Dread comes with darkness. Bar your doors and windows, and keep out the evil spirits. That’s what people say. I hide under my blankets, but Mama says they won’t keep me safe. I’m not even safe in her arms. That’s why the mare took baby Bert when he was sleeping, and the blacksmith’s wife. You never know when she might come, but Mama says no night is safe.
Back in 1949 or 1950 when I was six or seven, my grandfather took me on my first trip on ‘the Slave Road,’ ‘the Hidden Highway,’ ‘the Nigger Byway,’ ‘the Devil’s Footpath,’ or ‘the River Styx Trail.’ All these names and more for a narrow, dark path, a little over a half-mile long, that saved almost a mile and a half between our farm and Corn Row Road. The “Row” was a dirt road, where our black friends and relatives lived.