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Over 57 years ago there was this weathered tin sign covered with a thick grainy coat of dull leaf-green paint. It was riveted onto two rusty wrought-iron beams that pierced the earth four feet apart and at a forty-five degree angle. It faced inward from the right-hand side of a lonely stretch of road. Kings Road at this western end was eerily darkened even in daylight by thick foliage, arched by twisted branches that reached across like elongated deformed fingers. They were entwined and intensely clutched at each other high above the middle of the road between two densely wooded flanks. This road once bled off old Route 22 near Lehigh County in northeastern Pennsylvania and today rolls down the western edge of the Tremont Public Housing Project. The sign, once rising to almost six feet, stood little more than five above ground by the mid-1940s. The relentless downward pull of gravity had gradually sucked its browned metal legs into the grimy rain-soaked mud of a hundred years of April torrents. It was embossed with thick reflector-white Highway Gothic letters—W E I R S K I N—spelling out the oddly discomfiting name of a rather tiny town this peculiar organic-tunnel road led into. The name on this sign was emblazoned with two more letters (not sanctioned by Weirskin City Planners, of course), a D and an S, smeared in crimson red paint to produce an even more curious word:
W i e r D s k i n S.
The sign and that particular section of road no longer exist. They were both washed away long ago by the Makittan River Flood of 1946.
Why W i e r D s k i n S ?
As for Weirskin’s first official town-outskirts sign, its defacement back in 1934 was believed by some to be the handiwork of vandals crudely referencing the unusual story of Pete Donegan, a local trapper who was said to have caught several unknown species of creatures possessing a thick scaly skin. He discovered their lifeless bodies from time to time in traps he set in Hackers Woods on the eastern side of that long departed section of Kings Road, less than a quarter mile from where the sign once stood. By 1931 it was rumored that Pete had skinned at least fifteen of the creatures and sold nearly all of the hides to Oslo Bender of Oslo’s Oddities, a travelling museum and the main attraction at Catz Carney’s Carnival. None of the hides were ever recovered and Pete himself was found dead less than a year later inside the Woods Hollow, torn to pieces by some savage animal. A bear, perhaps?
It was only William Preston Falk, Weirskin’s presiding mayor from 29’ to 34’, who suspected another motive behind the mutilation of the city’s sign: for him it was more a cruel joke referring to his own daughter’s tragic congenital disease, ichthyosis, marked by dry, thickened, scaly skin, a condition that sparked rumors among the simple-minded that Lucinda May Falk, the mayor’s wife, had “fornicated with a demon and gave birth to one of hell’s spawn.” Although her body was never recovered, Mrs. Falk was seen leaping from then Wochtaquoan Bridge into the icy waters of the Makittan in early November of 1934, only days before the mayoral election that ended in a landslide loss for the incumbent Falk against his lifelong rival Teddy Anders.
Whatever the reason for such wanton destruction of Weirskin City property, it is only Dr. Monroe A. Dunlop, Weirskin’s own parapsychologist laureate and Dean of Paranormal Studies at the now defunct Deusian Academy, who provides us with a more interesting, if not likely, answer to the question ‘Why W e i r D s k i n S ?’:
“The history of Weirskin is filled with eyewitness accounts of undoubtedly supernatural phenomena that cannot be easily explained away. These so-called urban legends are more than simply superstitious exaggerations of ordinary happenings; they may be thought of as more like fleshy layers of some strange truth about Weirskin, of some uncommon reality hidden beneath the ordinary surface of life visible to the common eye.”
[Monroe A. Dunlop, PhD. The Metaphysical Aspects of the Physical World, Weirskin, PA: AnomalyBooks, 1967]
These stories, then, are like 'weird' little 'skins' stripped away to reveal the hidden truth and deeper mystery about an odd little place called Weirskin, PA.
Scribbler, Doodler and Mystical Noodler...
Born and raised in PA, Ojo skipped across the U.S from PA to SC to TX to VA to AZ to NV to CA and finally found himself in quiet southern UT limbo. Ojo Blacke is currently working on a collection of darkly strange tales.