There are unique local legends and myths all around the world. Each story is born in a different way…and each origin is so interesting. Like a game of telephone spanning many generations, the actual facts and people get skewed, twisted and merged together with other stories. Each generation picks up on a different hook of the legend and expands that to fit the narrative of their times. The ending result is something totally different than the original intent of the tale.
Take Pittsburgh’s legend of the Green Man for instance. The same story that parents used to scare their into staying inside at night is actually pretty sweet when you learn what really happened.
Outside of Pittsburgh there is an abandoned railroad tunnel. Teenagers drive in there with the lights off, park and call out to the “Green Man”. If your car can’t restart the Green Man has claimed you as his victim.
They say the Green Man was once an employer of a power company, but a freak accident caused his face to be disfigured. His skin turned green. He obtained electrifying powers that can short out devices and scorch people’s skin just like him. They say he still walks the night, looking victims he can inflict his jealous rage onto.
The Real Story.
In 1918 a boy named Raymond Robinson was climbing on a train track bridge when a power line of 22,000 volts shocked him, leaving his face without eyes, a nose, one ear and his body without an arm.
But Raymond was hardly nasty about it. Although the blind man rarely went out during the day, at night would take exceptionally long walks with a cane down State Route 351. He was happy to engage with travelers who weren’t appalled by his appearance, often sharing a conversation over a beer or cigarette. Those who spoke to him said he was a quiet, but pleasant man.
Charlie No Face.
As the popularity of Raymond grew, it became a past time of young Pennsylvanians to drive down that particular stretch of 351 to catch a glimpse or even talk to Charlie No Face, as people from other towns began calling him. In the 60’s his legend would cause nightly traffic jams on the road.
The Man Died But The Legend Lived On.
Ray continued his walks until the twilight years of his life and died in 1985. His story had spread so far that the fantasy had begun to carve a life outside of the man, and continued after his death. The name Raymond Robinson might be lost on most Pennsylvanians, Charlie No Face as well, but everyone has heard of the Green Man.
Apparently this ‘Green Man’ has been popularized in that part of the country so much that it has bled into Ohio, where they tell a story of a similarly green and disfigured man who once used to be.