[00:00:02] Speaker A: Welcome back to Plot Pit, the show where we forge fiction from fact and folklore. William Atkinson in studio with John Lemay. And on the phone, we have Caroline Giamanco back for round two, continuing the Ozark Howler story. Hello, Caroline. How are you?
[00:00:16] Speaker B: I'm doing well. I hope you're doing well, too.
[00:00:18] Speaker A: So far so good, John.
[00:00:20] Speaker C: Yeah, and you know, last time we didn't really have time to talk about it, but you mentioned how how you briefly lived in Roswell during the 1997 50th anniversary. Would you mind elaborating on that just a little bit?
[00:00:34] Speaker B: Yeah. I was teaching in Roswell at the time, and it just happened to be during that time frame. And I actually worked with a woman whose father was one of the people who had gone out to the crash site initially before the military or anybody got there. It was local law enforcement, and he was out there, and she swore that it was absolutely legitimate.
[00:00:58] Speaker C: I have to ask, what school did you teach at?
[00:01:01] Speaker B: It was Del Norte.
[00:01:03] Speaker C: Oh, goodness. So I just barely missed you.
Wait, you know what? I take that back. 1997, I was still in Del Nordi. It was just like one of my last years. So you and I were in the same school. I would have been, let's see, 1997. I would have been in fifth or 6th grade, basically my last year at Del Nordi, so that's crazy. What grade did you teach back then? Do you remember?
[00:01:27] Speaker B: I was doing gifted enrichment, so I was doing really any of the kids that were in the gifted program.
[00:01:33] Speaker C: Well, I was not gifted, so even though I've written 50 books, I'm still not gifted. So that's why I didn't see you. But that's so cool. We were in the same school at the same time.
[00:01:42] Speaker A: Oh, come on, John. You're giving me a gift once a week.
[00:01:46] Speaker B: I can't remember her name, but I can still see her. I think she was a third or fourth grade teacher who was the one that her father had that experience at the crash site. So I don't know if you would remember who she is. She had dark hair, possibly.
[00:01:59] Speaker C: So many people in town really have a tie to the UFO crash, so it doesn't surprise me one bit. And I also totally believe them. There's really not very many people in Roswell that exploit that. Most of them are pretty serious about this happened, but please don't tell anybody, that sort of thing.
[00:02:15] Speaker B: Right. Well, I remember one night when we were living in Roswell, my boys were little. They were kindergarten and second grade at the time, and it was just my oldest son and me at home. My youngest son had gone to the movies with the neighbors and there were all these lights in the sky and they were sending up planes up there. And for like two nights in a row it happened. And everybody around town is kind of like, did you see that last night? Did you see what happened? And it was really pretty crazy. These were darting back and forth at angles and at speeds and then just coming to a complete stop that none of our stuff could do that. And it was just a really weird situation. And it turned out that my youngest son could see it. The family that he'd gone to the movies with driving home, they saw it and they were watching it out the car. And it actually scared my little guy so bad that he wouldn't sleep by windows after that for years.
[00:03:25] Speaker C: I don't blame him. Yeah. I think a lot of children, once they learn of the concept of alien abduction, it's very scary.
[00:03:33] Speaker B: Yeah. I mean, just regular abductions are really scary for kids, but the thought of it being aliens is just a whole other yeah.
[00:03:41] Speaker A: Yeah, absolutely. So what brought you to Roswell in the first place and then what took you out?
[00:03:46] Speaker B: Well, I had moved back to Missouri. I had been teaching in New Mexico and then had moved back to Missouri because my mom was terminally ill. And then when she passed away, I had a former principal who worked in Roswell and he said, why don't you come on back to New Mexico? So I worked out there for a and because you'd starve to death, especially back then on Missouri pay. So then I ended up getting a high school position back in Arizona, so I moved again.
[00:04:20] Speaker A: So you've kind of been around the, you know, Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona, and various areas teaching, writing, English, history, English.
[00:04:30] Speaker B: Yeah. And I graduated from the University of Arizona and my first teaching job was in Bloomfield, New Mexico, at Mesa Alta Junior High. That was my first teaching job. I don't know if you know where that is. It's up in the four corners area.
[00:04:45] Speaker C: Vaguely. Yeah. I was just thinking, I wish I could have had you as my English teacher because that would have been so cool because I always loved my English teachers. And if one of my English teachers was a guest on the show, that'd be so cool. So I'm disappointed we missed each other while you were in Roswell.
[00:04:58] Speaker B: But that's really claim we will just claim that since I was in the building that I was one of your teachers. How's that?
[00:05:05] Speaker C: Sure.
[00:05:06] Speaker A: Yeah. And then if we ever did a time travel episode, I'm sure we could sink the two of you together.
[00:05:10] Speaker C: John yeah.
[00:05:11] Speaker A: All right, well, let's dive more into some fact and folklore. John, you had a couple other ideas that you wanted to bring to this particular story with the Ozark Haller coming off of our previous episode. Why don't you throw some stuff out on the table and let's take it from there?
[00:05:27] Speaker C: Yeah. So first of all, this will serve as a brief little recap. So we vaguely formed a story around the ozark haller. And we set it in the 1920s, during the prohibition era. And we're playing with this idea that the monster is linked in with moonshine and stills in some way. And it brought to mind a real life account from the 1930s from Maine. They had a folkloric monster called the snally gaster. And the thing you I love that name. Yeah. So cool. And it's not really like the ozark haller. It's more of a bird monster. It flies. And you have to remember in the early days of newspapers, probably prior to world War II, all the way up to that era, they would sometimes do hoax stories just for fun. They wouldn't tell you that the story was a hoax, they just would print it as though it was real news.
[00:06:18] Speaker A: Yeah. Didn't you call these, like, snake stories or snake stories? But the snake is misspelled?
[00:06:24] Speaker C: Yes, they would purposely misspell snake to let you know it was a false story for those in the know. So Snelly gaster was the same thing. And in the 1930s, they had this series of newspaper articles where they claimed this flying monster was terrorizing the area and it was always linked in with moonshine stills. And the story ended with the monster flying over a huge VAT of moonshine. And it was so overcome by the fumes from the alcohol that it fell into the big 2500 gallon VAT of liquor and it succumbed to it. And its bones, like, dissolved in the moonshine because it was so strong. And then the moonshine investigators decided they didn't want the public to see the bones, so they dynamited the moonshine still and they used real names of real law enforcement men. But obviously the story was just a hoax. And they also had a picture of the Snelly gaster in the paper that was kind of convincing, but not quite. So, again, passed off as a real story. Wasn't quite. Some people have since speculated that the only truth in the snowy gaster story was that moonshiners would imitate cries of the monster to scare people away from their stills. And I say this for William because he's already in the green room, he put forth an idea for the story, and I thought he'd think that was so because I know he's kind of got some ideas along those. You know, we're not going to use the snally gaster in our story. I just know our listeners, they love the real stuff. So I thought I'd throw that out there. The story of the Snallygaster for anyone who's interested in it, and the real.
[00:07:56] Speaker A: Stuff here being the fact that a story existed of this hoaxed creature.
[00:08:01] Speaker C: Yeah, but I did have a couple of things that I thought we could possibly add to our current story. When I found these earlier, I kind of thought of them as just the topics for episode two. But I honestly don't think we could have crafted a whole story around either of these. So I think they can just kind of serve as some additional aspects for this story we're working on. Know, I tried to find stuff from the Appalachian region, and one of them was the Vampire Chair of Tennessee. They had a legend that there was this chair that was cursed, and if you sat in it, it would suck the life out of you would if you accidentally pricked yourself on, like, a wooden sliver from the chair, it would drain your you know, it's basically exactly what the name says it was. The Tennessee Vampire chair.
[00:08:54] Speaker A: That almost sounds like Texas old Sparky.
[00:08:57] Speaker C: Tell me about that, please, because I've never heard of that.
[00:08:59] Speaker A: Well, Old Sparky is the electric chair from, like, the 1920s or thirty s of the Texas correctional facilities that they used to execute prisoners with. Okay. I believe it was actually a horror film kind of based on that particular concept in the 1990s. It was like a made for TV film or a B rate movie off of cable TV back in the 90s, set in a correctional facility, and this prisoner was electrocuted to death from the death sentence, and then his spirit haunted the cell block. It was like that old classic 1990s horror. Really badly done, that type of thing.
[00:09:38] Speaker B: I think probably the person who came up with the Tennessee Vampire Chair had probably just sat at one of those old unfinished picnic tables and got stabbed. Really?
[00:09:48] Speaker A: Oh, yes.
The really old school picnic tables at the 1940s park that the cities let just go to. All hell in a handbasket. Sun bleached and woods all dried up. Yeah, I remember when I was a kid, we lived in an old 1912 Victorian kind of farmhouse, classic 30 foot by 30 foot box, two and a half stories, 1212 peaked roof that Victorian pale yellow. Okay. And wraparound porch, that classic 1910 19, 1890 look home. And hardwood floors. Well, my cousin and I, those hardwood floors get slick, kind of like tile does if you're in your socks. And so we were doing the Tom Cruise thing. It wasn't Tom Cruise, it's Tom Hanks, where you kind of run, get a running start and then slide across.
[00:10:40] Speaker C: I think that is Tom Cruise. Risky Business.
[00:10:43] Speaker A: Okay.
[00:10:44] Speaker B: Risky Business.
[00:10:44] Speaker A: All right. Risky business with Tom Cruise. Okay. So there you go. You got that going on. And it just so happened to be that I had finished my slide, and then my cousin's coming in behind me, and he gets this eight inch splinter right from the and he does know nice, cool slide, and then hits that splinter jams into his foot and does a complete faceplant. So ended up with a hospital trip and some stitches on that one. But, John, you look like you're ready for the Vampire Chair.
[00:11:11] Speaker C: Yeah, the Vampire Chair is a cool story, and I'm glad I refreshed real quick. So the full story in brief is that in 1917, a road crew was working in Bradley County, Tennessee, and they accidentally came across a body, like an older body, mummified after many years. And it was like a vampire. Someone had put a stake through the chest. And as it turned out, it wasn't actually a stake. It was the leg of a chair that they had staked this person with. And then they dug into local folklore. And the folklore stated that this was the body of a witch. And the villagers, kind of like in an old universal horror movie, had stormed her house one night to kill her. They broke the leg off of a chair and then impaled her with it or staked her through their heart like a vampire. Probably not true, but that's just the folklore of the story. The story continues, though, that her house was nicely furnished, and instead of just burning it all to the ground, they all took what they wanted from her house. Somebody took the chair that was missing, the leg that they had used to stake her with, and they gave it a new leg and repaired it. And that was the vampire chair that sucked the life out of you. So maybe we can use that. We're going to be dealing with an Appalachian witch in our story, so we might could use that. We'll see.
[00:12:26] Speaker B: Oh, that was the howler's mother.
[00:12:28] Speaker C: Could be, yeah. And one more thing before we move on. Similar to the vampire chair, they also have the they call it the cussing coverlet, and that's a vampire quilt that a witch would knit. And when she would give it to you, the quilt would strangle you in the night. So that's just maybe like another toy that the witch has perhaps in our story. But that's another thing. If you're interested in Google, the cussing coverlet.
[00:12:53] Speaker A: And John pulled out of his book cowboys and Vampires.
[00:12:58] Speaker C: Cowboys and vampires.
[00:12:59] Speaker A: The Vampire Chair. So there will also be a link down in the podcast description for those items as well. Let's begin the descent. So coming off of our previous episode, we have the ozark howler. And in this episode, we are potentially putting into it some more Appalachian folklore, including the vampire chair, maybe some witches, and a potentially knitted quilt.
[00:13:25] Speaker C: Yeah, the cussing coverlet.
[00:13:28] Speaker A: The cussing coverlet.
[00:13:29] Speaker C: I don't know why they called it the cussing coverlet, but I mean, that's what it's called in folklore.
[00:13:33] Speaker A: But I don't know, maybe you give it to a sleep talker. Yeah, with a foul mouth. All right. OOH, a sailor who sleep talks. Yeah. Okay, but we're not dealing with sailors in this episode. What we've got now is Farmer Jones leaves his house in the middle of the night because there are rumors of some unfortunate business happening to local farm animals as well as other high society members of a community. And Farmer Jones in the Prelude gets murdered by the presumed ozark howler. He had his prized cow coming up for potential first place at the local county fair. As we investigated our story in Act One, we discover that the whole of the community is basically a front for some underground illicit activities, including the production and sale of local moonshine. There are some other individuals that are on the outskirts of this thriving community that are effectively not so well off and that the high members of society, including the local sheriff, are turning into slave labor, shall we say. They've promised all the goods, but they are failing to deliver. Meanwhile, Moonshine is still being brood and shipped. What next? Yeah.
[00:14:43] Speaker C: And, Caroline, tell us about our heroine.
[00:14:46] Speaker B: Well, she is the school teacher, one of the local school teachers, and she wants to avenge the murder of her husband. And I also think that maybe so that there's a law enforcement, a positive law enforcement spin to it, that there is a deputy who's just come to town. He's not from the area, and he isn't part of the inside because he's so straight narrow that nobody else on the force has wanted to let him in on the fact that they're all part of this illicit ring. And so the two of them put their heads together to solve this series of crime.
[00:15:26] Speaker A: I kind of like this.
[00:15:28] Speaker C: Yeah, me, too.
[00:15:28] Speaker A: This could be an individual come in from DC. Off of Hoover's, very early stages of the FBI, right. During the Prohibition era, when they're trying to right. So I don't remember if that was the FBI with J. Edgar Hoover during Prohibition. I think it was.
I'm a little dusty on my history there, but it would be one of the federal investigators, I would know, because we are at the heart of basically the bootleg Prohibition Prohibition all of that time wise and in that particular part of the country.
So NASCAR, right? The stock car races and stuff. Right. NASCAR has its roots and history of basically outrunning the Feds for the issue of the local moonshine. And the stock car races were how far could you get without busting the bottles in your trunk? Yeah, okay. Yeah, I'm kind of digging this. We also have the potential to hit some Al Capone in the Mafia.
[00:16:25] Speaker C: Right.
[00:16:26] Speaker A: Some influence coming down from Chicago.
[00:16:28] Speaker C: Well, maybe there's a mob, and in the mob, they have a witch that helps.
Maybe I don't know if I imagine it up in Chicago, because they wouldn't really have an Appalachian witch, but maybe there's, like, a rural version of the mob, and they have a witch that either is their secret leader or just in their arsenal. But I was just seeing well, I.
[00:16:50] Speaker B: Was just thinking that maybe there's a triumvirate that wants to solve this. Maybe there's the goody two shoes school teacher, the goody two shoes deputy, and a mob boss who is tired of his men getting killed down there, and he's trying to figure out what's going on. They never would have associated beforehand, but they form a partnership in order to stop the killings.
[00:17:18] Speaker C: Yeah, that's some interest. Definitely.
[00:17:21] Speaker A: So, the school teacher wants to discover and take revenge on the individual who has murdered her farming husband. The FBI agent wants to take out the local hub of moonshine distilleries, and the mob boss wants to not only take out the issue of competition from the perspective of losing his men in the mafia wars and everything, but also wants to harness the productive power of the appalachian hills.
[00:17:55] Speaker B: Yeah. New territory.
[00:17:57] Speaker A: Now, you had mentioned sassafras, and if we're kind of going the paranormal route, sassafras being the major ingredient to give root beer or the non alcoholic version or non alcoholic malt beverage its flavor. We could have sassafras as being, like, an antidote. And let's say one of the reasons why the mafia is so interested in this particular part of the moonshine business is the liquor that's coming out of this particular area is particularly intoxicating. It's almost like hallucinogenic.
[00:18:33] Speaker B: Good. I like this.
[00:18:35] Speaker A: Maybe it has something to do with that chair.
[00:18:37] Speaker C: Well, my thoughts on the chair and the cussing coverlet. So I feel like the cussing coverlet is just in the witch's arsenal. And one of the heroes. I feel like at the end of this, towards the end of the story, when we're in that third act stretch where the heroes are in peril, I feel like one of the heroes gets wrapped up in that cussing. Coverlet and can't get out of it and has to come up with some interesting way to get out of this quilt that's strangling him. Or her, whichever one. And they need to get out of the quilt so they can go and give the other character the needed information or save the other character. So that's how I saw that playing into it. As far as the know, there's the lore that the leg of the chair Killed the witch. So I thought, well, what if they have to find the special vampire chair and they have to get the other leg to be the stake to kill the witch that is the ozark howler or something like that?
[00:19:36] Speaker A: We've got our MacGuffin.
[00:19:39] Speaker B: And what if the wood the chair was made out of was sassafrask?
[00:19:43] Speaker C: I didn't know sassafras could be a wood. So I like that.
[00:19:46] Speaker B: Oh, it's a tree. Yeah, I like that.
And how about if it's actually the mafia guy who rescues the deputy from the cussing coverlet?
[00:19:59] Speaker C: Yeah, that'd be a great twist, because.
[00:20:00] Speaker B: The deputy so then the bad guy actually maybe isn't completely bad.
[00:20:06] Speaker A: Yeah.
[00:20:06] Speaker C: In that way, the ozark howler witch is the real big bad, and you got the enemies working together to defeat the worst enemy. So I like that.
[00:20:17] Speaker A: Okay, so what I'm kind of getting here is a little bit of a family feud. Okay. You've got this community where you've got the upper class and then you have the surrounding rural community which are a little bit more of the farmers and the workers of the area and it's not necessarily a family feud you could play into like class warfare or just one side of town versus the other side of town.
With this being the situation you've got high society folks in this community taking advantage of the knowledge and the labor that the working class have for distillery right, the moonshine business and they're the ones with the means for production of labor. Production and labor. They've got all of this equipment. They've already been doing this for generations. Right? And it's only now that we have prohibition where alcohol has been banished or made illegal that suddenly it becomes profitable. And the townsfolk, the mayor, the sheriff and all of these, they have the connections necessary to actually make profit off of the product. And this is where they start making ties with the mafia. Okay? And the mafia as we know, they're running liquor and everything all over the country and through that process the working class gets spurned and so the working class decides for whatever reason as they're not getting their pay or they don't think they're getting their fair share of the profits because they're the ones that most at risk. One, because bathtub moonshine is not particularly all that sanitary and they're the ones who are having to test all of this stuff and then of course it's also known that some of these distilleries would blow up because of inappropriate safety protocols and everything. So I'm kind of getting the idea that you've got a brewing pot of tension that eventually cracks, explodes, and we've not really discovered or answered the question of where does the ozark howler come from?
And so I'm starting to think, what if the ozark howler is either the witch concocting up some spell to bring out this hellhound, or it's an entirely fictitious or mythological creature that the townsfolk just start creating to scare the high.
[00:22:49] Speaker B: Society folk and to cover the murders, because then they can just climb it with the howler.
[00:22:54] Speaker A: And so that would be the twist, right? You've got a bunch of moonshiners running around in the woods with a giant tin bucket and they've got like a piece of wood or a rock or something, they're scraping on the inside to make that weird growl and howl and then that's how they keep the feds and the mafia away, right? Because nobody knows this area better than them. And now you've got all these stories running around about this strange creature up in the woods and you've got these cattle mutilations and everything else and then they start killing off the high society folks out of vengeance, right, and to keep the COVID up going, they're scraping that barrel or doing something.
[00:23:32] Speaker C: Yeah, I think either one is great and both of them have their different merits for sure.
[00:23:36] Speaker A: So if we were to do a complete monster on the loose, paranormal, 1920s based, but 70s made, low budget film, we could do the witch with the demon hellhound. Or if you wanted to go more the Baskerville, Sherlock Holmes murder mystery type idea, then what you would have is this completely concocted story that the community as a large or as a whole use to scare outsiders away and to cover up their house cleaning.
[00:24:07] Speaker C: Yeah, I like both those.
[00:24:08] Speaker A: What do you think, Caroline?
[00:24:10] Speaker B: I do too. I like both of those. I think that if we're doing a 1970s show, I think that having an actual human cause at the end might make more sense because rural people are kind of like portrayed as not being as sharp. And I'm a country girl, so that's no insult to anybody. I'm just saying that those of us who have a little bit of an accent tend to be looked at as a little less intelligent, a little more superstitious. And so it would be a perfect cover story to really not have there be a creature. But what would be cool is if at the end, though, when the lower income people, the people who are the ones putting their necks up because they're the ones getting arrested for moonshining, when the officers come in and they're paying the price, but they're not getting compensated correctly. If at the very end, while they're all talking about how they got away with these murders and nobody's ever going to know, they're going to think it was the howler that did it. If we had a pair of red glowing eyes watching them from the woods.
So then the question is, was it just a made up story or did they just happen hit on something that was actually true, but they don't even know it?
[00:25:30] Speaker A: Or they knew it and they harnessed it and made a deal with the devil. Yeah. And now after all of the stuff that they wanted has come to fruition, they've got to pay the price. And you end up with the sequel, part two. But that's the cash grab. We folks, this has been just an absolute blast here with Caroline Giamanco. Caroline, thank you for participating in the program today. It's been a pleasure having oh, well.
[00:25:59] Speaker B: Thank you very much. It's been fun being on here. And if people like spooky, paranormal science fiction, twisted tales that make you think but yet are fun, then they can take a look at my into the Night series. And it's on Amazon.
[00:26:14] Speaker A: The into the Night series on Amazon by Caroline Giamanco. I will have a link in the podcast description below. Caroline, give us a little bit about that on our way out.
[00:26:25] Speaker B: Okay. It's a collection of stories. Some are horror type stories. None of them are too gory that teenagers shouldn't read.
They have little surprise endings in them and things usually don't turn out the way people were expecting that they would.
[00:26:45] Speaker A: And your socials for our listeners, please.
[00:26:48] Speaker B: On former Twitter, it is at Giamanco book on Facebook. I'm Caroline Giamanco, author. I have a fan page. Caroline Giamanco author fans and on Instagram. I'm at Caroline Giamanco.
[00:27:05] Speaker A: Excellent, folks. I will have bio as well as links to socials and the into the Night series below. Those will be affiliate links where appropriate, which we do earn a small commission. It's a great way to support this program if you were to purchase one. It does not cost any more to you. In the meantime, William Atkinson here with John Lemay, and we've had Caroline Giamanco on the phone for the program plot pit. Again, Caroline, thank you so much for joining us today.
[00:27:34] Speaker B: Thank you.
[00:27:35] Speaker A: You can catch us on our discord server and interact with our guests as well as myself and John, you can catch us on formerly known as Twitter, the platform now known as X, which still just doesn't feel right to sounds. I don't know, it just doesn't come out right.
Moving forward, you can catch us on Facebook as well as Instagram and we are on YouTube. All of our places are at Plot Pit. You can catch [email protected]
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for now, I do believe that's about it, John. Yeah. All right, folks, goodbye from Roswell.