Memory Lane: Erie Ghost Story

(For Father Spoon)

Every town has one: The haunted house or field where one day a father (sometimes a mother) snaps and murders his spouse and children. (Doesn’t every town have one?)

In Erie, it was called Axe Murder Hollow. Mr. Jones (I don’t actually know the alleged family’s name) slaughtered his wife and four (?) children with — you guessed it — an axe. It was a deserted field on the west (maybe east) side of town.

And one night, after watching The Exorcist with some of my friends, including my prom date/boyfriend-for-six-weeks-afterwards Mike, we decided to pile in Mike’s beater and take a ride out there.

We weren’t even drinking.


The Exorcist is a very scary film. Still, I think Poltergeist (the original) is way scarier. And that’s because I suppressed most of my memories of The Exorcist. When people say, “Have you seen The Exorcist?” I say, “Yes.” And then when they’re all, “Do you remember the part when her head spun around/she said those things/she did that thing with the crucifix?” I’m all, “No. No I do not.”

Poltergeist, on the other hand, I vividly remember. Especially the part when the guy rips his face off. That scene may be a prime reason I’m a vegetarian today.

In terms of today’s horror films — the Saw franchise springs to mind, not that I have seen a one of them — Poltergeist is probably pretty damn tame (or lame, your pick). But nothing at that time was scarier to me than trees that could reach through windows and eat you, or clown dolls.

CLOWN DOLLS, people. *shudder* That’s like taking the scariest two things from my childhood and combining them. And then bringing them to life onscreen.


I love horror films, incidentally. I love the suspense and the chills, and being too scared to sleep. But I haven’t watched horror films in a long time. (And regardless of how scared I get, I’m too tired now-a-days to *not* sleep. So, win, I guess.)

Because my husband is a wimp. He *hates* horror movies, and won’t watch them. And I won’t watch them alone. I mean, what good is that?

Although we did watch 28 Days Later together. And Sean of the Dead. (Okay, technically speaking, not a horror movie.) And Identity. That was kind of an accident; we thought it was a mystery, plus it starred John Cusack. We like John Cusack.


So: I bring home The Exorcist from Home Video Exchange (where I worked) one night. I have a few friends over for a viewing.

And it is terrifying. (Incidentally, I think I got in trouble for bringing it home, too. My father was not pleased. Although that may have been another movie… Darn if I can remember though.)

And somehow the subject of Axe Murder Hollow comes up. Six teenagers decide to get in a car, and drive out to the scariest part of Erie.

And we were *smart* teenagers, too.

The entire ride, we were giving each other the willies. I believe Tim made up an entire story line about a gypsy that cursed the family because they wouldn’t let said gypsies camp on their land, and one of the gypsy children died in a car accident.

So, as we descended the hill into the “hollow” of Axe Murder Hollow in Mike’s car, and H “saw” a gypsy woman on the side of the road, we started getting even more freaked out. Crying may have been involved at this point.

Mike parked the car and turned it off. Then something — a noise, a shadow, a raccoon — spooked us, and that pretty much sent this carload of teens (three girls, three boys) over the edge. Pleas to get us out of there started.

Mike’s car wouldn’t start. Or so he claimed. I was sitting in the front seat, and I saw him turning that key for all he was worth. I may have even given it a shot, because by now we were sure we were going to be pulled bodily from the car by ghosts and ripped into tiny pieces.

Scary movies, ghost stories, and teenage hormones. Do not mix.

Mike’s car finally, mercifully, and reluctantly came back to life, and we drove hell bent for leather out of Axe Murder Hollow. I’m sure we recovered over cheese fries, with ranch dressing and ketchup, at the nearest Perkins.

The next day, Mike called. “I took my car to the mechanic,” he said.


“He said he couldn’t believe it had started again last night. My [very vital car engine part] is fried. He can’t even get it going.”

“You lie!”


True Story.


What’s the scariest movie you’ve seen? What’s the scariest thing that ever happened to you? Does your neck of the woods have an Axe Murder Hollow?