March 9, 1942 The Bewitched Oven
A wealthy man from New York State recently bought a farm near Coopersburg, Lehigh County. He started to modernize the fine old stonehouse and engaged laborers to clear away some small buildings in order that the landscape architect could lay out the grounds. The laborers performed their tasks thoroughly until they received orders to tear down an old bake-oven. This they hesitated to do, saying that the structure was bewitched.
Pressed for details the working men explained that occult forces were present in the old oven. Bread baked there would come out of the oven with distinct letters embedded or raised on the underside of the loaves. The owner was alarmed. He consulted a hex doctor and was informed that it was the work of witches who were trying to convey a spirit message to earthly people. The practitioner’s advice was that a record should be kept of all letters as they appeared and an effort was made to assemble the letters into some message.
Several bakings yielded no clues, the letters were always the same, nor nearly the same in appearance. Then the practitioner advised that the oven should be abandoned, explaining that the witches probably had adopted the oven as their home and therefore they objected to the hot fires of baking-day. They might take vengeance, he warned, if their protests were disregarded.
The New Yorker refused to be terrified. Assuring the working men that he would assume all of the blame the witches could heap upon him he ordered the oven torn away. When the stone floor was uncovered it was found that at the back of the oven there were foot-stones from a nearby cemetery on which were carved the initials of persons who had been buried there. When the cemetery was modernized the foot-stones had been removed to facilitate the mowing of the plots and the thrifty mason who built the baking oven had used them, letter side up. They made out a pretty good case for the witches, but not quite good enough.
Contributed by E. Douglas Kains, Wyomissing.