Mae Clair’s Cabinet of Curiosities: The Green Man, Charlie No-Face

Art concept. Vintage still life with old books stacked ear near lighted brass candle, carnivale mask in background, eyeglasses on top of books

Hello, friends! Sorry I disappeared last week. I had a birthday celebration that lasted for several days (yes, it was a milestone), then upon returning to work, found myself hammered with a backlog. I just didn’t have the energy to log onto the computer outside of work hours, but I am now getting back to my regular routine.

Today, I’m sharing an old Mythical Monday post from the days when I didn’t have many blog followers. Now, that I’ve connected with so many great friends in the blogosphere, I thought I’d trot my earlier posts out again as part of my Cabinet of Curiosities.

The tale of Charlie No-Face (also known as the Green Man) comes from Western Pennsylvania. As is often the case with urban legends, portions of the story have a basis in fact. Sad and tragic, but true nonetheless.

According to legend, the Green Man was an electrician who almost met his end when was he was electrocuted on the job. Another version claims he was struck by lightning. In both cases, his face was horribly disfigured and his skin was imbued with an eerie greenish cast. Shunned by those around him, he retreated to an abandoned railway tunnel which became his home. By night, he roamed the roadways and countryside, often creeping upon unsuspecting teens who favored secluded areas. Over the years as the legend grew, the Green Man—or Charlie No-Face—became a tale to frighten children and share by campfires on dark summer nights.

But the reality is much different, the story of a compassionate man who suffered a horrific accident as a child. Ray Robinson was only eight years old when he and some friends were walking past the Morado Railway Bridge in 1919. Egged on by his buddies, Ray climbed the bridge (which held the power lines for a trolley) hoping for a better glimpse of a bird’s nest they’d spied from the ground. At some point he came in contact with a high voltage wire and was severely electrocuted.

He suffered burns from the waist up, and for a time it was not certain if he would live or die. His face was mutilated—both eyes burned away, his nose reduced to a hole, one ear mangled as well as his mouth. Yet despite his appalling injuries, this young boy found the will to survive. After numerous surgeries he remained in good humor, adapting to a life that included Braille and small pleasures like listening to the radio.

Photography of Raymond Robinson, also known as Charlie No-Face or the Green Man
Raymond Robinson also known as the Green Man, (Fair use)*

Horribly scarred and blind, he would become a recluse over time, rarely venturing out at day because of his appearance. He never had more than a first grade education but kept busy at home learning puzzles and dabbling in small crafts. Those who knew him claimed he was one of the nicest souls they’d ever met.

Sometime in the 1940s when he was an adult, Ray began taking nightly walks using a walking stick to guide him, following a course along a section of road known as Route 351. He enjoyed the routine which gave him the freedom to venture outside under the cover of darkness away from prying eyes. But word eventually leaked about “the green man” who roamed the road at night. The green man nickname probably came from the green sweater he often wore for his excursions. Soon curiosity-seekers began looking for him. Most were friendly, some even sharing beer and cigarettes with him, but a few were demeaning and cruel.

Ray remained undaunted and continued his nightly walks, gaining popularity in the 1950s and 60s when many people sought him out to chat. By the 1980s he’d finally reached an age where he couldn’t continue the habit any longer, taking up residence in a nursing home. Ray passed away at age seventy-four on June 11, 1985, leaving two legends behind: that of a supernatural bogey-main who prowled the night-blacked roads in search of unsuspecting teens, and the reality of a kind-hearted man who lived an amazing life.

Although the urban legend of the Green Man is perhaps the more widely-circulated, thankfully, it’s rarely mentioned without tribute to the courageous man who inspired it. Rest in peace, Ray.


*Photo of Raymond Robinson (fair use) Copied from http://www.ncnewsmedia.com/archive/tim_galleries/SPECIAL_PROJECTS_07/
OCTOBER/Green_Man/image1.htm

60 thoughts on “Mae Clair’s Cabinet of Curiosities: The Green Man, Charlie No-Face

    • Hi, Annika. I don’t think anyone would have blamed Ray had he chose to be bitter about his circumstances. I find it so inspirational that he took a different path. I doubt I would have had his courage to face life the way he did. Truly an amazing man!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Late Happy Birthday! It’s awesome you got to celebrate it THOROUGHLY:) I’m amazed Ray survived but I’m even more astounded that he never turned bitter or felt sorry for himself. He must have been an exceptional person.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the birthday wishes, Judi. I had a wonderful time thanks to hubby and my family.

      I agree that Ray had to be something special. I wouldn’t have had his courage. It amazes me to think how he lived his life. I’m glad there were many kind people he met during his nightly walks.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Many times my reader misses some posts I look forward to and last week I visited your blog twice to make sure I haven’t missed your cabinet Mae; didn’t know you were busy celebrating a milestone! Happy belated birthday and cheers to many more 🤗 Some stories are heart-wrenching and this one is one of those.

    Liked by 1 person

    • HI, Balroop. Thanks for checking in on me last week. 🙂 It was both a fun week and an exhausting one for differing reasons. I’m glad to be back among my blogging friends again. Thank you for the birthday wishes! 🙂

      I agree Ray’s story is definitely a heart-wrenching one. He truly must have been an amazing man!

      Liked by 1 person

    • That just goes to show how long we have been blogging friends, Flossie 🙂
      And the fact that you remembered the post says a lot about the impact Ray’s story made on you. He was certainly an inspirational and amazing man!

      Like

  3. One of my favorite things about legends and spooky tales is learning the truth behind them. Because that part of the history is often unappreciated. This is a great tale, Mae. I’m so glad you shared it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mar, I completely agree with you about learning the true inspiration behind the legend. It’s usually every bit, if not more intriguing than the tales it spurns. Thanks for visiting today to celebrate Ray’s life!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Belated happy birthday, Mae! 🥳 I hope you had loads of fun because I’m pretty sure it’s a milestone worth celebrating. And, well, a break is always in order, haha! Anyway, thanks for sharing. I’m fairly new to your blog so to speak but these posts are starting to become my favorites 😄

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had a wonderful birthday celebration, Marie. Lots of fun activities over several days. Thanks so much for the belated wishes.
      And I’m glad you are enjoying my Cabinet of Curiosities posts. I’ve always had a passion for folklore and urban legends. I know you do too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I very much do! 😊 So do my husband and brother, but they don’t hang around these parts so I just have to keep sending them the links to your posts, haha. Thanks again for sharing, Mae! 💖

        Liked by 1 person

  5. First and foremost, Happy Belated Birthday, Mae! It’s great to have you back, and this post was a humdinger! What a sad, yet inspiring, tale! I’m so glad this man found peace in his life and made friends along his walks. A tale like this makes us remember how very blessed we are, even when life is being contrary. Thank you so much for sharing it again! Birthday Hugs! 🤗 🍰 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the birthday hugs and wishes, my dear Penderpal! It was a great birthday with a lot of fun spread over several days. One to be remembered for sure 🙂

      Like you, I’m glad Ray was able to make friends during his walks. It seemed he really gained a measure of fame, and when people got to know him, they were struck by his kindness and stalwart spirit. Definitely a man who made an impression on others with his amazing spirit!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m so glad I read about him here, Mae. He really inspired me to just get ON with things! I’m pacing myself so I won’t be my own worst enemy, but if a man could go through what he did–yet still manage to build a life complete with meaningful relationships–I can by golly get myself pulled together here and work my way back to normal! And I will!

        And I’m so glad your birthday was a great one, and here’s to many, many more! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  6. A tragic yet triumphant story, Mae. I’ve never heard this story until now. The resiliency of the human heart never ceases to amaze me. His fortitude and the humanity received from compassionate hearts is a wonderful story to share. How I wish all gave such grace and understanding. Thanks for sharing it with us.
    And happiest belated birthday wishes! I hope you enjoyed a fabulous day! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Natalie. It was a wonderful birthday. I can’t believe another year has blown by so quickly, LOL.

      Ray’s fortitude was truly amazing. I shudder to think how I would have reacted to life in his place, but he really embraced his circumstances and moved on. Thankfully, there were good people in his orbit to support him!

      Thanks for visiting today. Stay warm!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. My son is the age Raymond was when injured, and it breaks my heart to think of an accident stealing away the lion’s share of ones life. To make it to 74 after such a trauma is really something, though.

    Thanks for sharing, Mae. A great idea to bring out old posts. I’ve been thinking about doing that with my old reviews on Goodreads from over a decade ago, but my ego has held me back, haha.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Happy Belated Birthday!! (Sorry I’m so behind!) This is a great story – I’ve never heard this one. I’m kind of surprised that he lived as long as he did. Thanks SO much for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Sue! Thanks for the belated birthday wishes. It was a fabulous one. 🙂

      In retrospect, it is surprising Ray had a lengthy life given his injuries. All the more proof of his strong spirit. I’m glad you found the post inspiring!

      Liked by 1 person

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