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Spooklight

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Published on: Jan. 2, 1997

Last revision: Oct. 26, 2010

west again where Oklahoma's E 40 Road begins. Or, if you jog south about .8 mile, you can go west on E 50 Road. Both of these east-west roads have been prime viewing spots. The hills in the region step down gradually from Hornet westward to Spring River in Oklahoma.

My father-in-law, Byron Mueller, laughs about his partial view of the light on E 40 Road, the place to see it around 1939. A friend had persuaded Byron to go on a double date and arranged a blind date for him. The night turned out to be too cool for anyone to ride in the roadster's rumble seat, and Byron's date turned out to be rather plump. With four people squashed into the seat inside the car, Byron could barely see down the road, but he glimpsed the approach of a washtub-sized light.

Karen Allen Morgan, Joplin, says her older sister Rita took her and their brother to that same road around 1944. Their outings required a cooler of pop and some popcorn, as there was usually a wait. Karen sat on the car fender and saw the light top a hill to the west, travel down through a valley and then uphill toward her. "I can remember probably three occasions when it actually came right by us," she says. "I would be terrified at that point and would dive into the window of the car. It was a goldish-red glow when it was close, and translucent."

Her sister Rita Livingston, rural Riverton, Kan., relates another adventure around 1950. After watching without success, she and her husband Robert discovered their car had a flat tire. "My husband took the tire off," she says, "and here comes the Spooklight, right up the road. It was about the height of the top of the car, coming like a big orange ball of fire. It was scary, spinning like a ball, revolving. The light came on up, went over the top of the car and on down the road behind us."

Until it closed in 1962, the general store in Hornet was a jumping-off place for Spooklighters. Proprietors Olivia Buzzard and her late husband O. W. "Bud" Buzzard gave out directions and sold the "Tri-State Spooklight" booklet. "We sent books everywhere, California, Chicago," Olivia recalls. "I've been on the bus down in Florida, and people have said to me, 'Oh, you live at the Hornet Spooklight' when

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