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The Legend of Bloody Bucket Road
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Cindi    Posted 10-31-2003 at 05:29:06       [Reply]  [No Email]
(This is my absolute LAST halloween story, cross my heart and hope to die)

I've been asking around here for as long as I can remember. 'Why is that road going south off of East Main before you get into town, called Bloody Bucket Rd?' That's not it's real name, but that's what everybody calls it. I've had a variety of answers.

I hadn't planned on asking about Bloody Bucket Road today. I wasn't even thinking about it really, even though I had stopped for gas at the Circle K, and the road runs right down behind the store, and I almost never fail to think of it while I'm standing there pumping gas. I mean, what else is there to think about? It's right there in front of you to stare at.

Up by the highway it looks much like any well traveled paved country road, but a hundred yards or so, back into the woods, well that's where the common appearance ends. The further you go south, the trees begin to swallow the road and old oaks on either side, probably older than I am, stretch their branches as far as they can go until they meet in the middle. As a result, even on a sunny day the road lies in deep shadow and I shudder to think what it might be like walking that road on a moonless night.

If you drive farther down Bloody Bucket, you cross a short one lane bridge, then pass through more tree cover for about another three hundred yards and then like being born, you are spat out into the blinding sunlight at the junction of Bloody Bucket Rd and Hiway 64.

I wasn't going that way. I never go that way if I can help it, and certainly not at night. Especially after some of the stories I've heard. I have to go south on occasion, but I just use other roads. Right now I was heading east. Into the store to pay for my gas.

As I approached the big glass doors, I noticed Frank, parked in his wheelchair up by the ice case. Frank is a local fixture. He's a hundred years old if he's a day, black as coal, and as sweet as any human being could ever hope to be. Frank was born and raised in the little town of Wauchula and can tell you at a glance who is related to who, simply by their facial features.

I remember seeing Frank the day after nine eleven. There he sat in his chair, mirrored sunglasses on his gaunt, wrinkled face, an American flag emblazened across every available surface of that chair. He must have spent half of his social security check on flag bumper stickers and cheap little popsicle stick parade flags. Nobody could acuse him of not being patriotic.

Frank is not a beggar, but he is also not adverse to a helping hand. On hot days if you go into the Circle K and you see Frank without a cold drink, well, you brought him out one. If it was early in the morning, you brought him a coffee. Or if you wanted to be really nice and your pockets allowed, you might bring him a coffee and a doughnut.

Today I noted right off that he had a 44 oz belly buster soda so I just greeted him and smiled and grabbed for the door handle. Then somehow, the question came, pretty much of it's own volition.

"Say you know why they call that road Bloody Bucket?" I hooked a thumb over my right shoulder, gesturing in the direction of the road.

He chuckled, and then grinned.

"Why yes, course I do." Then his face grew serious. "Ain't nobody 'roun here remembers da story but some of us ol' timers. Lord, I wasn't even born yet, my daddy told me about it."

It looked like I might finally be going to get the answer that I had been seeking for such a long time. I had gotten answers, but none of them rang true and none could be corroborated by more than one person, as everyone would poo poo the last story and come out with one of their own. I was beginning to think that there really wasn't a reason for the bizarre name, but I was willing to listen to one more story.

"Back in eighteen and ninety seven, there wasn't much in the way of doctors out here. Times were hard all over, even harder here, most folks got by on what they could hunt or grow...big families could be a blessing AND a curse, you know what I mean?"

"Yeah, I know what you mean."

"Wasn't no sucha thang as a 'lady' doctor. Most folks knew a lot about how to heal theyself, and midwives took care of most of the baby birthin' and stuff such as that."

I was getting an idea where this story was headed and I didn't know if I wanted to go there or not, but Frank was wound up and there was no way to shut him off, short of letting him wind down on his own.

"There was a woman by the name of Ludmilla Clark. She was an old woman, born on a Georgia plantation, and brought here by her husband when they managed to buy their freedom. She was the one to call on when a baby was on the way. Or if there was....other complications of some sort. She was right proud of the fact that she had delivered over two hundred babies. One evenin' she was called on by the Turner family.

I think that's the first time they figured out what old Ludmilla was doin'. She had took it on herself to 'help' these families by givin' them less mouths to feed, if you get my drift. There for a while nearly every baby she helped deliver didn't make it for one reason or another. By the time she got 'round to the Turners, one of the more well to do families, had the best of everything, no reason for that baby not to be healthy, and it died anyway, well folks started gettin' suspicious."

"Are you trying to tell me that this woman was killing babies!?" A chill ran up my back.

"Well course that's what I'm telling you!"

"But why?"

"Well who KNOWS why. She was sick in the head. Same as folks are sick in the head now. She just slipped her hand over the child's mouth when no one was lookin' and waited for it to stop strugglin'."

He stopped to draw from the straw on his belly buster drink, while I sat there, my mouth growing increasingly more dry by the minute.

"Some folks say she went crazy delivering so many babies but never had she been allowed to keep her own, and by the time she was free, she was too old to have any more of her own. Anyway," he waved one thin hand dismissively, "she would carry these little bodies down what used to be Reinhardt Pass, what you call Bloody Bucket Rd., and bury them back there in the woods beyond the river. And folks just praised her for being so kind and so helpful. All except Mrs. Turner."


"Oh, no! She had heard her baby cry! She knew her baby had been born healthy. It was her third child, an easy birth, Lord I don't think that woman even broke a sweat bringing that baby into the world, so she cursed Ludmilla and called her for the black hearted witch she was and vowed she never would deliver another baby."

"Did she?"

"Nope, not once word got around. There was no proof, but she was never called on again."

"That still doesn't explain..."

"The bloody bucket part? I'm gettin' to that."


"That's all right." He smiled then to make sure I understood that I was forgiven.

"Shortly after Ludmilla was cursed by Mrs Turner she went a little crazier. She swore that she couldn't leave a bucket sittin' for more than five minutes that it wouldn't fill up plumb to the rim with blood. Some folks said that it was the blood of all those little children gone by come back to haunt her, the blood was on her hands you see, and she plumb wore herself to a frazzle lugging bucket after bloody bucket down Reinhardt Pass to the river to dump it out and rinse it. They found her there one day. She had fallen exhausted into the river and drowned. But that's not even the odd part."

"It's not?"

"Nope. Her husband swore up and down that he had looked into these buckets that she claimed were full of blood and they were as clean as a whistle...not the first sign of blood in any of them, but to ask her, they were full to the top and slopping over with the stuff."

He paused then for another sip from his drink.

"So from now on if anybody asks you about Bloody Bucket Rd, you know the real story."

"Sounds to me like she was done in by her own guilt." I said.

"Can you think of any more fitting way for a woman like her to go?"

"No I guess not."

I walked away with a sadness for all those little souls lost at the hands of a crazy woman. For such a long time I had sought an answer to this riddle. Somehow now, I wish I had never asked the question.

(This is my first attempt at pure and total fiction. It was a lot harder than I expected! I hope that I did not offend anybody!There is a Bloody Bucket Rd and there was a Frank, he passed away last year, but I suspect that if anyone knew the truth it would have been him. I just never got around to asking him.)

Angela    Posted 11-24-2006 at 08:49:47       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Can anyone tell me how to get to the Popash school from Winter Haven? We wanted to go see what this place looks like, but we don't know how to get there! :)

Thanks for the help!

Dan    Posted 09-26-2006 at 00:10:58       [Reply]  [No Email]
I had always heard that Bloody Bucket Road was named after the Bar. But your story was much more entertaining. Very nice job.
I am in college now, but I was born and raised in Wauchula. Been inside Popash school on numerious occasions, however I wouldn't recommend it anymore. Very fun, and extremely creepy at night but it's falling apart. You can hardly make it up the stairs anymore and if the cops catch you...well, just don't let it happen lol.

Dara    Posted 12-18-2005 at 08:09:32       [Reply]  [No Email]
I love this story if you make this into a book I want the first copy.I realy thought that this was a true story.I was born and raised in North Fort Myers and when I Go on road trips I oftin go threw wachula now I can't wait to go and see this bloody bucket road.keep writing and thanks for the good story.

David Tillman    Posted 05-14-2005 at 16:01:01       [Reply]  [Send Email]
OK, I've read this story in "Weird Florida" a week ago, and actually livimg in Wauchula, I can tell you there is not a word of truth to it. I frequently go by the circle K you mention, and I have yet to see a "Frank" in a wheel chair, BTW. The "bloody buckey bridge" is actually a two lane bridge, not one lane. You'll have a good career as a fiction writer though.

The water doesn't turn blood red on the night of the full moon, either. It has hues of blue and white on the full moon nights. It's brown in color in the day time because of all the tanic acid from the cypress trees.

...and the real reason bloody bucket road is called such is (drum roll please) there was a bar there called "The Bloody Bucket" back in the 1930's and 40's until the county went dry, and the bar burnt down. You can still see the concrete slab that was once the floor of the bar in the wooded area next to the road. People still refer to the road as "Bloody Bucket" road. The bridge is called "Bloody Bucket" bridge (actually around here we just say "you know, that bridge on bloody bucket road", I don't think anybody really calls it that. The story about the crazy midwife is coloful, but I certainly never heard it before. I can tell you this...if anyone was killing children in those days, the case would have never gone to trial because the people would have just killed her outright. I notice in none of these stories no one ever mentions the bar. Now the bar WAS a real place, because people I have talked to several old timers who used to drink there. MAny places in Florida have coloful names, and sometimes people invent crazy stories to explain them.
But anything to make this town grow! If a crazy urban(?) legend will do it, I'm all for it.

summer    Posted 12-18-2008 at 15:24:14       [Reply]  [Send Email]
HI my name is summer and i live in Wauchual well my dad does and after i hard about the bloody buket i was in shock because i have hard that people have killed blacks under the bridge that used to stay at the bar and drick atlest thats what my sister told me that the would kill blacks and the kids and hang them from the bridge is that true has any one hard that right back soon

Aide Echavarria    Posted 12-05-2008 at 14:23:22       [Reply]  [Send Email]
really that's interesting i think?

KellyGa    Posted 10-31-2003 at 13:28:09       [Reply]  [No Email]
You know, you can already tell stories that are true so well, this was even cooler. You have a dangerous mind, USE IT! LOL! Seriously, you have got a goldmine sitting right in your head, so get to writing girl! Somebody has got to make it around here and be famous! :) I just want to win the lottery. Until you told me it wasn't real, I thought it was! SO I reckon that says that was good writing skills there! Go with it.

Cori M    Posted 08-22-2005 at 12:12:52       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I lived in Wauchula for most of my life. I lived on "Bloody Bucket Road", which is actually Griffin Road, for the last five years I lived in Florida. First of all, the trees don't cover the road except for a small section toward Highway 64. And the bridge is, and always has been as far as any of us can remember, been two-laned. The bar that gave the road it's nickname was on the sharp curve between the bridge and Circle K. Frank was a man in a wheelchair who actually lived across the road from me and my parents. He wasn't that friendly toward us most of the time, so I doubt he would take the time to tell such a story. He only seldomly sat in front of the store, usually waiting for someone to come back and pick him up. Nice story though. Just get some facts straight first to make it a little more believable.

Rustybones    Posted 11-01-2003 at 04:05:06       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Cindy, you have a wonderful talent for storytelling! If you wrote books, I would DEFINATELY buy them. I know you would do well as a writer.
I can't wait to

Cindi    Posted 11-01-2003 at 11:16:43       [Reply]  [No Email]
Thanks bones. I have a blog if you want to visit it.

RichZ    Posted 10-31-2003 at 06:05:18       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Cindi, that's pretty awesome for your first attempt!!! Great story!!! I can see you becoming the next Stephen King!!! I always thought Florida was more spooky than Maine, and you'll make everyone realize that!!!

Cindi    Posted 10-31-2003 at 06:16:47       [Reply]  [No Email]
Rich! I was so afraid you would be mad at me for this story! You're so tender hearted! Thanks for not being mad at me. Florida is pretty spooky. Especially at night. Which is pretty much why I stay inside most of the time. Now one year Jill and me and a few of her freinds went down on halloween night to one of the very old cemeteries and took a camera and a tape recorder. We were very quiet and very respectful and had permission in advance to do this. But we didn't get anything. I think next year I will write about Popash school. It's an old one room abandoned school house. I would love to go in there at night. The building has to be a hundred years old, and was used as a school, a residence and a hospital. It's been sitting empty for thirty years. Cooool.

CelestiaStar    Posted 10-03-2005 at 09:14:36       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Cindi, Popash isn't a one-room school house, it was several rooms and is in horrid condition. I definately recommend going to it though. There is a spooky tree or two in the front with a cemetary to the left and an orchard surrounding the back and right side. supposedly, everybody died the night it burned down. Nice job on the story telling though.

-Celestia Star

RichZ    Posted 10-31-2003 at 06:39:25       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Mad at you???!!!

Just because I'm tender hearted, doesn't mean that I don't like horror stories!!! I love old Stephen King stories, but I don't think his recent stuff is up to par. This story reminds me of the early King stuff, it's good, I mean REALLY good!!!

I think you should work on some more fiction like this on your SPARE time!!!

Cindi, having SPARE time, HA!!! Now there's a work of fiction!!! Let's see, you're a mother, farmer, writer, soon to be Walmart Employee (quickly rising into management). Yep, you've got lots of spare time!!!!

Cindi    Posted 10-31-2003 at 06:44:01       [Reply]  [No Email]
As a matter of fact, I was practicing last night staying up all night to prepare for my job, when this story came out. I have been wanting to write about this road forever but I couldn't get any FACTS! I had no choice but to make it up. Thanks Rich, as always you are good for my heart!

Ashley    Posted 06-15-2004 at 10:57:10       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I just wanted to say that it was a great story. I am also wondering when you plan to write something about the popash school. I have been trying to get information about it on the internet and I am unable to find anything regarding the school or the story I heard about some children being locked up in the top floor in which they burned to death when the school caught fire. I have heard that the building is haunted by the soles of the children. I can't seem to find any information to confirm or deny the story if you have any information please share. Just curious to know about the building and its history.

Ashley    Posted 06-15-2004 at 10:57:10       [Reply]  [No Email]

Pam    Posted 08-17-2006 at 23:57:32       [Reply]  [Send Email]
My husband is from Wauchula, and when we visit his aunt, we have to drive by the Popash School. He says no one wants to tear it down, they are waiting for it to fall on its own. The school is surrounded by barbed wire with a no trespassing sign on it.

Marsha Lambert    Posted 05-07-2007 at 11:49:33       [Reply]  [No Email]
I'm buried in the New Hope Cemetery next to Popash. My grandmother who is long dead and buried next to me had always told me Bloody Bucket is where they used to hang people.

Debbie    Posted 03-05-2007 at 20:57:03       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I just thought I would jump in on this and say (if anyone is still reading these) that on Thursday, March 1, 2007 while traveling a back way to Orlando, My sister in law, mom and myself stopped at the Popash School to have a look around. I have driven by it many times in the past on my way to visit my daughter and have always felt compelled to stop. I guess I was afraid of getting arrested for trespassing, so I never did, but the school has always captivated me. It is in such a terrible state of disrepair. The second floor has actually caved in over the entranceway and you can see all the way up into the bellfry. the front doors are gone, one is laying in the yard, and the local kids have been spray painting and carving into the brick entryway. The floor has rotted away and you can see through to the foundation. There is a wide staircase across from the entrance that is still standing, but I doubt anyone would be brave enough to try them out. The place has such a sadness about it and it is such a shame that something can't be done to save it from further deterioration. As far as the "ghost" stories I've read about the place, I didn't hear or feel anything strange. I will say though that I probably wouldn't stop there at night, no matter how "drawn" to the place I feel. Hope this helps the curious who don't have access to the school... Thanks, Debbie

Becky    Posted 03-29-2007 at 13:05:24       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I too have been drawn to the school. I didn't know what it was, but I wrote down the name our first trip to Avon Park from North Port. I wanted to go in as well, but I thought I might need permission. Do you know if it is okay to look around the grounds? I know that going inside is out of the question, given its state. But I just want to have a looksie. Thanks for the information. I really appreciate it.
Asio (Blessings).
~Becky Pederson

Jenn    Posted 10-31-2007 at 07:57:15       [Reply]  [No Email]
Just FYI, we were just at Popash yesterday, the state has put fencing around the outside with tresspassing signs clearly displayed stating that it is a grove. It is in sad condition but stil a very captivating building. Would love to buy it and make it a restaurant and museam or maybe just our home. Very cool place. There is no way to walk up to it anymore.

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