WARNING:CONTAINS SOME GRAPHIC AND DISTURBING MATERIAL
Raymond "Ray" Robinson was born on October 29th, 1910 just a couple days shy of Halloween.
As a young boy of eight years old, Robinson was badly injured by an electrical line on the Morado Bridge, outside of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, while attempting to view a bird's nest.
The bridge carried a trolley and had electrical lines of both 1,200 volts
and 22,000 volts, which had killed another boy less than a year
earlier. Robinson was not expected to survive; he lived, but he was
badly scarred and lost his eyes, nose, one ear, and one arm.
Robinson lived in Koppel and spent his days at home with relatives, making doormats, wallets, and belts to sell.
Because of his appearance, he rarely ventured out during the day.
However, at night, he went for long walks on a quiet stretch of State Route 351,
feeling his way along with a walking stick.
Local residents, who would drive along his
road in hopes of meeting him, called him The Green Man or Charlie No-Face.
They passed on tales about him to their children and grandchildren, and
people raised on these tales are sometimes surprised to discover that
he was a real person who was liked by his family and neighbors.
Groups of locals regularly
gathered to search for him walking along the road. Robinson usually hid
from his curious neighbors, but would sometimes exchange a short
conversation or a photograph for beer or cigarettes. Some were friendly,
others cruel, but none of his encounters deterred Robinson from his
nightly walks. He was struck by cars more than once.
He stopped his walks during the last years of his life, and retired to
the Beaver County Geriatric Center, where he died in 1985 at the age of
Robinson became a local myth in the Pittsburgh
area, and his real story was obscured by urban legend:
This Excerpt mentioned Robinson in full blown Urban Legend glory:
"If Halloween puts you in the mood for a creepy tale, ask a local old-timer to tell you about the Green Man.
Just mention that to someone who grew up in Western Pennsylvania
in, say, the 1950s, and there's a good chance he or she at least has
heard of this monstrous creature, said to stalk remote roads at night,
especially this time of year.
Depending on when and where you heard the legend, this man glows
green as a result of being struck by lightning, or being shocked or
otherwise transformed in some industrial accident, and he haunts South
Park, or the North Hills, or the skinny country lanes around Washington,
"I've heard McKees Rocks, I've heard Brookline. You can pick the
haunting of your choice," says Mike Diehl, the Allegheny County parks
superintendent who's heard about the Green Man for the 25 years he's
He hands the phone to his assistant, Marie Werner, who grew up in
Elizabeth Township and graduated from Elizabeth Forward in 1968. Long
before high school, thanks to her older brothers, she knew about the
Green Man. You had to beware of him along South Park's Snowden Road -- a
twisty, woodsy, unlit stretch popular for necking and other pubescent
tricks and treats.
"The legend goes that he roams that hollow late at night and chases
the parkers and the loafers," says Werner, who admits to having gone
there a few times.
"I never saw him," she adds, though many friends claimed to.
She is convinced the Green Man still is there -- at least in the
imaginations of locals and the teens who still hang out along the road.
"Absolutely," she says. "Right now, it's a big topic in the high school. ... The legend is still strong."
To this day, confirms South Park historian Jo Pelesky, the nearby
tunnel that Piney Fork Road and its namesake creek follow under the old
B&O railroad is known as the "Green Man Tunnel." Like others, she
describes it as a spooky-looking spot, though she knows that's not the
only reason it gave adolescents gooseflesh.
"The guys used to take their girlfriends there, you know," says
Pelesky, who grew up in that area in the 1930s when it was all coal
mines. She's heard that one night back in the '40s or so, one guy,
perhaps in a costume, was out there peeking in the steamy windows of the
cars, "and scared them half to death." She's even heard that it was a
mentally deranged person who was later institutionalized, but, "I can't
In her 72 years, Pelesky hasn't seen the Green Man. "Of course, I never parked in that tunnel."
Temple, now 58 and a printer who works the overnight shift at the
Post-Gazette, says the Green Man made such an indelible impression on
him that he's written a story to keep it alive for his grandkids. His
tale goes back to 1956 when he and Ray Griffin were 16-year-old
"One evening in June," he writes, "Ray and I were hanging out with
two other friends -- Guy Muto and Jim Walsh -- and as we had nothing
better to do, Ray suggested that we go up to see the Green Man. This was
an offer I couldn't refuse."
They piled into Temple's '51 Ford and headed north for the
Turnpike, which they took to Route 18, then followed that to the light
in Koppel, turning left on Route 351.
"As soon as we started up the road," his story continues, "Ray
announced that is the road the Green Man always walked on. There was a
long silence and I could feel the goosebumps and when we finally did say
something, we seemed to be whispering."
Perhaps inevitably, Temple recalls that "it was a bit foggy and the
visibility was not real good at times." As they came around a bend,
"Ray yelled, 'There he is!' and the car lights shined directly on the
Temple, who was driving, describes nervously hitting the brakes,
then the gas, then the brakes, while chattering with his similarly
They turned around and passed the Green Man once more, but were too terrified to stop.
Still, their exploit was impressive enough that older boys actually
spoke to them about it. "We were still the same jerks that we were
before ... but now we were minor celebrities."
That summer, Temple returned many times -- sometimes with those
buddies, sometimes with others. In fact, he recalls traffic jams caused
by cruisers who actually stopped to talk with the Green Man. The first
time Temple did that, he got a parking ticket (he came to believe that
"the local police used the Green Man to make the township a few extra
Later, after asking the Green Man if he could, Temple snapped some color photographs of him.
The pictures were the perfect pickup pretext, Temple writes. "I
would have a friend go to the counter of a drive-in restaurant and
mention within hearing range of a nice-looking girl that I had pictures
of the Green Man, and the next thing you knew, there was a tap on the
window of my car and a girl wanting to know if she could see the
pictures. When they asked where he was located, I told them to give me
their phone number and I would call them the next time that I would be
going up. Sometimes it worked."
But Temple started to feel bad about this freak show, because he'd
learned the Green Man was a nice human being. It was just that, as a
boy, he had been severely shocked, and that's why most of one arm was
missing and his face was so disfigured.
In fact, the locals referred to him as "Charlie No Face," which "I didn't think was too nice a name," Temple says.
He could remember that his first name was Ray, but not his last name or other details.
He's not even sure why people called him the Green Man, because he
wasn't, but surmises that the plaid shirts he often wore -- as in his
snapshots -- would reflect green in people's headlights.
Or in their imaginations.
"You have to realize how things were in the '50s," Temple says,
recalling the prevalence of movies about flying saucers and aliens,
inspired by real-life fears like that of being beaten by the Communists
in the newly launched space race.
In July 1957, Temple joined the Air Force. After he got out in '61,
he sought the Green Man several times, but never saw him again. He
wonders what happened.
"This is part of Western Pennsylvania history," he says, and one
he's never seen fully chronicled, which is why he urged this reporter to
check it out.
Well, hard facts are scarce, but Temple's story does check out in
Koppel. Mention the Green Man to folks of a similar age -- say, at the
borough office, or at Ann's Market & Deli across the street -- and
they well remember him.
"We used to go out and give him beer," says 60-year-old Pete
Pavlovic, from behind the counter at Ann's. The former newspaper
photographer, who once did a story about the Green Man for the old
Koppel paper, says his real name was Ray Robinson, and he's long dead.
(His curiosity piqued, Pavlovic called an area funeral home and found
that Raymond T. Robinson died in 1985, at age 74, of natural causes.)
People used to run into this same building, when it was his dad's
market, and insist they'd seen a monster on the road. "They wanted to
call the police. You'd have to explain. Then they'd usually go back up
looking for him."
Even locals were scared of him when they were kids. Around 1940,
the first time Frank Pellegrine delivered groceries to the family's
house and saw Robinson, "I dropped the boxes and run."
Another store worker, Olive Cearfoss, actually shivers recounting
the Sunday that she walked past the Green Man on her way back to town
from a swimming hole down the road. "I was so scared it was unreal."
But once they got past his appearance, they realized he wouldn't hurt anyone.
"Helluva a nice guy," says 62-year-old Phil Ortega, who used to
take his dates out to see "Charlie," and also took him Lucky Strikes.
Apparently, some people used to regularly visit him and pay him other
kindnesses. Ortega believes he liked talking with people on the road.
Still, many agree, it was a sad situation, and one that often got
out of hand, says George Richner, who still lives along the road.
"The cars come from, Christ, as far away as Chicago one time," he says, pointing to one pull-off where gawkers gathered.
Like others, he wasn't aware of any living relatives, but he
offered to take this reporter to the old Robinson house. There, even he
was surprised when his knock was answered by Robinson's sister, Volaria
Rice, who's also in her 80s.
She embraced her old schoolmate, and kindly invited the visitors
in, but was adamant about not wanting to talk about her brother. "I just
want to leave it the way it is."
Chatting with her briefly -- about how much she worried about her
brother drinking on his walks out on that narrow road -- makes it easy
to realize how painful some of her memories must be.
Today, her brother most certainly would get better medical treatment.
Perhaps he'd get better treatment from other people, too.
That he didn't may be the scariest part of the Green Man's lingering legend."
(Saturday, October 31, 1998
By Bob Batz Jr., Post-Gazette Staff Writer)
Sources: Bauder, Bob (2007-03-10), "Charlie No Face: The Life and the Legend", Beaver County Times