Anomalous Americana —  Contemporary tales of strange happenings in the lives of everyday individuals

Posted in > BLACK CADILLAC REVIEW by David on December 6, 2018

Lexington, GA – Photo: Dominique Joyner

The following selection of items is gathered from the outer edges of contemporary culture. These curated flowers of human experience represent areas that are often unseen or passed over by those who stick to the main roads of the vast American continent — but I think you will find that if you approach them with an open mind they provide a deeper understanding of the joy that can be found in ‘liminal analytics,’ a term used to describe the fine art of exploring the ‘unattended, invisible, and overlooked.’

Erase from your mind history channel dramatizations, inept experts parading through graveyards, television psychics emoting around an asserted haunting, and return to the simple act of storytelling that has always been the center of Fortean investigation. Even the most powerful myths existed first as stories, experiences recounted in a shared word between friends, family and strangers.

With the rise of communication technology it’s easy to miss the importance of mundane encounters. Stories act as a well of meaning where we can sink a whisper of some local memory, shadows playing past events, personal recollections gathered while investigating the borderland between real and imagined. We encounter them every day, meaningful, coordinated incidents measuring a slow rhythm in time, subtle glimpses of a possibility that strange, structured narratives underlie our common lives.

Spending time at Liminal Analytics office, stories seep from the walls louder than karaoke at the local bar down the street. The other night while walking through the alley out back I heard hints of a passionate and unnerving country version of Purple Rain emerging from that bar, proof we’re face to face with the regularity of everyday anomalies here.

In honor of those local memories at the root of any anomaly, here are a few personal recollections from folks I’ve met while traveling the margins of Georgia — stories straight from the mouths of their tellers, ungarnished, translucent tales of strange happenings in the lives of everyday individuals…


The Circle That David Drew — A Story of Synchronicity (Source: C. Barts, Walton County, GA) –

C. Barts was given the secret of talking out fire from a woman his wife knew so he could heal one of his kids. He lead our office in Pleading the Blood as a protection against malicious spiritual influences when I worked at a charismatic food ministry — and he shared with me this memory while we were talking about just how weird the world really is:

“Growing up, my best friend David, and I had a mutual friend named Brandon. All three of us went to school together, played baseball on the same teams, and went off together on the weekends. We were what most would call pretty tight. We had each others’ back.

As with most friendships at school, David and I went one way and Brandon went another. He and his family eventually moved out of the school district to the other side of the county. While it wasn’t that far, as kids it seemed forever away. All three of us kept in touch as much as possible, but that eventually faded away until communication was almost nonexistent.”

“It had been a little over a year since we had last heard from Brandon. One evening David and I had been out with some friends, and I ended up at his house to crash for the night. At around midnight the phone rings awakening us both from our sleep.

I hear David say,”Hello?”

“Hey man, what’s up? It’s been a long time”.

There was a pause and then he said “Well hang on one second let me get something to write your number on and I will call you back tomorrow”.

I hear some papers shuffling on the night stand in between the two beds as David pulls a high school football program from the pile, the kind with pictures of the players and cheerleaders, and about a million ads from local businesses.

He flips open a page in the dark, writes down a phone number, writes Brandon’s name above it, draws a circle around it and says, “Got it, I will call you tomorrow. Bye.”

The next morning came on fairly uneventful. Around mid-morning David and I were just sitting in the living room watching television when the phone rings.

This time his mom answers from the other room. We here bits and pieces of the conversation and hear more than a few times “Oh, my gosh.”

She hangs up the phone and walks in where we are parked on the couch. She looks pale. With tears in her eyes she whispers, “You’re not going to believe it, but early this morning Brandon was shot and killed by his step father…” and tells us of the proposed funeral arrangements.

We were sitting there in shock when suddenly David bolts up to his room. He emerges with the football program he’d grabbed the night before when Brandon had called. He looks at his mom and says, “He just called me last night…” while shuffling pages looking for his number.

Suddenly a look of terror overcomes David’s face as the book falls to the floor. I say, “David what is it?” and his only reply is “Holy crap!”

I pick up the book and begin to look for the number myself. What I find I can’t believe. There was Brandon’s name and phone number written on an ad page for the very funeral home where his body would lay in rest. The circle that David drew around Brandon’s info also included the exact location, out of many in the county, of the funeral home his service was held at.

All we could do was stare at one another in disbelief.”

Born With A Veil — Apparitional Encounters, Seership and Healing in the Life of a Local Spirit Doctor (Source: Preston, Walton County, GA) –

“I believe in the unknown, because to me not to believe in the unknown is to not believe in God. I can’t see him ‘neither, but I know he’s there and I can see him working.

1-f7jIzQmdKMuaECwy4i7nfwNow some people are afraid of ghosts, they don’t like to talk about them none. I tell them, now I believe in the Lord too strong to be worried about any of that.

I believe in ghosts because my daddy believed in them. He was born with a veil over his face, they say that folks born like that can see things, he used to heal kids with the thrush.

One time we was at the bus stop, and he tell me “Look over there…”

Pointing to a man standing across the street at the other bus stop, he was standing with his back turned to us so you couldn’t see his face. My daddy said “That’s a ghost…”

And I said “Now how in the world can that be a ghost? That’s a man standing there solid as me.”

He said, “Nah, that’s a ghost. You ain’t never gonna see his face, watch…”

So we did, we sat there until our bus come, whole time the man just stands there with his back to us. My daddy he said “Now wait, we’ll let this one pass, we’re going to sit here until his bus come.”

So we did, we sat there until his bus come, still that man never did turn or move. My daddy say “Now watch…”

The lights inside the bus was bright, you know, and I watched, but I never seen him get on the bus. When it drove away, he was gone. Now I tell you I ain’t seen him get on, but he was gone when it left.

We had an apartment in Atlanta, it was up on the second floor. There was a balcony off the back, you know, but no stairs coming up to it. One night I hear something kick at the balcony door and it bust open, and I hear someone screaming “Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh!” real loud, you know. I run out there on the balcony and I’m looking down all over the alley, but I ain’t seen nobody. We was two stories up, now if somebody been there I’d a seen ‘em.

My daddy he come out and said “Boy, just leave it alone. It’s just a ghost, it don’t mean no harm.”

He moved in one place, and they weren’t so peaceful, they threw him out. He seen something there one time, and after that he just left the place and wouldn’t go back in. My sisters had to go get the furniture and all the stuff, he tell them “I ain’t gonna go back, no matter what. They can have the furniture and all the rest, I ain’t messin’ with that.”

When he was a boy they used to bring kids over with the thrush to see him, he blow three times in their mouths and they was supposed to get healed. He told me that it used to work back then. They said peoples born with a veil could do things like that.

I ain’t seen nothin’ like that since he passed. Not that strong, but sometimes you see those things out of the corner of your eye, you see it, feel someone pass, but you look again and there ain’t nothin’ there.”


He’s the seventh son of a seventh son — Traditional Healing in Oglethorpe County Georgia (Source: Walter McCannon, Oglethorpe County, GA — 2015)

Walter McCannon’s great-great-grandfather, Daniel Webster Paul, was born the 7th son of a 7th son.

Although he died in 1932, people in Oglethorpe County Georgia still remember the miracles that occurred when ‘Doc’ Paul laid hands and prayed.

“They took armchairs like this and they tied sheets between four chairs and laid the baby there, they couldn’t handle it. Every time they’d handled it it would go black and blue. So my grandmother…his grandmother found out about it, she said he was like four or five years old. She said I’m going down there, he’s the seventh son of a seventh son, and said I believe the Lord will take care of this baby. She went and got him as a little bitty boy, and made him sit there and play with the baby, just touching him and all. From that moment when he left from that moment on they could handle the baby and from then on they always knowed, they called him Grandpa Doc, his name was Daniel Webster Paul.

That’s how he got his name Doc.

And I’ve heard my grandfather talk about cutting metal with a chisel, and it flew back on his sister and burnt her arm. And his momma was pretty strict back then, and said “Adam what you done done to Ophelia?” He said, “well I done cut a piece of hot metal and done burned her arm, I’m going to Grandpa Doc’s.” And she said “That’s the thing to do” and he said that’s was the last thing his ma said about that.

And said that when he got there, he would sit there and rub, Aunt Ophelia told me this now, sit there and he said rub and said “If the Lord Jesus was here he’d touch your arm and he’d take all this pain and all out.” And he sat there and rubbed it and next thing you know it, and she showed me, she said you see a scar, and there wasn’t no scar or nothing. Took the fire out of that thing.

There was a guy with warts on his feet, she would talk about that he couldn’t walk and he’d come to school with rags tied on his feet…and all. And she convinced, as a little girl, convinced that school teacher to let the school out one day to go to her Grandpa Doc’s store. He run that old store, and he went over there and he rubbed his feet and everything and lo and behold it cured it right up. There’s just story after story…

Continue your explorations into the back-roads and by-ways of the American Spirit with:

Weeds, Herbs, and Hog Fat: Ed Craft (1913–1996), ‘folk doctoring’ in Sulphur Springs, Texas —  https://davidmetcalfe.wordpress.com/2018/11/08/weeds-herbs-and-hog-fat-ed-craft-1913-1996-folk-doctoring-in-sulphur-springs-texas/



Weeds, Herbs, and Hog Fat: Ed Craft (1913–1996), ‘folk doctoring’ in Sulphur Springs, Texas

Posted in > BLACK CADILLAC REVIEW by David on November 8, 2018

Warren Robert ‘Hank’ Vine of Sulphur Springs, Texas provides this beautiful memory of his uncle, Edward Craft — an isolated and marginalized figure in the local history of Sulphur Springs who was at one time known to family members as an effective herbalist and healer:

1-z48Hi745mTuV_bFIehH_Lw“I was often told growing up that I would be like my uncle Ed. He passed away in my early teens, I knew him fairly well, but not exceedingly well. By the time I was old enough to actually get out and about and go visit him and stuff like that, and I was pretty much the only one that did visit him ever.

He was pretty senile. Couldn’t really carry on the most lucid conversations. In hindsight I wish I would have spent more time with him and taken more notes, because he was reputed, or my grandmother always described him as being a folk doctor, one the family would go to when they had illnesses. I wish somebody was alive I could actually get the correct details on this from.

Although it may be in some of my mother’s notes — they’re such exhaustive notes I don’t know if I could find it. It would take a year to find it. He had some incident when he was a child, like he was 6 or 7, where he fell gravely gravely ill, after it he was partially deaf, I want to say blind in one eye. I could be lying to you on that. I want to say blind in one eye. I know later in life as an old man he was nearly completely blind, but, after the near death experience for lack of a better word apparently he had a degree of insight, an understanding of herbs and poultices and what not.

I don’t think mama put down a whole lot of information in regard to his ‘quote unquote’ healing practices. No one referred to him as a witch or a wizard or anything of that nature. Ed used what my grandma would call, ‘niggra medicine’ or ‘widow healing’. I never gave it a lot of thought growing up.

1-7aGmTwPJoX7QXq3mLSndhgI can always remember my grandmother talking about her brother Ed, her little brother Ed, or Eddie as she would call him a lot of times, could heal anything. Animals were sick, he could take care of them, you know when one of the family got sick, Ed would figure out something, he’d go to the woods, he come back with some weeds, herbs, mix it with some hog fat, make it alright type thing.

I can remember those stories, those are all stories that are passed down and how accurate, i don’t know. The genuine article is never labeled as hoodoo or magic or anything like that. It’s a subtle and unspoken undercurrent to the fabric of peoples lives, often times I don’t think those who carry on the traditions even think of them as a magical, it’s simply what grandma and grandpa did.

He hated having his picture made, never came to Christmas, never anything, was a complete recluse, and other than my mother and I very few of the family went to visit. I think everything he had probably got dozed when the house he had was bulldozed. I don’t think anything got taken out of the house.

1-udeSEa6ukDyfh6YUaWYeNgI would say later in life he was, how would you say, ostracized by the family, I think in hindsight. My grandmother would speak of him, about when he was a child, but I cannot recall – at least in my memory – my grandmother going to visit him. I do not recall him ever being at a family function, Christmas, birthdays, Thanksgiving anything of that nature.

As I can remember, when I got up old enough to kind of get around, sneak around and drive, I wasn’t old enough to drive, but I was still driving. I would take you know thanksgiving dinner, christmas dinner over to him. Generally my mother and I were the only ones to go and visit him.”

By the way folks – turns out Hank’s family was right – he did turn out a bit like his uncle! For more on Hank Vine and his relationship the Santa Muerte (Saint Death) devotional tradition check out:

Photography of Faith – Santa Muerte in Sulphur Springs, Texas

10 Años Enalteciendo a Nuestra Santa Muerte – Reflections on the 2017 anniversary celebration for Santa Muerte Internacional from Hank Vine

Originally published on Medium.