A Shunned House
in the way of HP Lovecraft
The ironic thing is that Stephen King must have passed by Allendale a hundred times in the late 70s. It’s a well-known, but little-repeated bit of gossip around Gallatin, Tennessee, that, in those days, he was rich enough to afford to have his own strain of marijuana grown in his precisely preferred soil and light conditions. Like later connoisseurs of high-end coffee, artisanal chocolates, or hand-crafted beers, King had definite and persnickety ideas about what circumstances occasioned the best weed.
It turned out the best pot, in King’s opinion, grew on a hill overlooking a particular bend in the Cumberland River, back behind a rotting shed on a farm closer to the old lock than you’d think a man trying to avoid the attention of authorities would be comfortable with. Perhaps there were enough stills in operation out there that there was some kind of mutually-assured-destruction agreement in place. If no on narced on the moonshine, no one was going to narc on the creepy Yankee and his wacky tobaccy.
I won’t mention the name of the farmer who supplied King, but that small plot, just ten plants, and King’s willingness to pay to have his needs met, put that farmer’s three children through college—the two of whom everyone thought would amount to something went to Vanderbilt and the one without a lick of sense went to UT. Perhaps the UT graduate had been underestimated, since he’s now a wealthy auto executive, but when the other two siblings are doctors, how can that not be slightly disappointing? It’s like the Frists, having to accept that Bill would go into politics.
Back then, there were only a few houses along Peach Valley Road and so King would often park his rental car right at the bottom of the rise Allendale—my ancestral home—sits at the top of and walk into the farmland of his “friend.” Whether he looked up into the unkempt yard or even noticed the slightly dilapidated old farmhouse with the stone chimneys at either end? He seems to have never written or spoken of it, and yet, for the three of us who know its true nature, Allendale equals or outranks in horror the wildest fantasy of the genius who so often passed it unknowingly.