|I explain this picture later in the post.|
When it comes to The Exorcist and the real-life story that inspired it, we often think of the Washington D.C. area, and for good reason. It was there that the spiritual shenanigans started and there where the movie was filmed and took place.
But the climactic exorcism itself happened in St. Louis, Missouri. And in my casual tracking of all places Exorcist-related (like this and this and, as I already mentioned, this), I finally made it to the Lou a few months back…and it was anticlimactic.
Now that I’ve cut the legs out from under this article, let’s go.
I’m not going to get into all the nuances and details of the story here. Or stories, actually, depending on whether you believe the event an actual, documented demon possession or the go-for-broke actions of a troubled boy acting out. Although it’s way too funny that a really dedicated temper tantrum and demon squatting can have similar symptoms. However, here’s the more fun version of the two in a nutshell:
In the 1940s, 13-year-old Roland Doe (not his real name) developed a condition. Possibly due to a Ouija board he used or just because we are all pawns in an invisible spiritual battle, he had the devil on his back. He lived in Maryland, and when things got a little too demonic—flying furniture, injured priests, spooky sounds—and the local doctors couldn’t figure it out and local churches failed at exorcising it, the family took Roland to live with relatives in St. Louis. There, the power of Christ finally compelled the creature poking around Doe’s innards with its sharp horns to leave that kid alone.
So first on my agenda was the house where Roland lived. It’s in a suburb northwest of St. Louis called Bel Nor. The address is 8435 Roanoke Drive, halfway down a cul-de-sac in a nice residential area.
I didn’t get to scrutinize the house too closely. It has a big picture window on the first floor, and there was obvious activity inside. I’m assuming dinner activity, not paranormal. As a result, we satisfied ourselves with two quick drive-bys (hence the first pic in this post). There was no way I was going to stand in front of the house, get called out, and have to answer, “Because somebody once lived here who had a creamy demonic center that inspired a kick-ass movie and I’m a little obsessed with that chain of events.” I am comfortable telling you that, of course.
|Front of the hospital.|
Unfortunately, that building went the way of St. Francis Xavier’s rectory, and, like so many things in life, it’s now a parking lot.
No monument marks what went on in that space that is now divided into spaces, although the hospital does mention the event on the website as part of its legacy, and that makes me want to send them Christmas cards.
|Approximate site of the psychiatric ward.|
Once up a time, I thought The Exorcist presented the most accurate worldview I’d seen in a movie (Evil exists and must be dealt with). Since that time, I’ve changed to something more along the lines of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Evil exists and that sucks). Maybe Splash (Evil’s irrelevant when you have a half-Daryl Hannah, half fish in your life). Regardless, today, in 2014, I have a toy of a lacerated, rotting 12-year-old girl tied to a bed on my shelf (Motorized had spins 360 degrees! Authentic theme music plays!) all because of what went down in St. Louis 65 years ago.