This is the second part in a journey that takes us through the hills between East Liverpool and Steubenville, both in Ohio, an area near Hammondsville and Bergholz and Irondale that would, to all appearances, be perfect for a ski resort, but has never received one. Instead, it has received a number of closed down potteries, boarded up mines, and silent factories, along with, perhaps, the curse of a Shawnee shaman whose people were removed from their rich hunting grounds.
This is the part about the house where the lady went crazy.
It was sometime back in the ’60 or ’70s, the night of the roaring and speeding car, piloted by a drunk determined to reach Columbus in three hours. The house sits on the left hand side of the road, if one is driving to the west or the south, and like many Ohio farmhouses, it is a two-story wooden frame house. Like many Ohio farmhouses, it has a broad cornfield spreading to the near horizon.
The hills are on the far horizon.
The child of 3 was toddling about, humming, playing, as twilight fell. She was lost, as children are, in her own world. The driveway led into the winding road, and the cornfield was on the opposite side from the house. She moved unconcerned toward the road, not hearing anything but her own imaginary life.
She did not hear the hoarse, wordless bellow from her father, rushing from the cornfield to try to reach her in time, no doubt willing to sacrifice his own life, if need be, to move her from the path of the roaring, speeding missile that was beyond control.
The driver, fogged in liquor, heard only a sickening crunch.
There was a trial, of course, but it didn’t amount to much. There was attached to the driver one of those names that had been in Jefferson County, Ohio, since the early 1800s. Such names may carry great influence and permission to do harm to others without repercussions. There was a fine, but it didn’t amount to much.
So in the white frame house on the left, the woman relives the nightmare of a warm summer twilight, over and over again.
Clyde Davis is a Presbyterian pastor and teacher at Clovis High School. He can be contacted at: