When I first learned about Mel Dixon and his giant, I knew I had to hear the story for myself. I traveled to western Pennsylvania and begged Mel to tell me the tale. After I heard his remarkable story, I knew there was no better way to tell it than in Mel’s own words.
“I’ve been out in these woods my whole life. Everybody talks about the old stories and the bad stuff like Mother Meade and her monsters, but when I go out, I see what I want to see. If I’m hunting doe, I look for doe. And if I see something that ain’t quite right, I don’t go and make a big fuss about it ‘cause that’s not what I’m looking for. There’s a way you can see and not see if you want to.
“Now, I’ll tell you the story ‘cause you came a long way for it, but it really wasn’t nothing. I go out in these woods a lot, not just for hunting. I walk out to the Quarter to clear my mind and do my thinking.
“This time back three years, I went walking. This was fall and the leaves had turned and were falling. Some of the trees in the Quarter were bare, but not all.
“It was nice and quiet. There weren’t a lot of noises in the Quarter to start, but the only thing I heard that day was the leaves crunching when I walked on them.
“I come up this ridge and was looking out over the valley. I saw some trees moving down there and I thought the wind must be picking up. Thought there must be a storm coming.
“Then I see a tree go down and it went down real fast, not like it fell but like it was pulled. Anyway, I didn’t think much about it ‘cept I ought to be careful of dead trees coming down.
“I started heading down the other side of the ridge. It was after lunch and the light was starting to go already. I was making my way down through the trees there where they all stand real close together and the ground is pretty much bare.
“It was getting dark what with the all the shadows, but there was some sun cutting around the trees ‘cause it was low in the sky.
“I come around a turn in the path and I can see down the hill a pretty good way from where I was walking. There’s rows and rows of trees, almost like they was lined up.
“I’m looking at the trees and there’s a little ray of sun across a couple of them and I keep looking and walking and looking and I notice that something ain’t quite right and that’s why I keep looking even though I can’t figure out what’s wrong.
“There’s three trees in a row and they look pretty much the same: skinny with old brown bark, no lower branches to speak of. I’m looking at the middle tree and it looks like it has some roots on its trunk and I figure that’s what looked out of place. Then I said to myself, ‘Heck, that ain’t a root, that’s a hand.’
“Well, it was like a big old hand – bigger than a man’s – across the tree trunk. I thought something was standing behind the tree, but the hand was the same color as the tree.
“I was still walking all this time. I don’t think it occurred to me that I ought to stop and turn around and go home another way. I just didn’t know what I was seeing but, at the time, it didn’t strike me as dangerous.
“I come down the path and I’m getting closer to the tree, wondering if it’s a carving or some weird tree bark. I get about a stone’s throw from the tree before I look up and see what’s on top of the tree.
“Well, now I said it was dark so I couldn’t make it out at first, but I looked and I thought I saw something looking back at me. There were eyes – two eyes – in the tree and when I studied it, I could see the whole face.
“Now I stopped walking for sure. The whole woods were dead quiet and it seemed to me like everything was just waiting on me.
“I looked up at this face in the tree and I could see the head and some scraggly hair and then the shoulders and the arms and at least one hand. You couldn’t tell it until you looked hard at the thing, and then there it was.
“He was about twenty feet tall at least. He was awful skinny but then again he was pretending to be a tree. I mean, even his skin was like bark, old and tough-looking. He was lean, I would say. And when I looked in his eyes, you could tell he was scared and he was hungry.
“Well, I figured I spooked him as much as he did me. When he saw that I had made him, he just turned around and walked off.
“It all lasted no more than a few seconds. I see him and he sees me and then there he goes, as tall as a house and old as the hills, not making a sound as he walked away.
“I lost sight of him pretty quick ‘cause he blended in with the trees so much. I guess that’s how he hides out here. Sometimes I wonder how many people have walked by him, maybe right under him, and not even knew he was there. I wonder how many times I did, too.
“Now of course the people around here like to say that these woods – Broome’s Quarter – is where old Mother Meade and her babies hid out. They say every one of her babies was born a monster and even though it was hundreds of years ago, they’re still out there.
“Well, I don’t know about monsters or the old stories. But what I do know is that there’s a giant alive in these hills and he’s hungry and you won’t see him before he sees you.”
Read more about Mother Meade's monster children here.