conviction © Laura Kicey
We whizzed past the above building- part of a cluster of at least four: a main house, a large shed, a garage and a tree house. All of these were covered with signs with handpainted words: VANDALISM ARSON ROBBERY MAIL FRAUD ROT SPRAYING POISON TREE ROT BUILDING COLLAPSE NO TRESPASSING TAKE PICTURES.
Dates, the names of people and police officers, threats, accusations, money rewards, history, purported events, offers, items for sale, and in large red letters on the back side of the green house PREMEDITATED MURDER next to GAS SPRAY.
So I happened to know someone from the area and this is what she told me about the house:
"Violet Hobaugh (who is now 90 years old) was a welder with, I believe, the Bethlehem Steel company. She gained her "fame" by taking on PennDot (that's the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation) because they wanted to remove a certain tree in order to expand and improve a very dangerous curve in Gravel Hill road.
While technically on her property, the tree was officially well within the State's Right of Way. She fought it because, she maintained, the tree protected her house from cars that veered off the road.
She built a tree house in it and lived there for over a year. They couldn't cut it while someone was living in it, and they couldn't forcibly remove her from it.
Her story was picked up and broadcast nationwide. Poor old lady in the tree.
The tree and the tree house are still there although she lives in her house. She has had no heat for the past 18 years and spends the winter bundled up with old newspaper bags over her shoes.
(info from various internet sources and Harrisburg Patriot News, 26 March, 2004. There was a full front page article with picture on that day)
She is a local hermit (ess?) who is off her meds. Probably schizophrenic, from the articles about her. The man named Sam Hoover [who she wrote notes to on the house in various spots] and his family used to try to take care of her, bringing her plates of food and helping her shovel snow or rake leaves.
Her mental illness got worse and worse until she began making accusations against the people who were trying to care for her. She calls Sam The Windman because she thinks he releases some kind of chemicals or germs into the wind and it is poisoning her.
I hope you used a telephoto, Lady Neue. I hear she's packin'."
sentence © Laura Kicey
We pulled into the driveway on Gravel Hill Road, just off Route 22 (as it is actually a very dangerous spot on the road), not knowing any of the story, and took some photos of the nearest buildings, the shed and the garage. I made a set of the photos here.