A hang-out for a group of boys fifty years ago, brought about the ghost legend of Pinky's Cave. The spooky tunnel is actually a three-mile concrete drainage ditch that snakes under neighborhood streets between Ardath and Kell Boulevard. Running clear under Kell, it was built by the city of Wichita Falls in the 1960s to prevent flooding in the Brook Village area. A teenager by the name of Robin Pinkman lived near there then and claimed the tunnel as his own, forever branding it as Pinky's Cave.
|Photo by Claire Kowalick was featured in the Wichita Falls Times Record News on 4/10/2010|
Reading about that reminded me of two things. One: As a teenager along with my cousins, I explored a concrete drainage ditch in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas. What fun, what mystery, what carelessness. Two: one of my favorite authors, Bonnie Lanthripe, wrote the middle-grade book, The Ringleader, about teen boys who solve the mystery of the drainage ditch in their home town. I could envision ghosts in a tunnel like the one where I played.
Pinkman, who is now a local teacher and rancher, says he remembers the ditch as being his and his neighbor friend's private clubhouse. They often spent the night there and told ghost stories. Now, I never had the nerve to do that. Of course, my aunt wouldn't have let us, anyway.
The boys told one tale of a man who lived in the cave and would "get you" if he found out that you doubted. The roar of the wind and the rumblings of cars overhead created echoes and thumps that complemented the made-up stories. Sometimes, the boys hid in the drain pipes built into the tunnel and would jump out and scare the girls.
In the tornado of 1979 that blew away much of Wichita Falls, many people were saved by hiding in the ditch. My husband and I moved to the city two years after this storm. I still remember the fear exhibited by the residents every time a strange cloud would form.
Nowadays, the entrance to Pinky's Cave is heavily spray-painted. Lewd words and drawings sprawl across the walls belying the early-time innocence. In the days of drugs and gangs, neighbors worry about what goes on in the under-the-street cave.
Still, many Wichitans remember the days of ghost tales and harmless fun and wonder if the ghost of Pinky's Cave is real.