My Black Babysitter And The Red Eyed Man

From shortly after I was born to when I was five years old, my family lived in an old, large, two-story house on the Indian River in Edgewater, Florida.  This house was unusual in that it was one of the first houses built in this area, which in the 1970s, was still not completely developed.

The person who built this house back in the early 1900s had their pick of the best home sites, and he picked a location on one of the highest bluffs overlooking the Indian River, not just because of the view, or that he planned on doing some farming and this was not low swamp land, but because this home site would not flood during a hurricane.

In the early 1900s, there was probably an awareness that the reason why this particular spot was so high, was because the Native Americans in this region had used it as a burial ground for hundreds of years, what the local people referred to as a “burial midden”.  These burial middens contained hundreds of thousands of oyster shells and clam shells that had been discarded daily by the Native Americans living along the Indian River, for hundreds of years.  But these burial middens also contained human remains.

These high bluffs and high mounds covered with old oak trees along the Indian River were too good a home site for people to not pick these spots to build their home.  Although later some residents would be woken up at night by ghosts and apparitions of Native Americans standing there looking at them, unhappy about their burial site being disturbed.

The person who built the house where we lived was very energetic and dedicated in planting the largest variety of trees, fruit trees, bushes, hedges, ferns, and flowers that I have ever seen to this day, some of these plants I would have to look up to tell you what they were.

There was one large magnolia tree in the front yard beside the long driveway coming up the hill, a handful of different kinds of large palm type plants with very large long pointed ends, a lugustrum hedge around the house, a large very dense grove of a variety of bamboo trees in the west yard surrounding a small guest cottage, Boston fern and elephant ear plants on the back side of the house, rows of hibiscus flowers, and then several large mulberry trees, several kumquat trees, then rows of tangerine trees, naval orange trees, regular orange trees, grapefruit trees, and grape vines along the back wire fence.

By the time that my family lived there, all of the trees, shrubs, bamboo, flowers, ferns, elephant ears, mulberry trees, orange trees, and grapefruit trees had long ago reached maturity, and everything was now overgrown, and somewhat growing into each other, like a tropical forest or an abandoned plantation.  The old house was not in the best of condition either.

My mother was not into cleaning, and the house was not clean, it was a mess.  It was very common in the 1970s in small towns in Florida to hire a Black woman as a maid, though this practice was on its way out.  My mother and father set out to hire a Black maid.

In most of the small towns in Florida in the 1970s, the towns were separated into White Town, and Colored Town, by the railroad tracks.  No Blacks lived in White Town, but some Blacks worked in White Town.  You had to go through an intermediary or intercessor of sorts in order to get Black people as hired help, because the two cultures lived somewhat apart at the time, they were not inter mixed or inter meshed.

Somehow, the Black woman that was sent for the position of maid at our house, turned out to be “Lucy”.  Lucy was a large lady, but she was very old.  She was just about too old and arthritic to be able to work anymore as a maid, but she was sent to our house anyway.  I remember that Lucy did not like the looks of the condition of the inside of our house, it was unkempt and dirty in just about every way.

I remember only a little Lucy doing cleaning like vacuuming or mopping the floors.  It seemed like before long her primary job became to babysit me, which she was contented in doing because she was old, arthritic, and never had any children of her own.

Lucy ended up working for my family for about eight years, until she died.  The time that she worked for my family, was a lifetime to me, because she came into our home when I was about three years old.

Lucy had been married about six or seven times, and every time her husband had died somehow.  The first time that she was married, she was about twelve or thirteen.  She didn’t really know exactly how old she was, she could have been as old as ninety.  Even if she was in her eighties, she would have been born in the late 1800s.

Lucy had had a very hard life.  The South was certainly segregated in the 1890s through the 1960s, though many forms of segregation continued through the 1970s in small towns.  The older Blacks in the South had their own separate culture and society, that was completely apart from White people.

As a small child, Lucy would take me around with her in her car, in Colored Town, and I will explain a little about the differences.  Black people would just about always stop in the middle of the road when passing another Black person, to gossip and socialize.  They all had different names for each other that they went by such as “Big Apple”, who was an older Black lady that was from New York City, the “Big Apple”.  And, they spoke a different language.

Some Black phrases that I can remember are, “…I ain’t studying that…”, which meant “…I wasn’t going along with that…”, or “…Awe, shuck it now!…”, which meant “…Oh, come on now!…”  There was a lot of “…Oooh Lawd have mercyyy!…Chile, I ain’t studying that…Awe, shuck it now!”

Keeping in mind that Lucy was born in the 1890s, way before electricity was brought into poor areas of the South, before the first Model T Fords were invented, before anyone had telephones, back when White people rode on horses or in wagons, and Black people walked everywhere, often in the dark, Black people were very fearful.  Black people were fearful when they had to walk long distances through forests and swamps in the pitch black dark, not knowing what wild animals, creatures, spirits, spooks, and haints were going to try to get them.

Lucy told me many stories about the “Red Eyed Man” of whom she was most fearful.  Though I remember many stories that Lucy had told me about the “Red Eyed Man”, it wasn’t until a few days ago, forty-five years later, that I knew what she was talking about.  Oh no, I thought, she was talking about a real thing, but me, my parents, and my sister never knew.

After listening to many, many stories recently on YouTube channels such as “Dixie Cryptid” or “PacWest Bigfoot” where listeners submit their own Bigfoot encounter stories, they often talk about the red reflective glare from the eyes of Bigfoot at night.  It wasn’t until I was listening to “Dixie Cryptid” stories of Bigfoot from Mississippi, that I realized what the “Red Eyed Man” was that Lucy kept talking about, and was so scared of.

Here is one of Lucy’s stories about the Red Eyed Man that I can remember pretty clearly:

There was this lady friend of mine in Georgia, that wanted to go fishing.  She knew a place that she wanted to go, and we drove there just before it got dark.  We drove over a bridge, and she said to me, “You go fish along that side of the river, and I will walk down here and fish on this side of the river.”

I looked on that side of the river, and there were trees all along that side of the river.  I got my lantern, and my cane pole, and I crossed over the bridge, and I could see that lady walking way, way down the other side of the river.

I began walking down the other side of the river, and it was getting dark.  I got to a spot where I wanted to fish and I sat down and put my line out.  But I could feel that something was watching me, watching me from those trees.  I was getting scared, and I didn’t want to fish no more, and I wish that that lady would come on, but I didn’t see her coming.

I lit my lantern, and I could see that Red Eyed Man looking at me from the trees.  I thought to myself, “Oh Lord have mercy!!!  Get me on outa here!!!”  So I picked up my pole, and I picked up my lantern, and I started walking back along the river bank, and I could see that Red Eyed Man following along with me in the trees.

Just before I got to the bridge, there was this great big tall thin green tree, but it was green, and all of a sudden that tree came down, making a sound like “Ooooooo, wham!”  But that tree was green!

Oh, I nearly had a hard attack, and I said, “Oh Lord God, please, please, let me get over this tree.”  And I stepped over the tree slowly and carefully, and I crossed over that bridge, and I got back in that car, and I lock all the doors, and I said, “Oh please let that lady come on, I want to get outta here!”

One of the reasons why I remembered this story as having more significance now, was Lucy had emphasized to me many times, that just before she got to the bridge, there was this big tall thin green tree that came down right in front of her.  She was emphasizing to me that it was green, meaning that it was not old brown and rotten.

The part of Lucy’s story about the big tall thin green tree coming down right in front of her, and the Red Eyed Man following her, at the time made Lucy’s story seem implausible to me, though it was scary.

If you read or listen to many, many Bigfoot encounter stories, not only do Bigfoot have a very bright red eye shine, they often push over large healthy green trees to frighten and warn people away.

Also, Lucy was always frightened of the Red Eyed Man being up in the trees, that this is where he liked to be.  In reading and listening to many Bigfoot encounters in swampy areas or areas beside rivers, Bigfoot do like to get up in trees in these areas.

I hadn’t known or realized that all these stories that Lucy was telling me about the Red Eyed Man, were actually about Bigfoot, and that they probably did occur.

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