My wife and I have spent considerable amounts of time and money in downtown New Hope, Pennsylvania. For those of you unfamiliar with this cozy little playhouse town, it’s well worth the stop. One weekend, while vacationing there, I even proposed to my wife (along with several other women who happened to pass at the time). We always try to hit New Hope whenever we’re within a hundred miles of the joint. Speaking of joints, John & Peter’s Place is a must. It’s a bar on Main Street that boasts 37 years of live music. There’s a wooden sliding door to the backroom where many a good band can be heard. But John & Peter have no shame, apparently. Neither do their friends over at Woody & Johnson’s just down the street (members only). New Hope has plenty of good eateries and a few good bars, but the town could use a brewpub, a better beer bar, a humidor, a Belgian bistro, and a few more women who will accept my advances, or at least not involve the authorities. But I’m not complaining, the hell I’m not. Get cracking on that, peeps!
Our trip started out typically enough. My wife and I took the New Hope ghost tour by lantern light, John’s Peter Place for a brew, and then caught a play. Ah, I remember it well. I was dressed as Gomez and my wife was dressed as Morticia Adams (or was it the other way around?). It wasn’t Halloween; we’re just not horribly well is the thing. The next day, our travels took a sinister twist, however. We decided to take an alternate route out of town. The road less traveled, as it were. It’s the kind of decision that prompts Rod Serling to step out from behind some bushes and say something like, “A traveling couple opt for some changes in their itinerary. Unbeknownst to them, their new destination now lies in one of the dangerously undercooked loins of The Twilight Zone.”
On our way northward and homeward, we agreed to do some exploring along the Delaware River. After some sightseeing, we hoped to arrive at the Ship Inn, just over the Jersey border, at or around suppertime. The Ship Inn is a great brewpub, by the way, that serves a mean brown ale. But what happened to the drunken clam appetizer, huh? But I’m not complaining, the hell I’m not. Get cracking on that, peeps!
We never arrived at that infamous drinkery. Mwahahhahahah…
OK, that’s not the scary part, except for those few beer connoisseurs amongst you. We did end up at the Witches’ Brew in Easton, where I managed to set my laptop on fire. The strange part, OK, the strange part for the purpose of this post, happened just north of New Hope, where we found ourselves on this tiny strip of land between the Delaware River and this old canal. The area was secluded, atmospheric, and thick with old oak trees. The place was daunting and had a heavy feel to it, not unlike my friend Jim Blob.
At some point during our northward jaunt, we became lost in a rather desolate section of those Buck’s County badlands. The road we got stuck on was called Upper Black Eddy Road, just off of River Road. We had just driven passed a large structure on the right and Rod Serling puffing on a cigarette to the left, when I decided to take a moment to enjoy this strange and compelling parcel of woodland, and, of course, pop open another can of Big Jug Extra Malt Liquor. OK, not really. I just wanted to get out the map. Women typically can’t navigate, you see, and my wife is no exception. We were driving around in circles for about a half hour and my mascara was running. I only had one girlfriend who could ever use a map properly. Lola, I think her name was. Anyway, we pulled over and I decided to get out of the car. The area was strangely quiet, too quiet. After only a few seconds, I stepped back into the car, grabbed the map, and started the engine.
“What’s wrong?” my wife asked.
“This place gives me the creeps,” I said, and then immediately became rather adamant about finding my old girlfriend, Lola, and a new map (something not refolded ad infinitum by some origami sadist). Besides, I wanted some drunken clams, some brown ale, and some women to propose to during those few blissful moments when my wife is in the can.
An uneasy feeling crept into the core of my being. I had only felt something like that a few other times, most involving my ex, Lola, or undercooked pork products. Seriously, my wife can’t cook pork. She’s not Jewish, she’s just profoundly pork impaired (PPI).
In retrospect, she said it’s the only time I ever seemed spooked (I will leave the eve before my wedding out of this). Since adulthood, I only remember three similar spook-related-experiences (SREs). Two occurred in the presence of a guy named Shag, and the last took place in the heart of the Superstition Mountains with a guy named Pokey. Don’t read too deeply into this. A guy named Shag and Pokey; I know what you’re thinking, but we’re all straight. Well, Shag is iffy, but the rest of us are dead butch. Oh, how fondly I recall those summers up at PokeShag Mountain.
After much fear and loathing, we did eventually find our way out of that foul and terrible place and, once we arrived home, I pulled out a proper map and found the very spot where we had stopped. I looked online only to discover the piece of real estate we were poking about was known as the Devil’s Half-Acre. The Devil had originally wanted an entire acre, or so the story goes, but something about a really good fiddle player, Daniel Webster, and one bitch of a real estate agent and, well, have some sympathy for the devil, will ya?
A tavern is the only structure standing in the middle of Salem’s lot. It was built in the 1800s (by drunken demons I suppose) and was frequented by the workers who dredged out the nearby canal. The original owner was a questionable sort (not unlike our own Ghetto Shaman) and he was often in trouble with the authorities (not unlike our own Dave Atsals). Legend has it that the whole place is overrun by the spirits of the dead canal workers who died at the tavern during many-a-wild bar brawl (tragically just before happy hour). The losers of these fights were said to be buried somewhere on the grounds by the owner of the place. Apparently, there are all kinds of critters buried behind Farmer Vincent’s shitters. The Devil’s Half Acre is actually part of Solebury Township and how many souls are buried behind that dark and terrible place remains unclear. Mwaahahahah. Taverns don’t usually bother me, but taverns that no longer serve beer apparently scare the shit of me. If you’re really quiet in those accursed woods, you can almost here those spirits saying: Is it still happy hour? Are there free wings by chance? And, who the hell just broke that bottle over my head?
If you ever find yourself driving along that windy lonesome river road, dressed like Morticia Adams, go with someone who knows how to navigate, like Lola, and pop open some Big Jug Extra Malt Liquor for those thirsty tragic spirits of yore.