I’m a bit of a contradiction. I don’t believe in vampires, werewolves, zombies or witches who fly on broomsticks, but I love the rebobs of Napa.
I grew up in an east Contra Costa County agriculture town that is ripe with ghost stories, urban legends and tall tales. My hometown has the classics: gravity hills, a haunted slaughterhouse allegedly home to a satanic cult and roaming spirits who met violent demises and are unaware that they are dead.
But one thing my hometown doesn’t have is the urban legend of a mad scientist who allegedly created half-man, half-apes with wings who terrorize anyone who dares to trespass in their stomping grounds on Partrick Road. The story changes depending on who you hear it from, but they all describe creatures similar to the flying monkeys from “The Wizard of Oz.”
I love stories involving the paranormal, even if they give me the willies. So imagine my surprise when I learned about the rebobs two years ago when I took this job at the Napa Valley Register.
Napa has been a big part of my life for that past eight years because my husband grew up here and lived here when we were first dating. He took me up Partrick Road nearly a year into our relationship, but there was no mention of rebobs. How do you leave out the rebobs?
I remember our drive on Partrick Road quite distinctly, so I decided to rehash it the other night while we were at dinner. I was drinking a brightly-colored beverage called a Green Apple Goblin, so it seemed like the right time to broach the topic.
“Why would you take me up Partrick Road,” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he replied. “It was something to do, I guess.”
In one version of the rebob legend, rebobs prey on young lovers who park on Partrick Road for some secluded hanky panky. Apparently, rebobs love to feast of the flesh of starry-eyed lovers lost in lust.
For the record, this is not why Chuck and I went up there. We were driving around, killing time before a movie, when we went from cruising well-lit streets to driving on a narrow road draped in darkness and lined with dense foliage.
Naturally, I asked where we were going, and all Chuck would say was “You’ll see.” So up the windy road we went. I didn’t mind until the road was suddenly coated in a carpet of fog and the wind seemed to have picked up dramatically. As our car crept up the road, I swore I saw the headlights reflected off something, like the eyes of a deer, maybe. I didn’t know where we were going, but it wasn’t a place for visitors of the human variety.
By the time we made it to the gate, I was both nervous and underwhelmed. We sat there, watching shadows wash over what appeared to be a small house just beyond the gate. Finally, Chuck told me an insane man and his family (rebobs?) were rumored to live on/haunt the property, and he thought I might want to see it since I like spooky stories.
That was all I needed to hear. I asked to be returned to civilization immediately. As a reporter, I’ve done a fair amount of trespassing, but this didn’t seem like a place to poke around. Besides, an operation like this would require some tactical gear and we didn’t even have a flashlight.
As I’ve been reading up on rebobs lately, I think about that night and smile. Was it a deer I saw … or a rebob? Some rebob legends say the creatures camouflage themselves in leaves and branches as they patrol the outskirts of the roadway. Maybe there was no wind. Maybe it was rebobs moving in the brush.
A part of me wants to return to Partrick Road now that I am armed with rebob research, but why take chances?
So this Halloween, I’ll let the Partrick Road keep its secrets. There is always next year — or never.