Spooky urban legend debunkedGrowing up just kitty-corner from the parking lot of St. Patrick’s Church in downtown Dickinson, I was allowed a certain freedom in my travels.
By: John Odermann The Dickinson Press, Worthington Daily Globe
Growing up just kitty-corner from the parking lot of St. Patrick’s Church in downtown Dickinson, I was allowed a certain freedom in my travels.
“No further north than Berg and no further south than M&H,” my mother would say. And after I heard the story of Joe Pipe from an older sibling, I didn’t even want to go as far as M&H.
Joe Pipe, as he is known today, was just your average, run-of-the-mill oil field worker in the early 80s, who had come from out west to strike it rich in the oil patch. He’d work on the rigs and then come into Dickinson to spend his hard-earned cash. Pipe even found a local girl with whom he had fallen in love with.
When the oil bust occurred shortly after he arrived, Pipe found himself jobless and far away from home, but in love. The only employment he could find was as the night watchman at Western Cooperative Credit Union. At the time, the bank was located downtown across the street from M&H.
Pipe would go to work every night and sit with his shotgun in his shed behind the bank, one day hoping he could save up enough money to ask his girlfriend to marry him.
On the day Pipe had enough money to buy a ring, he excitedly went to her place to pop the question, only to find her in bed with another man. In a passionate rage, he murdered them both.
The state psychiatrist at the time stated Pipe, upon seeing his girlfriend with another man, suffered a mental breakdown, sending him over the edge and making him unfit to stand trial.
After a period of treatment at the state hospital in Jamestown, Pipe was deemed sane enough to be released and was given an experimental drug to calm occasional shakiness. The only side-effect was that, when taken, the medicine would stiffen Pipe’s muscles and he would stand still like a statue.
Upon his return to Dickinson, Pipe resumed his duties as night watchman.
Three mean-spirited high school students, looking for an easy laugh soon made Pipe a target of late-night harassment.
The teenagers would pull into the parking lot behind the bank and flash their brights into the windows of Pipe’s shed.
That is, until the night Pipe was waiting for them. Two of the three teenagers were never found.
When asked what happened to his friends, the third teenager swears to this day, “Pipe got them, Pipe got them.” No evidence ever turned up to connect Pipe to the missing teenagers.
To this day, you can still see Pipe sitting in his shed, behind the bank waiting for some foolish teenagers to drive by in the middle of the night and flash their lights.
The real Joe Pipe
Scary story, right? I thought so too as a second grader at St. Patrick’s Elementary School. Too bad not an ounce of it is true.
Joe Pipe was something of a coming-of-age experience for several high school students in Dickinson. An upper classman or friend who has heard the story would take an unsuspecting individual to the alley between what is now Stevenson’s Funeral Home and Dacotah Bank.
Once there, the legend of Pipe would be told with the headlights off and the car pointed at the shed’s window. Then the lights of the vehicle are turned on showing the silhouette of Pipe standing with a shotgun ready to kill again.
Too bad Western Cooperative Credit Union never had a night watchman, at least not in a shed out in the back alley.
Pipe’s shed is an MDU natural gas compression site. The alleged silhouette of Pipe? Simply the compression equipment as you shine your headlights in the window.
Sadly enough, the Legend of Joe Pipe may have died in 2007 after Dacotah Bank’s remodeling. Bank president Jeff Moore said he had never heard of Joe Pipe but nonetheless the sides of the MDU shed with Pipe’s windows were covered by a fence for aesthetic reasons.
A man who haunted Dickinson teens for two decades has returned for one day in the pages of this newspaper, but will likely never see the light of day ... or of headlights again.