The Alabama Dream Stealer
Marion Alabama - Joe Waters had been tossing and turning in bed for over a week. At first he thought it was related to moving to Marion from his former home in Anniston but after 10 days of restless sleep he finally resorted to over the counter sleeping pills.
"They didn't help," says Waters. "I still was only getting like an hour or two every night. I kept waking up in the middle of the night feeling like I had to do something but I had no idea what. I even went on-line and looked at a lot of sleep disorder websites but didn't find any information that fit with what I was experiencing. Finally out of frustration I left paper and pen on my night stand because one site said that anxiety could be causing my lack of sleep and this anxiety could be making itself known to me by my dreams. If I could write my dreams down then maybe I could figure out what was making me not sleep."
Over the period of several days Waters wrote down what information he could gleam from his dreams. Curiously enough, they all related to his new back yard and digging. Finally he took a shovel out into the yard and began to dig.
"I just did it for the hell of it," says Waters. "I didn't expect to actually dig up something!"
But he did uncover a wooden statue in the exact place his dreams told him to dig. Mystified, Waters took the statue to local Judson College where History Professor Carol Samson examined it.
Joe Water's recreates the moment he found the statue
"The statue appears to be from the early Meso-American period but doesn't match up to anything we know about the early inhabitants of this area." states Dr. Samson. "Archeological excavations done in the 1970's around here uncovered worked stone and some crude tools but nothing as fanciful as this statue. The wood has oxidized and turned into almost a calcified stone. That normally takes at 600 to 800 years to occur naturally. Of course I can't say for sure unless we get a carbon date done but it at least dates back to the pre-Columbian time period."
Waters seems not particularly interested in having the statue dated. "The first Sunday I had the statue I stayed up all night cleaning it," Joe told me.. I finally fell to sleep at dawn and slept so soundly I missed work. That afternoon I took it to the college and that night I had the same sleep problems again. I got it back from Samson two days later and it hasn't left my sight again. I don't know what it is and I don't care. If it helps me sleep then it's staying with me and that's the end of it. It's not leaving me again. I found it on my property and under the laws of Alabama that makes it mine. They can find a statue of their own, this one is mine."
Water's brother-in-law, Robert Peterson has noticed a change in Joe's behavior and thinks it's related to the statue. "Joe's never been the most hospitable man in the world but he's always been nice to me and was close to his sister, Tracy," says Robert. "Since this statue thing he's stopped coming over to our house for Sunday dinner and he hardly ever talks to us anymore."
Tracy Peterson puts it more bluntly. "That statue is like his whole reason for existence now. He's stopped going to work. He doesn't go out. Hell, he hardly even bathes or changes his clothes. He's losing his mind. I love my brother but its like he's an entirely different person now."
Peterson claims the anti-social behavior is the result of his sleeping disorder and is not related to the statue. "They just don't understand what I was going through with this thing. My whole life was sliding down hill cause I couldn't sleep. Now that I got the statue everything is better. I've missed some days at work but it ain't serious. As soon as I get rested everything will turn back to normal. They'll see."
Interview with Joe Waters February 14th and 15th 2000
Interview with Robert and Tracy Peterson February 14th, 2000
Interview with Dr. Carol Samson February 15th, 2000
picture by Derek Barnes