Alongside the New River near Fayetteville an old picnic table is rotting, becoming overgrown with moss and weeds. You can barely still see it, even if you wanted to. Even if you wanted to enjoy an outdoor meal with your family on a fine August day. You might have kids with you, who’d be laughing and playing, goofing around by the river. You’d feel all was right with the world on such a fine day. That is until you looked around and saw what Abe and Mildred Patterson saw…
The Patterson family were making their way on what is now Route 19 to visit Aunt Letty when they decided to take a detour and give the kids a view of the New River. Little Emily was around three years old at that time and her brother John had just turned 10. He was very protective of her and used to let her ride around on his shoulders so she could get a “birds-eye view of things” which is ironic, as you’ll soon see.
Mr. and Mrs. Patterson were unpacking a picnic lunch they’d brought along. Fortunately, they spotted a lovely picnic table made of colored stones alongside the river. They were laying out the spread when all of the sudden they heard loud shrieks coming from Emily. John was stuck halfway in the car trying to dig out a ball to play catch with. They turned in time to see an incredibly large crow attacking Emily who was helpless to defend herself against such a large and fierce bird. She was trying to run and so kept getting further and further into the brush, away from anyone who could help her. By the time her father caught up with her she’d lost both her eyes. Two weeks later she died of a strange infection.
Brother John never forgave himself for not watching over her more carefully. He’d return to that picnic table for years after trying to figure it all out. How could such a young and innocent child lose its life so dreadfully? He claimed to hear her screaming out. He also said he saw a whole flock of crows perched along the phone lines staring at him. One crow, he swore, had a bloody eye in its beak. At the age of twenty he took his own life leaving his mother and father childless and inconsolable. They both deteriorated rapidly after that.