Book DescriptionIts a Terrible Day in the Neighborhood
They told you the suburbs were a great place to live. They said nothing bad could ever happen here.
But they were wrong.
This collection of terrifying true stories exposes the dark side of life in the ’burbs—from corpses buried in backyards and ghosts lurking in fast food restaurants to UFOs, vanishing persons, bizarre apparitions, and worse. Consider:
• The Soccer Mom’s Secret. Meet Melinda Raisch of Columbus, Ohio. She’s the wife of a dentist. A mother of three. A PTA member. And she has enough murderous secrets to fill a minivan.
• Noise Pollution. More than 100 residents of Kokomo, Indiana, claim their small town is under attack by a low-pitched humming sound that erodes health and sanity. Too bad they’re the only ones who can hear it.
• Death Takes a Holiday inn. There’s nothing more reassuring than a big chain hotel in a quaint small town—unless it’s the Holiday Inn of Grand Island, New York, where you’ll spend the night with the spirit of a mischievous little girl.
So lock your doors, dim the lights, and prepare to stay up all night with this creepy collection of true tales. We promise you’ll never look at white picket fences the same way again!
(from the author's website)
The Devil’s Lawn Ornament
The inappropriate or excessive use of lawn statuary has caused many a neighborhood snit. That’s because one man’s cute little garden gnome, homey-looking concrete porch goose, or lifelike ten-point buck can be another’s kitschy, property-value-destroying nightmare.
Given the discord that any one of those objects could cause if it appeared suddenly in a flower bed, it’s not hard to imagine the havoc wreaked when Danny Van Istendal parked his own unique bit of statuary on the lawn of his Lumberton, New Jersey, home. According to reports, his neighbors called it demonic and despicable (among a great many other things), and accused it of frightening everything from neighborhood children to the horses at a nearby stable.
One can see their point. Van Istendal’s lawn ornament isn’t the usual bit of crudely made, side-of-the-road goofiness. It’s an eleven-foot-tall, three-thousand-pound statue of a Sumerian fertility god. A really angry one, judging from the look of seething rage on its four-horned, red-eyed, skull-like head.
The statue came to Van Istendal by way of Hollywood. It was originally built as a prop for the 1955 Lana Turner movie The Prodigal, for which it was painted gold and equipped with light-up red eyes. There was a picture of it on the flick’s poster. After its acting career (which included a couple of cameos in Tarzan movies) dried up, the piece languished for years in front of a Newark lawn service company. Then, in 1984, it was repositioned on a highway north of the Delaware town of Smyrna. First it welcomed visitors to a travel agency, then to a gallery. The piece was nicknamed the “Buddha,” even though there’s absolutely nothing Buddha-esque about its glowering visage.
When its former owner decided she’d had enough of the thing, Van Istendal offered $4,000 for it. Ironically, he didn’t have a clue about it’s Hollywood origins -- he just liked its looks. He hauled it to his property and carefully positioned it on a five-foot mound of dirt with the setting sun at its back so that his own personal pagan god could cast an intimidating shadow across the road out front. “I think this thing overlooking my yard is kind of cool,” he told theBurlington County Times. “If it offends you, don’t look at it.”
The neighborhood was offended and decided that no one should look at it. City officials, using an extremely free interpretation of local zoning ordinances, told Van Istendal that he had to banish his god to a spot where it couldn’t be seen from the road. Van Istendal fought the ruling, stating that the statue was already concealed behind a six-foot fence. Actually, “concealed” probably wasn’t the right word. The “Buddha” towered over the fencing, allowing it to leer at startled motorists.
These days the statue leers at no one, save for Van Istendal and invited guests.
About the Author
Sam Stall has authored and coauthored several nonfiction books, including The Encyclopedia of Guilty Pleasures (Quirk, 2004). He lives in Indianapolis.