[De Groote] Devil Worshipers of the Mid-'90s

Troy's "Big Mini" was our favorite means of conveyance on many high school adventures back in the mid- '90s. We drove that Ford minivan through absolute hell and back, and it bore the scars and peeling paint as proof of our youthful driving escapades. I wasn't around for the incident that secured the doors in a permanent, firmly shut position, but it was a perfect vehicle for the fledgling driver.

We drove the Big Mini on Saturday night adventures to scenic areas in and around Jackson. There was not much trouble we could get into, so as dutiful teenagers, we had to go out and make it. You can ask Mama; I was pretty good in that department. We were young, exploring our town as well as our inner landscapes, running right up to the edge of the precipice and halting at the last possible moment before falling headlong into the maw of the law. We took some risks, but always with our seat belts fastened and our hearts beating rapidly.

On one such adventure, Troy and Tammy converged at my house on McDowell Road to discuss our plans for the evening. It was late March, spring fever was in our veins, and we sought out the POW Camp in Clinton for a bit of mystery. I had been to the camp before, but only during the day and thought that a night venture would make for an extra creepy installment on our list of adventures. The abandoned building was a three-story concrete beast with shattered windows and graffiti pentagrams; it was a virtual playground for a teenager. After the curfew time had been discussed (argued), we set out.

We pulled into the front entrance and followed the road to the camp, unloaded, giggled and started out on foot. There was a gate, but it was open, so we figured there wasn't a problem with trespassing. Night had fallen, and none of us had the foresight to bring a flashlight, so we locked arms and stayed close so that we could protect each other from the ghosts that surely lurked in the shadows. False alarms were set, and "Don't do that!" rang out more than once as we laughed and fumbled our way to the overgrown building.

As we got closer, we noticed some orange light shooting out of the broken windows. This came as a surprise: There were others out here. We ran from behind one tree to the next, peeking around so as to not be detected. We decided to crouch down in the weeds and get a closer look.

Finally, the three of us were close enough to see the dark shadows moving quickly around the fire that was in the middle of the room. How many were there? Who were they? What were they? We whispered and seriously started to worry that if we were found, we would become sacrificial virgins to these cloaked devil worshippers.

Tammy said her cousin's ex-girlfriend had found the severed head of a German shepherd and a used condom on the second story last summer. God knows what they were doing in there! We had to know!

We started to circle the perimeter when a loud explosion shook us into a panic that sent us fleeing for our lives. My Adidas could not carry me fast enough away from the burning hell of the camp. My heart raced as we came to a fence and huddled together to gather our wits. "That sounded like a gunshot!" Troy guessed. "All I know is that we have to get the hell out of here, and I am not going past that building again."

Our only option was to scale the chain-link fence that was, of course, topped with barbed wire. Troy went first, made it over, then dropped to the ground with a splash. "Ow! I think I sprained my ankle!" he yelped from the ditch. Tammy and I looked at each other with wide eyes. I began my ascent, knowing there was cold water on the other side. I swung my leg over and avoided it. I checked on Troy while Tammy joined us in the safe side of the ninth circle of hell. We got on either side of Troy and helped his muddied, mangled body along the set of railroad tracks that followed the fence line back to the entrance of the Waterways. Neighborhood dogs barked and threatened to give chase as we hobbled along, grateful that we had escaped the satanic ritual.

It took three forevers before we caught sight of the Big Mini. We all piled in the one working door and started on our way back to Jackson. It was past our curfew already, and we tried to assemble our explanation as to why we were late and why Troy was covered with mud with a sprained ankle. The truth was the only thing we could come up with. We would have to face our parents and tell them we were chased by devil worshippers.

The next morning, Mama came into my room smiling with the newspaper. The Civil War re-enactment last night at the POW Camp in Clinton had prepared the actors with their needed experience in detonating antique firearms. I laughed out loud, but decided that only Tammy and Troy needed to know the real truth about what happened Saturday night at the POW Camp.

Previous Comments


Most adventurers behind the unlocked gate don't realise that the abandoned Concrete Research Laboratory there wasn't actually built until the POW's were gone in 1946. But the massive structure with many small meat locker like holds and all the graffiti make for interesting stories. Back in the early 90s when the Atlanta based White Wolf Publishing first came out with their "Vampire" live action role playing game that was where we would gather to act out our Dungeons & Dragons style game play. Anywhere from 70 to 300 of us would decend on the abandoned building, clean up all the loose rubble, make it relatively safe for walking about on the upper floors in the dark & decorate it by day and come dressed as our characters at night. Rather than a table top imagination game like D&D you would interact and act out in a sort of improv play, where vampires exist in current times. The game company sets the rules and organizational elements, and we become those characters when we entered the area. So what no doubt left many outsiders to believe that devil worship was huge there at the old POW camp I bet much of those rumors had to do with our really large group. On the rare occasion that an outsider came upon our group they always left in hurry at the site of us from 1,000 yards. Some 300, early 20 year olds dressed like all manner of vampires. It was like the biggest Goth fest you've ever seen in New Orleans. But alias, it was all good harmless fun, very organized socializing in the ideal setting. Like the tressel in Belhaven at the Waterworks Plant, before it was fenced. Or some new culd-a-sac paved street before the neighborhood was there, where the kids would hang out. Just a little anti-establishment teenage angst looking for a place to call their own for a short time.


Love the POW camp. Didn't know the history until I stumbled upon it on a ride around the countryside one weekend. Told my parents about this "cool place" I'd found and they told me of its history. After learning the story, I visited many times and it felt far less cool but still full of WOW. Thought I was the only person I knew that had been there... Another thread we share, J. And, what? No mention of Thunder Chicken? ;-)



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