A Castle in the Country

This is the true tale of a disillusioned city dweller who opted for a remote castle in the country.

| March/April 1981

  • 068 castle in the country - spiral staircase
    A circular stairway leads form the dining room to the two second-floor bedrooms
  • 068 castle in the country - front of castle
    Tthe gazebo/sundeck, where tea is served each afternoon, is located in front of Scudder's castle in the country.
  • 068 castle in the country - rear courtyard
    The rear of the house, showing the courtyard flanked by round brick outbuildings.
  • 068 castle in the country - storage and outhouse
    A courtyard view of the storage building (which also houses the pump) and the elegant, ivy-covered outhouses

  • 068 castle in the country - spiral staircase
  • 068 castle in the country - front of castle
  • 068 castle in the country - rear courtyard
  • 068 castle in the country - storage and outhouse

People often fantasize about trying out different (and usually, at least in the imagination, far better) lifestyles, but few actually change the way they live. Social commitments, habit systems, and inertia stop most such dreamers cold. They just don't know that all it takes to realize a fantasy is a small amount of money, a bit of luck, and a whole lot of courage.

I was "old" when I came into a modest inheritance which amounted to a monthly income of around $100. I was pretty much alone, too, with my wife gone and all of my children grown up.

Furthermore, my house was no castle in the country. I lived in an old mansion in a decaying residential area that was more like a mausoleum, a tomb requiring care, cleaning, and endless costly repairs. I was plagued with taxes, light bills, gas bills, water bills, heating bills, and the helpless feeling that resulted from watching my old neighborhood disintegrate into an urban ghetto.

Security Gone Sour

There were other factors prodding me toward a life-changing decision, too. I had a "good job" as an associate professor in a medical school, so I received a salary raise each year, but—of course—it was always more than swallowed up by inflation.

And as time passed, the medical students grew more unruly and less interested in learning. The standards of the school steadily dropped, and my department became a hotbed of "office politics," backbiting, and resentment.

As soon as I got home each evening I'd change into my old (and not too clean or mended) jeans and muddle about in the garden, finding there the only real moments of satisfaction left in my urban life. (I was even pleased when the city's wildlife, the rats, drank from my garden pool at night! )

3/16/2018 6:08:38 AM

Like Ron, I found this to be a fascinating article. It was amazing to hear the voice of Dr. Scudder from beyond the grave, explaining how and why he chose, as so many have, to leave a "normal life" for building one's own utopia and living off the land as much as possible. I also appreciate the pictures of the mansion before time & vandals took their toll. It fills in so many details that have been lost about this story over the years as people focused on the end to this dream. Thank you for this post.

3/16/2018 6:04:52 AM

In addition, tcul has avoided other facts in the case: that the murders were planned to steal an imaginary fortune; that the murderers had done their own share of drugs & drink on the way to murder Dr. Scudder & Mr. Odom and that they confessed to how and why they did it.

3/16/2018 5:58:13 AM

tcul has provided a perfect example of Confirmation Bias by cherry picking the facts of this murder case. In addition, s/he has provided an excellent example of Demonizing The Victim, a common tactic in insular communities in the 1970s and a technique that defense lawyers used in the 1982 murder trials, especially when the victims were different than the local community (in this case: gay, not Christian and from away).

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