I read poems. I went to the Nashville Room. I finished The Haunting of Hill House, which is so good. Now I’m listening to it thunder and hoping it starts to rain.
So, my trip to the Nashville Room. It started not so great. Weirdly, even though I have been to the Nashville Room at the Downtown Library before, I couldn’t get there today. Usually, if I’ve been somewhere, that’s enough to assure myself that I can get there again. But I was having none of it. The steps from downstairs come up on either side of the entrance to the gallery that looks down onto the main floor. I couldn’t get across the stairway.
Happily, a librarian was kind enough to take me the back way and I didn’t have a public melt-down, just a tiny private one. So, that kind of sucked, but I was proud of myself for dealing with it.
But, in the Nashville Room, they had two articles on Ben Allen–Margaret Lindsley Warden’s 1951 pieces and a later one that basically just rehashed her piece and included some pictures of some items Ben designed for the Masons.
So, basically, to make sense of Ben’s non-haunted life, pretty much all you need to know is that he was a Mason. So, his road is where it is because before that stuff at the end of it was whatever it is now, it was the old Tuberculous Hospital and before that, Warden says, it was the old Masonic Widow and Orphan’s Home. I don’t really understand how the Masons are organized, but apparently, before Ben Allen helped organize a Nashville-based lodge, even though there were lodges here, they were… I don’t know… governed by Memphis I think. (Obviously, this is not from the article, but from a confusing website I read the other day). Anyway, he was a huge Mason. He loved them and they still love him.
On the supernatural side, though, damn. First let me say that Mason is a hell of a writer. Just sitting at the table reading her article, I about died of jealousy and how well she captured what went on in the house and how sad she made me that I was not around to see it. Allen’s whole house was filled with mysterious crap of which he was a great collector. Supposedly, he had a statue of Buddha with a great uncut diamond in his forehead that he got under mysterious circumstances. And he could hypnotize people, often helping doctors and dentists with patients who couldn’t be anesthetized. He made jewelry and apparently the guy who helped him would wake up in the middle of the night just knowing when Allen needed him and off he’d go to the house.
Sue Allen was a medium herself. Warden’s article puts a lot of emphasis on Ben being the supernatural one, but then says Sue would often do seances when Ben wasn’t home. And Sue was a Civil War widow, older than Ben. Her dad was named Powhatan Perkins. And his mom was an Edminston, from which we get Edmundson Pike on the south side. I still feel like she’s probably buried down there (the Allen fortune didn’t weather the Depression very well, so I think they probably just stuck her in a cemetery they had), but where she is, I don’t know.
Even cooler is that they had a picture of the house at 125 8th Avenue South, a red brick Italianate that may have had a porch before it fell into disrepair.
I just could not be more tickled.