foot Joys!

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Here we come to what The Fresh Market does so well and that is the Halloween display. Every year is a bit different but damn if it isn’t always impressive! They always have a crazy candy display throughout the year but they really turn the knob to high in September. I love the fact an entire three-foot wicker basket is filled with one pound bags of gummy ghosts. If that were to fall off the roof and kill someone, their obituary would be clipped and permanently added to my fridge. It’s a place of honor.

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I know this picture is a tad bit blurry but I had been looked at with some suspicion while I roamed around taking pictures of small squashes and old people. This one was taken with great haste.

I love the decor. It is such a throwback to when I was a little kid. Ghosts and pumpkin-headed scarecrows are hung from the rafters with orange and black streamers dangling, carelessly blowing with the central air. It is simple yet perfectly nails why I love this holiday so much. There is no hint of modern pop or Disney shows. Just the same decorations we loved for years and years.

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Holy shit nuts and gum! I can’t catch a break this trip!

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I know this isn’t very Halloweenie but I can’t go to sleep without yelling from the hills about how amazing their organic nut selection is. Every kind of nut, berry, mix and seed is available for you to buy AND sample. I can’t tell you how many bags of trail mix I have, which are most likely stale, in my cupboard. There is no helping help myself and it is not beyond reason that I buy over one hundred dollars in almonds a month. Don’t get me started on cashews.

Also, I am not entirely sure about the sample part. If someone stops me I’ll just do my best impression of the homeless demon eating crickets in Hellraiser.

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We have success! Even though I like to browse the aisles for the best Thai peanut sauce and vegan friendly pasta while drinking  a free shot-cup of seasonal coffee, beggars can not be choosers. It is an added pleasure to an already fun fall grocery shopping experience.

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Of course it is pumpkin spice! How could it not be?

I am telling you folks, go to The Fresh Market if you want to immerse yourself with autumn goodness. The smells, specials, free samples and specialty food items are enough to make you go home and get drunk on spiked cider while hanging skeletons from trees. It is that great of an experience for this time of the year. Sure you will spend five dollars on a box of Triscuits but that’s why you save that for lame-o Kroger. You buy cornish hens and seven-year old sharp cheddar from The Fresh Market, ya silly!

 

 

DJD, Me and Retro Ghouls!

Just when I get on a role, work rears its ugly head and I find myself on the border to Canada in jerk-town Montana. But that is okay, because this next week is full of crazy Halloween goodness. I am serious, this is all falling right into place. But before I get into next week I can still save this one by posting a video featuring the famous DJD and his new blog, Retro Ghouls and Shocks! 

If you are unfamiliar with Dave (DJD) he is a long time pal of mine since the early days of X-Entertainment. Also, every Saturday night he hosts an awesome radio show called Dark Entries. If it goes bumps in the night to a beat, that tune is on his show. He is the master of horror, goth, punk and all things dark. Check it out!

So, here we are talking about his new project and what to expect. I am very flattered he came to me with this awesome news.