This Sunday is American author Harper Lee’s 87th birthday. While she may not be a household name to most, her first and only published work is one of the most significant and widely read novels of the 20th Century: To Kill a Mockingbird.
Harper Lee published the novel in 1960 and while it quickly rose to the top of bestseller lists and became part of most High School Literature curriculums, the 1962 film adaptation with legendary actor Gregory Peck quickly elevated it to a cultural iconic status. For those who have read or watched this film set in a fictional Alabama town during the Depression, you know that the community and the homes within it play a huge role in propelling the story forward and capturing the innocence of childhood.
One of the story lines that resonate most with people is how afraid the children in the neighborhood are of the ‘Radley House’. The children congregate during warm summer nights and hide behind trees as they pass on made up stories about the crazy man Boo Radley who lived in the rickety home across the street. It was said the mere mention of the phantom who lived there would be enough to make the kids behave for days on end!
“The house was low, was once white with a deep front porch and green shutters, but had long ago darkened to the color of the slate-gray yard around it. Rain-rotted shingles drooped over the eaves of the veranda; oak trees kept the sun away. The remains of a picket drunkenly guarded the front “swept” yard that was never swept-where johnson grass and rabbit-tobacco grew in abundance.” – Harper Lee from To Kill a Mockingbird
If we all think back to when we were children running around our neighborhoods, I’m pretty sure we’d all be able to recall a home similar to the ‘Radley House’ that scared the living daylights out of every kid in town! I remember in my hometown of Jersey City, there was a boarded up old farm home that was built back in the 1700s that always had cats coming out of the spaces between the boards. My friends and I would trade horrifying stories of what could be behind those walls and some of us (not me!) would work up the nerve to run up to the porch to take a peak in, only to run faster than Usain Bolt as soon as they got close to the front door.
What are you stories of homes in your neighborhoods that scared you as a kid? Were they as scary as the ‘Radley House’ in To Kill a Mockingbird? Let us know in the comments!
*The Second and Sixth Images are Courtesy of: Retro Web
*The Third and Fifth Images are Courtesy of: Any Clip
*The Fourth Image is Courtesy of: Martha Hackmann
*The Final Image is Courtesy of: Movie Maniac