Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Friday, October 30, 2009

Stickhorse Cowgirl "V": A True Horror Story

I've been meaning to write this story for a long time, but to be truthful, the whole story with all the disturbing memories gives me a major case of the willies, because it involves someone who was a part of our family for several years.


  Sometime in 1956, my paternal grandmother married a 60 yr. old batchelor against my father's wishes.  In fact, my grandmother did not even announce the event until it was over because I'm sure she  knew my dad would object.  He did not "hate" my grandmother's new husband, and there was always a polite, cordial relationship on the surface, but Mr. Cooper was more than just a little strange.  This old newspaper clipping  was the public announcement of this marriage.


Mr. Cooper was dignified and refined in manner with a somewhat austere countenance.  He was also impeccable in dress and I especially remember that he always seemed to be "dressed up" and he wore long silky black socks that seemed a little weird to me.  He also had a penchant for bourbon in expensive crystal decanters.

  I recall him lifting my sister and me up in the air, but neither of us felt comfortable in his presence. We were just a little afraid of him.  He rarely visited our home because we had a pet  who just happened to be a black cat named Marianne and Mr. Cooper was superstituous to the extreme.  Black cats were bad luck and he would turn the car around rather than let one cross his path if he could help it. On the rare occasions he did visit, we locked the cat in my parent's bathroom.  Mr. Cooper was the only child of a prominent family.  His father was a dentist and  he maintained a close relationship with his widowed mother, never marrying while she was still alive. Red flag#1!  Right? 




Mr. Cooper was particular and controlling about everything in their home.  I always loved the beautiful antique carved walnut settee and chair, covered in deep blue velvet upholstery which he had inherited from his mother.  Their modest bungalow on North Taylor St. had a large dining room with a beautiful cherry china cupboard full of Grandmother Elsie's crystal goblets and silver and Mr. Cooper's Haviland china  with which the table was set for all the holiday dinners.  These dinners revealed another peculiar eccentricity of Mr. Cooper.  The food had to be cooked just so--and he preferred it overdone! His favorite summer squash was preferred to be served slightly scorched--and my grandmother told us that on one occasion when it was not cooked to his liking, he jumped up in a rage and tossed it out in the yard.  Although he occasionally revealed his peevish side in our presence, he saved his raging temper tantrums for my grandmother and her housekeeper who once fled the home when he began crashing the crystal goblets and destroyed some of her jewelry with a hammer.  This tirade ended when he pushed my grandmother down the front steps causing deep bruises which I will never forget.  He was livid with jealousy because he had learned that my grandfather who was her first husband was visiting our home.  The crystal goblets he destroyed were a gift from my grandfather's sister.  Some years later when we perused old photos of my grandmother's albums, we discovered to our dismay that he had scratched out her face in the treasured photo of her high school basketball team. 

One of the good memories of visiting my grandmother's home during that period is that Mr. Cooper often went duck hunting in the fall and it is then when I would go to spend the night with her.  Special breakfasts of cinnamon toast made with thick slices of " homemade" bread from Frank's Bakery and served with real cocoa to drink, and dessert of partially frozen raspberries with Lucky Whip topping were special treats I only had on these rare overnight visits.  Mr. Cooper also had a speckled bird dog, Frisco, who was gentle and frisky and I loved to play with him.  Unfortunately, Mr. Cooper showed his true colors, being a overbearing, mean dog owner who had to show his dog who was boss. Red flag #2 Beware of men who are mean to animals!

 Grandmother Elsie had been self sufficient for years, having raised my father mostly by herself, and she was not one to tolerate bad treatment for long.  Soon before the domestic violence incident, she had discovered that Mr. Cooper was consulting a "fortune teller" who had told him about a large sum of money and jewelry buried in a cemetery.  When she discovered that he had actually been probing around that cemetery, she left and moved in with us until she could move  into a rent house she owned.  Except for my dad, we were all afraid of what Mr. Cooper might do.  Mother was certain he was watching our house.  I remember being afraid to go to bed at night because my mother wasn't one to consider that it might frighten children to announce that Mr. Cooper was crazy and might kill us all!!!

 Well, we all survived the domestic drama and it wasn't too many years later that we learned that Mr. Cooper had married again to a wealthy society woman.  Imagine our shock when in the late l960's we read in the paper that Mr. Cooper had been murdered by this new wife in a murder/suicide!!  My grandmother was greatly troubled by the news and even attended the funeral for Mr. Cooper, I suspect mainly due to curiosity rather than respect.  His neighbor commented to her at the service that Mr. Cooper was the most evil man he ever met.  Caveat#3 Run as fast as you can away from anyone consulting fortune tellers and probing around cemeteries!!!


One of the most disturbing aspect of the shocking news was the violent way in which Mr. Cooper met his end.  We knew the charming side, but beneath that cool demeanor, there lurked a dark, disturbed side which apparently drove a woman to commit murder and suicide.  Why did she not just leave like my grandmother did?  She had plenty of money and was an only child herself with an elderly mother dependent on her.  Was it really a suicide and not a double murder?  The fact that there were notes left concerning disposition of personal affairs does seem to support the suicide, but who on earth could smother themself with a plastic bag over their head?!!!  "C" surmised as we discussed it recently that she must have sedated herself.  Obviously all this speculation is a mystery that no one will ever know the answer to.

 I recently decided to drive by the home where this terrible event occurred.  It is a  beautiful home in a lovely older neighborhood where property values have increased greatly through the years.  It is such a gorgeous place, that you would never dream that something so sordid and horrible occured in the upstairs bedrooms.  I do know that I could never cross the threshold of this beautiful house.  Call it silly if you will, because although I am not superstituous,  I do believe in a supernatural realm where evil presences as well as angelic presences dwell among us.  So what do you think?  Could you live in a home where a horrific crime occured?


24 comments:

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

I can vouch for this story!! Mr. Cooper was a "creepy" feature of our childhood. His coming to V's house was an "event" that all us kids anticipated, much like the Finch kids in "To Kill a Mockingbird" crept around the Radley house. "Mawmaw Elsie" was a wonderful, intelligent woman who could just never find a good man!! Great Halloween Post, V--shudders!! C

Farmchick said...

This is a good story and it is creepy! I don't think I could live in a house where that horror occurred. Too much bad "juju", if you know what I mean.

Debbie said...

Yes. It's a beautiful home. "Realms" don't congregate in spaces where evil things have happened. I think the worse thing we can say about this situation is that 'sin' took its toll. His neighbor was obviously correct when he said the guy was evil. When Mr. Cooper left, so did evil he committed. As for the wife, it's possible that she just got so depressed and may have been afraid he'd do it to her if she tried to excape him. He reminds me of my ex son-in-law; outwardly respectable, but a nut case on the inside. I'm glad your grandma had the sense to leave when she did. Abusive men are even more plentiful today.
Debbie

Conni said...

Perfect story for Halloween! I'm glad your Grandma got away from him!

Thanks for your kind comment on my blog.

Betty said...

Wow! That's quite a story...I'm so thankful your grandmother was wise enough and strong enough to leave...

Betty @ Country Charm

KathyB. said...

Yes, creepy and sad. Look at how many people such evil men and women can affect. I agree with Debbie regarding evil in the supernatural realm...but I do believe demons ( fallen angels) often cause us to experience such "hauntings" to further increase our fear and turn us to unhealthy pursuit of them. I have experienced such things within my childhood family.Most definitely nothing to play around with and I don't think I would want to live in the home knowing this history!

carla said...

No way would I live in that house. I'm not superstitious and I don't believe in ghosts, but I do believe in angels and demons. Wasn't there a battle between those 2 forces when Daniel was praying? As a Believer, I don't believe that those evil spirits can harm me, but neither do I go places that I know are in Satan's kingdom. Once I was visiting my son at the house of some of his friends and they had a lot of witchcraft stuff - I prayed silently the whole time I was there.

As for creepy relatives - my older cousin's husband was someone who I was really afraid of when I was a child. He never did anything to me, but there was something really scary about him. After he died, I learned that he had beaten his wife and one of his daughters for years, and was unfaithful to his wife with one of his dead daughter's friends. In fact, the one who found her body (she died of accidental asphyxiation). Really glad your grandmother got out.

Queenmothermamaw said...

Wow that is a very timely story. Glad your Grandma got out when she did. I could not live in a house like that. There was a murder suicide on the street next to ours, you can see the house from my front door. and when walking there one day I met the new owners. She commented they knew about the traumatic thing that happened. I know the house was gutted and redone, but whoo I am not superstitious but it would make me wonder about all the unhappiness there.
QMM

jan said...

A very timely story for Halloween. I am not sure if I could stay in a house such as that one. I know that when we emptied our Kansas house, it didn't seem like our house anymore, without our 'stuff' in it. So maybe it would be okay if it were emptied and filled with other people's stuff.

kath001 said...

Great post. The photos and original clippings really pulled me in...shudder!

Don't know about living in a house where such fear and sad events occurred. I guess it would depend on what kind of feelings being there brought to me.

celaine53f@comcast.net said...

Girl, this is Cee2...I remember you telling me this story years ago but I don't remember ever hearing the creepy ending!!! The new grandson is super darling!

Eggs In My Pocket / Yesteryear Embroideries said...

What a heartbreaking story. Your poor Grandma! So many weird things can be caused by disturbed people. Very scary story! blessings,Kathleen

Country Girl said...

What a creepy story and perfect for this time of year.
No! I could never live in a house where a murder had been committed. My brother and his wife moved to a home in Philadelphia about 8 years ago. They were thrilled because they had gotten a great deal on the place. On move-in day, a neighbor guy came over and introduced himself. My brother told him what a great deal he'd gotten and the neighbor told him it was probably because of the suicide in the garage, showing him the beam the former owner had hung himself on. The realtor had never disclosed this. My brother stayed for about a year, and then they moved on. It was just too much for them.

Chris H said...

Soiunds like your step-grandfather reaped what he sowed! Sad about his second wife though.
The house is beautiful.
I would live in it.
I don't believe in ghosts, evil spirits and the like.
Not superstitious either.
A house is a home if you put love into it... lots of love.

addhumorandfaith said...

What an interesting story, V. But Hubby and I are wondering why they were so sure SHE killed both of them. Her head in a bag and him shot seems to us like he would have been the killer. And, the way you describe him certainly makes him sound capable of it!

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

I thought the same thing, Sandra, but if you read farther down in the news article, it says that he was shot once in the back of the head and through the neck. I don't think anyone can shoot themselves in the back of the head, so she must have been the one. V.

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Anonymous said...

I once read a book on criminology that said women who commit suicide usually choose a method that doesn't mess up their face (for the funeral). This may be old wisdom, but these were old deaths.

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Joy said...

I remember reading of a family that moved into the house in Kansas where the family lived that were killed by two men--'In Cold Blood'. The father and son were killed in the basement--with a shotgun. Horrific. I don't think I'd move into a house that had been the scene of a crime. And I agree with your point about the supernatural realm--but yes, ultimately, 'sin' is to blame.

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