John Green recalls Miss Hazen

Front porch of Pine Hill Cottage, 1960s. If you look close you can see a dog sleeping in the right-hand corner.

Front porch of Pine Hill Cottage, 1960s. If you look close you can see a dog sleeping in the right-hand corner.

Blog post #6:

by Jane Van Ryan

“She was an attractive and well-kept lady…beautiful,” John Green said as he adjusted his fedora and reminisced about Evelyn Hazen.

John, Lucille LaBonte and I sat together on the steps of the house he rented on Mabry’s Hill overlooking Dandridge Avenue. He said he moved there in the early 1970s, but he had known his landlady Evelyn Hazen since 1962 or 1963, when she worked at the University of Tennessee and drove a 1956 white Buick.

Over the years, he had seen all sides of her personality. “She had the sweetest mouth when she wanted you to do things for her,” he recalled, but when she was angry, “her tongue would cut you like a sword.”

Evelyn frequently asked John to feed the dogs that lived in her yard.  Six were in pens on one side of her front porch, and four or five were penned on the other side. John said in the early 1980s, an intruder opened the pens on the porch’s left side, slit the dogs’ throats, hung a noose over the front door, and cut Evelyn’s telephone wire.

After that incident, Evelyn was convinced that someone wanted to harm her. John said, “She had a phobia that someone was trying to get to her, plotting against her.”

Evelyn would call John at night, claiming she had heard noises outside. She called the police frequently, but after a while, they “wouldn’t hardly come,” John said. One night at Evelyn’s insistence, he walked around her house five or six times but never found anything suspicious.

Eventually Evelyn began carrying a .32 Colt revolver with her virtually everywhere, even as she walked from room to room within her own home. She also had several lights installed around the house. At night, John said, it “was lit up like a Christmas tree.”

John confirmed Evelyn loved her animals, including the black Angus calf that wandered onto her land from the Lay Packing Company. Lucille and John said she knew it belonged to Lay’s, but she had an enclosure built and fed it for several years. When it was fully grown, John said it must have weighed “a ton.”

Needless to say, the Lay Company wanted to reclaim its steer. Evelyn held them at bay by making an unusual claim.

One day she called John and said, “That damn Lay Packing Company! Don’t you feel your house vibrate?” John told her he didn’t feel anything, so she called the police, phoned the Oak Ridge laboratory and asked for a seismograph, and then called her attorney Judge Howard Bozeman. They all showed up but found no evidence of a vibration. For the next seven years, according to Lucille, Evelyn tried to get Bozeman to sue the Lay Company.

Evelyn also stopped Knoxville from adding a lane to Dandridge Avenue, which would have required her to sell some of her property. She “raised a whole lot of sand about that,” John said.