"It was a dark and stormy night". Actually, it wasn't dark and stormy but all ghost stories should start out that way. It was about 1952, somewhere around Halloween and a crystal clear. cold night. We lived in Desoto Manor, apartment 190, and I was 7 years old. One night, my eyes flew open from a sound sleep, dogs had started barking down the sidewalk. My bedroom was small, and the window looked out on the sidewalk between two apartments. There was a thin, watery light from a street lamp down on the street, enough light so I could see the figure of a man, I thought, walking down the sidewalk slowly. He was in a tee shirt and skivvies, as best I could tell. I needed glasses but didn't know it, so my vision was blurry and he appeared as if he had no edges, just a liquidy spirit to me. I was very frightened and jumped back in the bed and covered my head. At that time, guards patrolled the area and evidently someone called the guards and two patrol cars came to the apartments. It was not really a ghost but a person who he had no business being in this sheltered community, walking around scaring people, so they needed to hunt him down and throw the book at him. I believe that we may have had a curfew but unsure of that, but no one was supposed to be out that time of night, doing heaven knows what.
The guards got their flash lights and people began appearing out their doors in their bathrobes and slippers, watching the progress of the hunt, deliciously frightened. Adrenaline was pumping. In this safe community, we actually had an intruder! Imagine! Boy, what those guards were going to do when they found him, hang him in the middle of the night, maybe! He dared come in our safe community and wake us up. People were chatting from their stoops. We actually didn't have porches, just a little concrete step-up. Everyone looked in their closets and under beds in their apartments but this vicious serial killer was not to be found. The guards patrolled the roads and not a single human was out. This apparition had just disappeared and been swallowed up by the Bynum dirt. It was frightening to think that there was somewhere for someone this dangerous to hide in our community. Did he have an accomplice who was sheltering him? We shuddered to think that one of our own would embrace that snake who meant so much harm.
Finally, one of the guards thought to look in the coal bins. These coal bins were no longer in use but still bore black reminders of past use. There, in the coal bin was Bobby Stephens, who lived across the sidewalk from us. He had been sleepwalking and was still asleep when they got him out of the coal bin. He was sooty and docile and very cold, and the guards handed him over to his parents and I don't think he ever woke up from his night rambling. We all seemed disappointed that they didn't find a killer. Everyone went back to their apartments but the adrenaline was still pumping, so it was hard to get back to sleep. What an adventure!
After that, when Bobby would go on his nighttime strolls down our block, the dogs would wake us up and someone would get him and gently lead him home to his parents and safety.
Sheila Slaten Crump, Apartment 190, Desoto Manor, October, 1952