Growing up, my friends and I would often make plans to walk, bike, or run The Five Mile. The banana peel pile is exactly what it sounds like: a large heap—probably six feet in diameter and several feet tall—of rotting banana peels.
The pile sat maybe 25 feet from the sidewalk, down a gentle slope and into a wooded area. If you knew what you were looking for, it was clear to see, but I imagine most people never spotted it. Trust me, I asked a lot of people. It was a sleepy, low-key mystery in a sleepy, low-key town that never called attention to itself.
Not dead. My friends and I developed a few theories over the years about the banana peel pile.
Friend: maybe every morning someone eats a banana on their way to work. Me: thats actually not a bad hypothesis. We circled similar theories for years, but the most lasting guess involved a nearby house and the man who occupied it—an infamous local figure named Doc Corbin Dart. He owned a baseball card shop in nearby Lansing and was a candidate for mayor there inrunning on a platform based almost entirely on building a rape prevention center. The family reportedly asked Doc not to run for office at all.
Inhe changed his name to Dart is probably best known among the people of Okemos, however, for his house. Full disclosure, several of these are quoted in a article my dad wrote about the s for the Lansing State Journal. The story is online, but behind a paywall. Needless to say, the neighborhood did not greet these messages with open arms. The house was vandalized, egged, and paint-balled. Dart also displayed upside-down American flags and his phoneso threatening calls soon followed.
People knocked on his door looking for a fight. The police were called.
Eventually, the s came down. In the living room, we had to step around a half-dozen pound bags of bird and animal feed neatly arranged by the sliding glass doors leading to the backyard.
McPheeters wrote that Doc was fond of the local wildlife and that he spent time imagining the interior life of raccoons and feeding deer. Did he feed them bananas perhaps? So is the banana peel pile. And so, Discourse Blog reader, I have a request: I want to hear about your own persistent mysteries, local urban legends, strange happenings, hometown eccentrics, and niche enigmas.
When I was in high school, a giant billboard went up on the main highway into my smallish hometown. It was a black field with white letters, and it just read, "Your wife knows," and it stayed up for a month. People began to speculate, and pretty soon the consensus was that it had to be someone about to be very publicly blasted for having an affair.
The next month, the same billboard, same styling, read, "Your neighbors know. Month three, the billboard read, "Everyone knows. The fourth month, the billboard read, "Everyone knows that the best deals on a Toyota are at Riverside Toyota," and the whole town had slandered a man.
For about 70 years, there's been a colony of vervet monkeys that lives near Fort Lauderdale's airport, not far from the port and the beach. They'd occasionally cause trouble on the runway or at people's homes, but mostly they stayed away from people.
They were well-known and part of local lore to the point that for years, the local teen get-up-to-no-good spot was unused scrubland near the port called Monkey Road. Occasional stories about them were always vague on how they got there; sometimes it was a "roide attraction" that they escaped from in the '50s, sometimes a zoo that closed in the '40s.
Nobody ever seemed to know for sure how these monkeys got here. Then, several years ago, scientists started studying them.
And now, they're getting their own sanctuary, on land near where they've always lived. Discourse Blog Subscribe. About Archive Help Log in.
Share this post. Pandemic Life: Unsolved Mysteries I'm still haunted by the mystery of my hometown's banana peel pile.
What strange things can you just not shake? Caitlin Schneider. Sound off below! Image: Tony Wilson. Create your profile. Only paying subscribers can comment on this post Already a paying subscriber? Log in. Check your For your security, we need to re-authenticate you. A very nice dog. Expand full comment.
Erik Petersen. My hometown has a mystery monkey colony that recently got a happy ending. Ready for more?
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