Something Frightening Happened to My Mom at Higginbotham Park in the 90s
I grew up in the Rush district in a house across the street from Frank Higginbotham Park. It was a great place to be a kid. We could walk out of the front door and be at the park in a matter of seconds. Nearly every time another child from the neighborhood came over to play, we would head straight over there. We'd sell lemonade to runners, catch frogs, go fishing, and swing on the swings for hours.
It was the 90s, and the setting sun and streetlights told us when it was time to head home.
I have a lot of great memories there. Now, as an adult, I go running there a couple of times a week. But every single time I pass the park's public restroom, I tense up. There are things that never leave you, no matter how many times you try to forget them.
Something scary happened there in the late 90s that my family will probably never get over.
My mom used to walk around the park every day. She loved to put on a big pair of headphones, strap her Walkman to her hip, and get some exercise in the evening. Sometimes we would play at the park while she walked the track. Sometimes she would go alone.
This time was the latter of the two.
She set out for a walk, listening to a book on tape. We didn't have podcasts and music streaming apps back then. It was the old-fashioned stuff. Listening to stories and walking was her favorite way to decompress. Honestly, just listening to her headphones was her escape from dealing with a bunch of naughty kids. She always had the volume totally maxed out, and I clearly remember overhearing Pet Sematary and other various horror stories when I was little just by sitting next to her on the couch in the evening.
So there she was, walking around the track like she did every evening. She reached the area near the public restroom and something caught her attention. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed a man standing just inside the women's room. She made eye contact with him and he began walking out of the bathroom. She immediately realized that his pants and underwear were pulled completely down. He yelled something at her, but her cassette was on full blast and she couldn't hear anything. Then, he started walking toward her.
He had been waiting in the women's room for someone to come in.
She looked around and realized there was no one else near her walking. She later told me that she couldn't believe there wasn't a soul around. Nobody to yell 'Oh my God! That man has no pants on and he was hiding in the women's room.'
The man began walking toward her quickly. She panicked and took off running. These were the days before everyone had a cell phone. She bolted to the closest house and banged on the door. An old woman answered and she begged her to use the phone to call 911 to report the man.
At this point, he had already retreated back into the women's restroom and out of sight.
The police arrived and found him there, lying in wait. He was arrested, and it was later found that he was a registered sex offender.
My friends and I had used the public restroom together many times. I'd even been to it alone. It was just a bathroom. We weren't afraid of it. Never in a million years would we have expected someone to be lurking there, just waiting for us to come in.
My mother never walked alone at the park again, and we were instructed to never go back into that bathroom or any other public park restroom alone. She was completely distraught. We moved away not long after it happened for unrelated reasons, but I think my mom was relieved to live somewhere more private.
I didn't tell you this story to scare you away from going to my favorite park or to even scare you away from using a public restroom. It's only a cautionary tale and a reminder to parents that let their children run around the park unsupervised. Bad things can happen in good places. It's always good to have a buddy with you, and it's definitely a good idea to keep your cell phone on you in case of an emergency.
There are currently 613 registered sex offenders in Lubbock.