Friday, November 1, 2013

Tall Tarantula Tales of Tucumcari

From wikipedia. Artwork by: Reynold Brown

A few weeks ago, while I sat on a comfortable, raggedy couch at the Lupus General Store, in between sets at the Lupus Chili Fest, I struck up a conversation with a gentleman sitting nearby. Although he lives in central Missouri, it turns out he's originally from Tucumcari, New Mexico. .... where I'd just been before I left New Mexico, and where I saw all of those tarantulas crossing the road.

And he told me a story.

It began, "You're not going to believe this, but .."

His daddy, a farmer in those parts, told him about the time in 1955 or thereabouts, when they had to close the highway for several hours because there were so many tarantulas crossing the road one day. There were so many tarantulas on the move that the road was slick with the blood and guts of those that had been run over by the vehicular traffic, that it was treacherous to drive.

From Route 66 News, here's this 2009 account:
Mike Callens at TeePee Curios in nearby Tucumcari said that after the first frost, usually in October, the old road becomes nearly covered with tarantulas migrating. At that time, tarantulas are looking for a place to hibernate for the winter.

My new friend said he'd tried to find verification of his daddy's story, but hadn't been successful, and neither have I, yet. But based on how many tarantulas I saw within a few miles during my recent sightings, I could only imagine how many of the spiders had been crawling in the vicinity, that I didn't see.

And here's a story from cryptomundo about only one spider, but it was a giant one - in Louisiana, my new future home:

One cool night in 1948, in Leesville, Louisiana, 48-year-old William Slaydon walked his wife, Pearl, and his three grandsons to church. Among them was the youngest, Richard Partain, a child of six at the time. They walked north along Highway 171, and as the road began to dip, Grandpa Slaydon suddenly stopped his grandchildren with a gesture and had them step back quietly and freeze.
The grandchildren, aged six to thirteen, knew instinctively to obey this gesture without question. There was a rustling from the ditch, and an unbelievable creature emerged from the darkness. 
Richard Partain described: “It was a huge spider, the size of a washtub. It was hairy and black. No one, not even my grandmother, said a word.”

As they watched, the giant arachnid crossed the asphalt from East to West, and disappeared into the brush on the opposite side of the highway.

“We asked Grandpa what it was, and he said simply that it was a very large spider.”
Afterwards, all nighttime walks by the family to the church were cancelled. The incident was never discussed again with the grandchildren.

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