This is a Halloween ghost story that may or may not be true. I’m not sure.
Since my post of a week ago and the coming of Halloween, I couldn’t get Eno English out of my head. After almost 60 years why did I remember his name?
A week ago, I wrote about this year’s Head of the Charles Regatta, and the beautiful clean water of the Charles River. This was in contrast to years ago when I was in ninth grade and the river was so dirty, we rowed past floating prophylactics and tin cans and even a floating pillow that turned over and was a dead body — later identified as Eno English.
It didn’t occur to me until last week, but I think I know where Eno might have come from.
I grew up in a little neighborhood called Coolidge Hill near the boat house and dock where Eno was found floating in the Charles. Coolidge Hill is located in between the Cambridge and Mount Auburn cemeteries and the little school I attended.
Mount Auburn cemetery was created in the 1831 to house the Cambridge aristocracy on 170 acres of high rolling land with little walks along majestic ponds surrounded by an impenetrably high black iron fence.
Mount Auburn Cemetery allowed no bikes or unsupervised children. I got my first bike, a fat wheeler, in middle school. I tried but could not get past the gate house on my bike, but I decided I would not be denied.
With my first bike I became an explorer. Like Columbus was determined to find the Orient, I decided I had to find a way into Mount Auburn Cemetery. I decided I would explore what I guessed might be the unguarded back fence near the Charles River.
Late one afternoon I left school and took my bike down past the boat house and proceeded upriver along the deserted overgrown roadless river bank for a quarter mile or so to find, much to my satisfaction, that there was some fence on the western boarder of the cemetery that had fallen with the eroding high bank. It must have given way with the rains and snow over the years and had slipped down onto a very small muddy plateau next to the Charles.
When I stopped to look I saw, to my surprise, a little path leading down to the river to the left, and several loose rolls of toilet paper hanging off a low bush. To my right I saw two small shacks that had been pulled together and hidden under several small scrub trees and underbrush up closer to the cemetery and the broken fence.
It must have been late fall, after Halloween I think, because it was getting dark early and it was a school night. I concluded that hobos must’ve lived here in the summer and had left because the weather was getting cold. There was no evidence of smoking fires or habitation.
As I laid down my bike and worked my way into the underbrush, I saw there were no windows in the two shacks and the doors had been left open. As I approached one shack I stepped on several bones that looked like they had been brought down with the erosion of the cemetery. I remember them as spongy, but I pushed on through the undergrowth because I could see through the open door what appeared to be girly magazines.
This lured me on because my only other alternative had been at the doctor’s office when I had to pretend to be interested in National Geographic. I pushed closer and closer to the open door.
The magazines were scattered all over the dirt floor and there was a pile of blankets over to the right. I carefully moved into the shack and knelt down to the magazines. The sun was going down. It was getting cold. I was alone. I had to get home but as long as there was light, I was going to see what this bounty held.
As I picked up one of the water-soaked magazines I was startled by an abrupt movement under the pile of blankets and a face stared back at me.
I bolted for the door and ran for my life to my bicycle. The man stood, reached for me and yelled. I ran as fast as I could, mounted my bike and peddled furiously until I could no longer hear his breathing.
The newspapers postured that Eno must’ve fallen into the river because his fly was open when he was fished out of the water.
That was almost 60 years ago.
My little bike ride along the Charles is paved now as Greenough Boulevard. It travels along the river’s edge and into new parking lots and developments along Arsenal Avenue and Watertown.
As far as I can tell there is no record of Eno English other than in my memory. He is a ghost that lives in my imagination and shelters in my brain and only came out with a random recollection a few days before Halloween.
Sort of spooky. Time for Eno to disappear again.