By Jonathan Qualtere
It all started with some ghost stories. Three friends and I shared spooky tales one night in a crowded, dim-lit bedroom in Saratoga, N.Y. We shivered at the usual myths — the gateway to hell in Troy, the haunted local asylum, the ghost of Horton Falls — until my friend Chelsea mentioned “Allentown.”
She told of the inbred Allen family, who violently bar access to their turf. A painted rock with a smiling face on one side and a frowning face with a tear on the other greets visitors when they reach the community's entrance. Even local police steer clear of the dead-end road.
We were creeped out but also intrigued, and knew we’d forever wear the brand of “pussies” if we didn’t go.
Just outside of Corinth lies Hollow Road in Hadley, N.Y. — the area’s official name, though most people refer to it as Allentown. The drive took 35 minutes from Saratoga.
When we arrived in Corinth close to midnight, the town appeared lifeless except for two skateboarders. We pulled up and casually asked them what they knew about Allentown. First their eyes bulged, and then one asked, “Ever seen the movie Wrong Turn?” The horror movie reference only fueled our desire. They warned us not to disturb the Allentownies, but we had to see the inbreds for ourselves.
The road turned dark and winding and the forest grew thicker the closer we came to Allentown. We lost cell phone reception as we drove past rundown auto shops and a lake shrouded in fog. Eventually, the monotone voice of my GPS told us to “turn right onto Hollow Road.”
As we rounded the bend, my palms felt clammy and cold. Chelsea let out a blood-curdling scream at first sight of the rock with the painted face on it.
We were in Allentown and about to empty our bowels.
We locked the doors and rolled up the windows before continuing down the dirt road. Our headlights broke through the thick haze, revealing a display of rundown trailers and wooden lean-tos draped with sheets for walls and not a single light in sight.
It almost felt too quiet, like someone was watching us. Our excitement quickly morphed into fear, so we turned tail out of the shanty town.
But before we made it back to Corinth, our racing pulses slowed and we convinced ourselves it wasn't so terrifying. After passing the painted rock again, we ventured further down the road. Call us wimps, but we didn’t make it past the first shack before the horror returned and compelled us to flee again. On our way out, we spotted a destroyed bike lying on the side of the road, and thought a souvenir would prove we at least possessed enough courage to visit. I pulled over and my friend Alex jumped out of the car.
As he struggled to open the trunk, a pair of headlights loomed out of the darkness. A beat-up truck came barreling down the road, headed right for us.
Alex darted back into his seat, and my foot slammed the gas pedal. The driver rode inches from my bumper as we pushed 60 mph through sharp, gravelled turns. Our screams subsided a few miles outside Allentown, when the mysterious truck turned and faded back past the frown-faced rock to the land of inbreds. We drove home in one piece.
*Photo taken with a cellphone. Poor light due to fear of inbreds.