Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Walking and Walking and Walking

One of my favorite activities is taking walks with my camera. It is nice being outdoors and there is always so much to see. The other day, I took a walk from the Ballard neighborhood to the Fremont neighborhood. I had a particular destination in mind. Along the ship canal in Fremont is an amazing topiary bush sculpture of a Apatosaurus mother dino with her baby. It is really awesome. But then, right before I got to the sculpture, my camera ran out of batteries! Luckily, I still got lots of great pictures of the walk there.














I recently learned about an interesting fellow who when he was alive, also had a joy for wandering walks. His name was Raymond Robinson and he was born on October 29th, 1910 in the state of Pennsylvania. Raymond Robinson garnered much happiness out of long, rambling, nighttime walks. During his night time walks, he felt at peace and he felt freedom like he never did during any daytime walk.

But Raymond's walks inspired stories of a wandering boogeyman that haunted the Pennsylvania countryside. Children were warned to not venture out during the wee hours of the night because a faceless spook would get them. The fabled boogeyman was known locally by two names. Some knew him as Charlie No Face, to describe the faceless state of the wandering boogie man. Others knew him as the Green Man to describe the green glow that purportedly emanated from the man.

But the alleged no-faced ghost or boogeyman was really just Raymond Robinson, a kind-hearted, gentle man who enjoyed the beauty of a nighttime stroll. He didn't enjoy night to veil sinister deeds, but because it was the time of the day where he was safest from ridicule. When Raymond was a young boy he suffered a horrible accident that mutilated his face.

He was a curious little lad whose excitement to peer into a birds nest overwhelmed his natural good sense to not climb up the bridge where the nest was located. The bridge was the route for a trolley and thus had electrical lines upon it. When little Raymond climbed the bridge, he slipped and his face hit against the electrical line, which resulted in a serious injury.

Raymond was lucky to survive the accident, but his injuries left him blind and seriously disfigured. The world can be cruel to people who look strange, so he retreated from the public, spending his days in the safety of his home. But the night was his time! The cloak of night was his freedom.

Raymond Robinson walked with a stick to guide him. He didn't need his eyes. He could hear the world around him. The swoop of bat wings. The chirp of crickets. The scurry of tiny mammals feet pushing against the dirt as they scurried away from a hungry owl. He could smell the the close bloomed wildflowers, the trees swaying in the wind, the soil underneath his feet. The cool, nighttime air was cool on his skin.  He could sense the story of the night without seeing it. He belonged there with the bats and the crickets and the nocturnal mammals. The only time he didn't belong was when he heard the rumble of the car. Sometimes that rumble, that signal of his isolation from the rest of the world, was enough to send him hiding in the brush until the sound disappeared into the distance.

The neighbors who knew Raymond said he was a kind man. He spent his days with his family making doormats, belts and wallets to sell. He sometimes shared a beer or cigarette with a neighbor while exchanging pleasantries.

But he wasn't know for his ability to create or his conversational skills, he was know for his face, or the face that was missing. People's curiosity brought out their cruelty. The cruelty of curiosity went so far to inspire oglers to park outside his house, as they honked their horn and demanded to see Charlie No Face.

Raymond Robinson would not be their spectacle, but he would not let their rude curiosity deter him. Night came and he wandered. He was struck by several cars during his years of nightly walks. But this didn't stop him either. Night came and he wandered. His identity became blemished and convoluted so who he was to the world was a cliched story of a boogeyman. But this didn't stop him either. Night came and he wandered. Through his wanderings, he was free. Through his wanderings, he was the man he was meant to be.

His life would have been different if he had never climbed that bridge. Like hundreds of thousands of other men, his life would have been simple, his existence lost to history. Maybe he would have married and he would have had children and grandchildren. His descendants would have still been alive now, existing in the world, never thinking twice when they saw a bridge. Maybe Raymond Robinson would have moved to a different town in a different state and built a life for himself there. He probably would have looked like many other men. He probably would have blended in with the crowd. Or maybe he would have grown up to stay in his hometown with his family, making wallets, belts and doormats to earn a living. And even without the motivation to hide his face, maybe he would have been drawn to the night.

Nine months before Raymond Robinson lost his face and changed his future, another boy had an accident on the same bridge. That other boy had never got the chance to become anyone besides a little boy. He had fallen from the bridge and lost his life. Raymond Robinson died too, but not until he was an old man. He was buried at Grandview Cemetery, the same cemetery where the little boy had been buried, that other victim of the trolley bridge. Now they are just bones in the ground, forever connected by parallel fates, forever alive in the legends that galvanize the countryside.


Sources:

"Raymond Robinson (Green Man)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 10 May 2017. Web. 13 May 2017. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymond_Robinson_(Green_Man)>

"Raymond Robinson – the True Story behind the Legend of “Charlie No Face” (aka The Green Man." Altered Dimensions Paranormal. Altered Dimensions, 21 Jan. 2013. Web. 13 May 2017. <http://altereddimensions.net/2013/raymond-robinson-true-story-charlie-no-face-green-man>

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