(HOST) Collectors of old, interesting *stuff* love to rummage through New England, looking for treasures. Collectors of old, interesting *stories* do too – like commentator Joe Citro.
(CITRO) I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how legends originate. Some are easy and obvious, but others are more vexing.
I especially like stories about hidden populations: Bigfoot tribes on remote wooded mountaintops, clusters of leprechaun-like little people, surviving groups of runaway slaves – that sort of thing.
I recently discovered a good one from “Connecticut”. Folks in the area tell it as if it is true. Some even claim to have seen the place and viewed its peculiar occupants.
The story goes like this:
Somewhere, on a rutted, narrow, nearly impassable back road in rural “Monroe” stands what the locals call “The House of the Faceless People.”
This ancient, ramshackle, two-story farmhouse is surrounded by swamps and marshland, partially enclosed within a forest of gnarled, bent, and boney-looking trees.
All its windows are boarded-up. As faceless people have no eyes, they have no need of windows. But there is another dimension to this architectural modification: security. The house is fort-like. Impenetrable. As if designed to keep something out. Or in.
If visited at night – and that’s the only time to experience the full effect of the place – the house will appear gray in the moonlight.
It will be entirely dark, as, to the eyeless, interior lighting is as useless as windows.
But, so I’m told, on certain occasions a dim kerosene lamp will be visible through the slats covering the window of one room at the downstairs left front corner. This, it is said, is the caretaker’s room. He’s an old man who oversees the faceless ones.
Though he is occasionally spotted working around the yard or chasing away cars that pass by too slowly, his faceless charges remain a mystery. Those rare individuals who have chanced to glimpse them tell a haunting tale of featureless white domed men, with stretched membrane where their eyes should be, colorless lips, bumps for noses, and holes for ears. These unsettling souls quickly duck out of sight when they sense strangers nearby.
What could they be? The hideous product of some horrible experiment? A pod of earthbound aliens? Or a pathetic population of congenital malformation? We just don’t know; that isn’t part of the legend.
But my question is, How did such a story get started?
Perhaps the answer lies in some elusive swampy hollow on the uncharted back roads of mysterious “Monroe”, “Connecticut”.
Then again, perhaps it’s not legend at all.
This is Joe Citro.
Novelist Joe Citro is a native Vermonter who lives in Burlington. His new book is titled, “Weird New England.”