Posts Tagged ‘small towns’

The doll that watches over Janesville.

A Janesville legend died a few weeks ago. Ward Wendt was 84 years old. He was born in Janesville and died at a nursing home in nearby Waterville. Ward was a farmer, a florist and a railroad worker. He was an enthusiastic collector. His wife died in 1997, and his obituary revealed he was survived by nieces, great nieces and nephews and great-great nieces and nephews.

But Ward left a legend behind, or at least one of the urban variety. I grew up across the street and two houses up from Ward’s house, which sits along the old Highway 14, the road that for decades went right through the town in southern Minnesota.

Ward’s house was — still is — home to the famous Janesville doll in the window, and if you think I’m exaggerating by calling it famous spend a few moments on Google and get ready to read about ghosts, and little girls who killed themselves and small boys neglected by their parents and demon possessions and eyes that hypnotize drivers as they roll through a town they’d forget six seconds after they leave it, if not for the doll that watches over everything. Today — even though four-lane Highway 14 now bypasses the town so there’s not as much traffic — you’ll still see drivers slow down as they approach the house, craning their necks to stare at the mysterious object.