Vol. 11


The Mysterious Man Who Lived in the Pipe

c. 1960s–1970s; East Petersburg, Pennsylvania, USA"The Mysterious Man Who Lived in the Pipe" illustration: A bearded, tattered-clothed man stares into a house window.

When I was a child, my brother Mike and I lived near a railroad underpass. Sometimes Mike and I would play in the large pipe that went under the train tracks. One day in the fall we entered the pipe and found a wood fire that was still warm, some cans of food, bottles of drink, and some old clothing. It looked as if someone (or something) was living in the underpass. We were afraid but curious.

Later that night, when our parents were asleep, we snuck out of the house and crept along the road to the pipe. A strange glow came from the end of the tunnel. We peered inside and saw the silhouette of a figure against the light of the fire. He was dressed in shabby clothes, had a long beard, and was very disheveled. Mike accidentally kicked a stone. It skittered down the embankment, and made a loud racket in the still of the night. I told Mike to run for it.

The figure turned, looked in our direction, stood, and yelled, “Who’s there?” in a growly voice.

We turned and fled home, frightened — but we laughed as we ran. Mike said that the figure looked like he had just come out of a cage of angry wolves.

The next morning Mom left us at home when she went to the store. A short time later there came a knock on our front door. We peered out a side window and saw standing there the mysterious man from the underpass. There was a large knife in his belt. He turned in our direction, and we quickly ducked out of sight.

He continued banging on the door, but we didn’t answer. Instead we hid in our bedroom and waited for Mom to return home. Eventually the knocking stopped.

Some time later we peeked out the back window and saw the man on his knees in our yard using his knife to cut dandelions, which he carefully placed in a shoulder bag. I had no idea what he was doing. When he had cut all the dandelions, he got up and slowly walked away.

When my dad told me this story when I was very young, it made me think that some people can be good and some can be bad.

Julian L. Prakken; Missouri, USA

Illustrator: Hayden Fowle; Missouri, USA



This copyrighted story may be copied and/or printed for limited classroom or personal use. To reprint this story and/or illustration in an article about The Grannie Annie, please contact The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration for permission.


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