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The U-Turn Man

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My husband and I recently made a trip back to our hometown of Denver, Colorado. It’s where we were both raised, where we met, where we fell in love…heck, even where we got married even though we were living in Phoenix at that time.

While we were back this time we spent a little time driving around checking out some of our old haunts. Both ones that meant something to us personally as well as a couple. We were staying in the Cherry Creek area, which made it really convenient for us to get to some of the places like Washington Park, Cheeseman Park, our old high schools, and it even took us past the site of one of the defining moments in our relationship: the U-Turn Man Incident.

NUT JOBS: EVERY TOWN HAS ONE

In case I’ve never mentioned it before, my husband and I are high school sweethearts. Or, rather, I was in high school. He was my hot college guy.

Anyway, even way back then ghosts and the macabre interested me. When Wayne introduced me to the U-Turn Man, a nut job who had a small house off Colorado Boulevard, a major road in Denver, I was fascinated.

I don’t know what his deal was, but he had “No U-Turn” signs posted everywhere. And I do mean EVERYWHERE! Swear to God there had to be 100 signs covering his yard.

Not only that, he had signs stating how offenders would be prosecuted…or something like that. Basically he made it clear that he’d take your picture and it was implied he’d send it to the cops. Whether he did or not, I don’t know.

All I know is the first time we drove past his house (slow, as it was my first time and I wanted to take in the sight of all the signs), he came out on his front stoop and watched us very carefully. When we circled the block (we didn’t dare make a U-Turn), he watched. And when we ended up doing another circle and heading onto Colorado Blvd (his house backed up against it), there he was leaning over the fence waiting to snap our pic when we drove past!

WEIRDO!

Which of course only interested me. I wanted to go in for a better look…

“HERE, KITTY, KITTY!”

One night when we were bored and had nothing else to do, somehow the U-Turn Man’s name came up. Next thing you know I said, “Let’s go by his house. You let me out at the top of the street and I’ll walk by and see what he does.”

What a brilliant idea! Just the sort of thing every 16 year old looking for trouble would want to do: go provoke the local nut job!

Mostly I was trying to show off for my boyfriend. I wanted him to think I was brave. Because brave is sexy, right? Even for girls?

I’ve still never proven my theory true. The second I came within a house of U-Turn Man’s compound I suddenly found myself staring into a huge bright spotlight. Not a flash light. The freak had an actual spotlight! Which nearly blinded me as I stood there only able to see his looming shadow behind it.

I think I may have mentioned before I have a healthy flight or fight instinct. Flight kicked into overdrive. I bolted past U-Turn Man (who was quite huge up close and personal. Like six two and 220. Not fat, but built.)

I made it to the end of the block and started frantically looking around for Wayne’s Bronco when all of a sudden I hear this motor racing at me. I turn and find U-Turn Man has hoped on a moped and is aimed straight at me!

That healthy instinct of mine kicked in again. I’m small (just over five feet), but my little legs turn into wheels when I’m freaked. I could shatter the Olympic record for a 50 yard dash when I’m in that mode. Needless to say I bolted to a house on the next block, and, realizing fast as I may be I’d never outrun the moped, I dove into some bushes.

From my cover I saw U-Turn Man scanning the area for me. He circled a few times, but then gave up and left. I waited a good 20 minutes to make sure he was gone before I came out.

Now the astute among you may be wondering, “Twenty minutes? Where was Wayne all that time?”

This is what I mean by defining moment. It signaled me to the fact that hot as my college guy might be, he was not the protector type. I get in a bind, I’m on my own. Good thing I have that healthy flight or fight instinct!

Not wanting a confrontation with the nut job dressed in fatigues and a face covered in camo paint (Wayne got a better look at U-Turn Man because he didn’t get the spotlight in the face as he drove by the freak on his moped), he simply pulled over a couple blocks away and waited.

He started getting concerned about the time I dared to come out of the bushes. That’s when he decided he better start looking for me and make sure I was okay.

In case he met up with U-Turn Man, he figured he better have a story. Looking for his lost cat was the first thing that came to mind.

I heard someone calling “Here, Kitty, Kitty.” I was crying because I didn’t know where Wayne was or how I’d find him. Worse, if I couldn’t I’d have to call my mom and ask her to come get me…I could just see me trying to explain it all. She would not have been impressed.

So I went to the sound of the voice hoping to ask the person for help.

I alternated between being glad to find it was Wayne and being mad he didn’t come to my rescue sooner.

“Hey, it was your bright idea to mess with U-Turn Man. You make your bed, you lie in it.”

So…there have been other local nut jobs we’ve come across, but U-Turn Man taught me several lessons. Most importantly, when thrill-seeking I can’t count on Wayne to bail me out of any messes I get myself into. That’s why I prefer ghost hunting. People are often much scarier!

Have you ever had an experience with your town’s resident nut job?

Courtney Mroch
Courtney Mroch, otherwise known as HJ's Ambassador of Dark and Paranormal Tourism, is an author, traveler, and ghost enthusiast. When she's not writing, jaunting, or planning her next trip, it's a safe bet you'll find her in one of three places: on a tennis court somewhere, on a yoga mat somewhere, or watching a horror movie somewhere. She currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.
http://www.courtneymroch.com

8 thoughts on “The U-Turn Man

  1. Love that story! Yeah, quite a few whack-jobs in my past. The neighborhood one was my favorite. An older man who lived on the corner of the elementary school playground. He had a wife who was very quiet and liked to garden. She went missing. Well, no one saw her for a few weeks. We all speculated. After all, her husband would scream at kids who walked across the edge of his lawn and shouted when they were on the playground (did he go to nasty school with the U-turn man???) Well, my buddy and I decided to become detectives like Charlie’s Angels (mid 70s). We staked out his house and watched him one damp chilly morning. He came out and lifted a big black trash bag over his shoulder. He looked around cautiously and picked up the shovel from his back stoop. He started off across the playground, past the school. We chased him cautiously and climbed up the windows of the school (our favorite hobby) to the rooftop of the small schoolhouse and crept to the other side to watch where he went. He stepped just inside of the woods.
    “A shovel?” I asked my friend. “A heavy black bag?” My friend responded. We were practically hyperventilating with excitement. He was burying his wife. We talked about who should call the police and who should stay with the body. We shivered as we watched him come back out with the dirty shovel and muddy shoes. Once we rushed to the other side of the roof to watch him make it back to his yard and out of sight, we snuck down the windows and rushed into the woods. We followed the place he’d entered and exited between two honey locust trees and found it! The ground was soft from recent rains and where he’d dug was obvious. The only place with no moss on the ground! We went to our knees, breathing hard as we dug at the ground with our hands. My fingers grasped the edge of the black plastic and we sobbed. We kind of hoped we wouldn’t find it. “Why would he go to the woods to bury a bag?” My friend asked. I shook my head briskly, held my breath, and pulled the bag out. I gasped when I felt something oozing onto my hands. I dropped it and it went “clunk.” When I braved looking at my wet hands, I found something black and oozy. Puzzled, I opened the bag with one yank and found cans of motor oil. It ended my detective career and almost disappointed us when on the way back home we passed by “his” house and his wife was in her garden working again. “I don’t know if it was better that she was dead and free from him or that she’s alive and still has to live with him.” My friend cracked.

  2. HAHAHAHAHAHA!! LMAO! Holy crud, that’s too funny. Thanks so much for sharing this. OIL???? Oh man, what a let down. And makes it even better his wife was in the garden when you guys walked back past his house…GREAT STORY! And good to know I wasn’t the only one influenced by TV shows. (Thanks to Charlie’s Angels and Wonder Woman, Nancy Drew…probably even Fantasy Island…I was always on the lookout for some mystery to solve too or intrigue to get snarled up in!) When I wasn’t trying to prove how brave I was that is…

  3. I was just telling my 14yr old son about Stan the U-Turn Man as he was keeling over laughing at how we used to invoke the camo man to come out with his spotlight and take our picture threatening us that we are going to have our pictures down posted at the Capitol. We would hid as well and try to take his picture then run and hide in the bushes until someone would come get us. This routine was a ritual for high-school sports initiation, now called hazing, but it was so much fun. I actually did share with my parents what we had done, and what do you know, my Dad wanted to go see what the fuss was all about and with my friend and parents in the car we committed an “illegal” U-Turn. It was priceless to see my Dad’s face light up with adrenalin and my Mom freaking out. I then went onto college and wrote my first paper in English 101 on this experience only to have my teacher call me in outside of class to ask me if I knew a particular student. When I told her that I did not know this girl, she got very confused and shared with me that the other student wrote a very similar story about the same man but did not have the same name for him. She actually thought we wrote our made up story together thinking we would not get caught having the same teacher??? Well, tonight, my son brought up his name so when I Googled him, your site came up and as I read it aloud to my kids, they were cracking up with the similarities. I always wondered what the heck happened to Stan and used to think that he was either super crazy from Vietnam effects or he was so lonely, he actually enjoyed the company???

    Thank you for brining up some great memories!! DeeDee

  4. OMG! I love that you found this and knew about it and took the time to write and share your experience with him! I really got a kick out of the fact your dad wanted to go check him out and his reaction. LOL I never knew his name was Stan. (Was it? Or was that something you and your friends called him?) And the paper….where did you go to college? What a crack up! I wish I had thought to write for him for any of my papers. I didn’t think about it until I started blogging. And I really liked your second to the last sentence wondering if he was so screwed up from Vietnam or just lonely that made him act like he did. I always just assumed Vietnam but…maybe he did get a kick out of acting so crazy and drawing so many people by. I’m thinking his weekends were never lonely. 😉 Thanks so much for sharing your memories of him.

  5. I grew up in Denver too. We heard rumors of the U – turn Man my senior year so we decided to check it out on prom night. We had 6 people in a limo and we asked our driver to take us past his house and do a u-turn. The limo driver didn’t believe us until a man with a light and a camera came running at the car. The limo driver screamed and took off. We were all freaked out and never performed another u-turn in front of his house again.

    The rumor I heard was he had a young child who was run over by someone doing a u-turn in front of his house. As a result he had a sign posted in front of his house. I only remember one legitimate u-turn sign posted in front of his house in 1987.

  6. OMG, Mike!!!! I’ve never met anyone with a similar story. I never heard the rumor about him having a child who was run over but it makes sense. I heard he was a Vietnam vet with PTSD that made him all wonky. But I could never understand why that would make him so nuts about U-turns. The rumor you shared makes a lot more sense! Thx for sharing your story.

  7. I also grew up in Denver – went to Mullen in the mid-80s. We visited the U-Turn man many times. We would drive by his house slowly, yelling “come out come out wherever you are” and make u-turn (whipping a titty as we called it for unexplainable reasons). Invariably, he would leap from his bushes with a camera that used the type of flash bulbs that would fire once and then burn out – and start firing off snapshots. We would be laughing so hard I’m amazed we didn’t drive off the road. Not one of my proudest moments in hind-site, but one of our party once hosed him down with a fire extinguisher when he leaped from the bushes. I also heard the rumor that his child had been run over by someone making a u-turn. I also remember that friends from different schools had different names for him. I seem to recall my friends from Cherry Creek called him the “spiderman.”

  8. You guys still laugh at this as adults? Teenagers aren’t mature enough to realize this isn’t funny. This guy has extreme paranoia (based on the child and ptsd) and it sounds like it has crippled him. It’s like a dog that barks at everything, but this is a human being. You guys are straight up mean if you think it’s funny nowadays. Have compassion.

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