Davis and his “happiness is Lubbock
in my review mirror” line to the contrary, the Hub City of the Plains
has a lot going for it. There’s exciting college football in the
fall, the Buddy Holly museum, the world’s largest collection of
vintage windmills and plenty of friendly residents.
As windy as it can be, especially in the spring, Lubbock
doesn’t seem like a place that would have any particular appeal
to ethereal apparitions, but not according to Rob Weiner, a librarian
at Texas Tech University. Speaking at the recent meeting of the
West Texas Historical Association, he offered two Lubbock
ghost stories and one strange tale of a man who made his amends
for a ghastly crime one brick at a time.
Before getting started, Weiner stressed that so far as he knew,
none of the local legends have any basis in fact. He moved to Lubbock
with his family when he was 10, first heard the stories as a kid,
and has continued to hear them as an adult, he said. None of them
have ever been published.
first tale centers on a nameless Lubbock
doctor of long ago who despite his Hippocratic oath didn’t care
much for kids. In fact, the story goes, this particular MD disliked
children so much that he took to killing them.
He didn’t go around town overtly doing away with children, of course.
But when kids ended up in his hospital, a worrisome percentage of
them never made it home. They mysteriously died during treatment.
Even tonsillectomies tended to have tragic outcomes.
In a twist that only makes sense in a folk tale the good-bad doctor
covered his evil tracks by burying his clinical “mistakes” on the
The killer physician’s malevolent malpractice continued until the
ghosts of his young victims, demonstrating surprising awareness
of the ancient “eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth” philosophical
concept, in some way killed the doctor. And even though their work
on earth was done, the baby ghosts continued to hang around the
hospital watching over other kids admitted to the facility. Just
“This story is never associated with any particular hospital,” Weiner
said. “But I’ve heard it for years.”
next tale centers on a suburban Lubbock
residence locally known as the “Prison Man’s House.”
Since someone still lives there, the address will go unreported.
But anyone happening to drive by is likely to notice something strikingly
unusual about the one-story brick house: It does not at all match
the other houses in the neighborhood. It looks very much like a
prison unit, minus the bars.
The legend is that back in the 1940s, a man killed his wife. While
duly arrested and convicted of murder, he drew prison time in lieu
of the death penalty. But he got released from Huntsville
on some manner of legal loophole and returned to the free world.
Having grown remorseful during his time behind bars, the man came
to the conclusion that on the cosmic scheme of things, he still
had a debt to pay for doing away with his significant other. So,
legend has it, he built his own personal prison.
“The way the house looks lends to the mythology,” Weiner said. “Whoever
built it just kept building on, the result being a pretty dreadful-looking
place very reminiscent of a prison.”
Indeed, photos Weiner took of the house through his car window show
a low-slung, rambling reddish-orange brick structure with high,
narrow rectangular windows. All in all, the house presents a decidedly
Though the Prison Man’s House is still occupied, its builder has
long since gone to face a higher tribunal in the death of his wife,
leaving behind only his grim architecture.
Weiner told the tale of the “Memphis Man.”
First some geographical
is an easy city to get around in. Most of the east-west streets
are numbered, 1st through 146th. Most of the north-south avenues
are designated with letters in alphabetical order. Mixed in, mostly
also in alphabetical order, are streets named for proper nouns,
including states and cities.
Memphis Street, then, is a north-south thoroughfare that intersects
various numbered streets, including 66th. It is at this intersection
that a ghost known as the Memphis Man supposedly hangs out.
According to Weiner, a Lubbock
man who preferred leaving the driving to others patiently stood
at that corner waiting on a bus one icy winter morning only to end
up catching a free ride to a destination he had not had in mind.
As the bus approached, the large vehicle skidded on the ice and
crashed into the hapless commuter.
The traffic fatality, with the assistance of an optical illusion,
eventually gave rise to the legend that the intersection was not
only busy, it was haunted.
“If you’re driving north on Memphis, when you get to that intersection,
it looks like there’s a man leaning on a utility post near the bus
stop,” Weiner said. “But when you get closer, you see it’s just
a circuit breaker near the pole.”
That completely logical explanation aside, it’s a lot more fun to
envision some poor spirit forever waiting on a bus at Memphis and
Cox - "Texas Tales"
7 , 2011 column
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