When I was a child, my family moved from Houston, Texas to a farm just east of Lebanon, TN. It was culture shock in reverse; as big city gal whose family wore black clothing, and our favorite foods were unpronounceable to the new neighbors (ke-suh-dee-ya we’d say, only to be corrected that that in fact, it was ke-suh-dil-luh), I was always kind of an outcast. It allowed me to sit back and watch things though, and I was fascinated by one of my new classmates; Sterling Buster.
In my memory, Sterling Buster was the size of a pro wrestler at the age of six. His sheer height could block the sun, and I would watch him in reverence. At the time, Lebanon had a quiet, high-brow antiques circuit, and the very finest of them was at Cuz’s Antiques on the Lebanon Square. When I found out that Sterling’s family owned Cuz’s, I couldn’t have been more pleased. Cuz’s was the kind of place where you would walk in and see a stuffed tiger lunging toward a mounted elephant head, with deep red velvet Victorian sofas and Victrolas as the audience. It had the most distinct smell of warm dust, and when the afternoon sun would shine through the enormous storefront windows, you could see all the tiny particles dancing through the air.
My mom collected old compacts so each week after church we made the antiques rounds on the square. My life changed on one Sunday in 1996 when I first saw The Head at Cuz’s, and heard about the Legend of Sugar Flat Road.
According to Legend, in 1989 two guys were out driving on Sugar Flat Road off Trousdale Ferry, a place that is to this day dominated by farms and nothingness, when they hit something. To their surprise, they had run over what appeared to be a yeti. They had the head taxidermied and Cuz’s ended up with it a few years after. It was on display in the format that you see above with the handwritten sign saying, “Is this an alien,” that invites you to draw your own conclusion on what the fur covered head could be.
Sadly, Cuz’s closed it’s doors last year, but the mysterious Legend of Sugar Flat Road lives on. The Head was auctioned and moved to Chattanooga, where it was displayed in a small place called the Curiosity Shoppe until last year. It’s not clear where the head is now, but it has been replaced by a hologram at the Curiosity Shoppe!