Many who have been around Murfreesboro for long know at least one of them, but no one, not even the owners, have any idea where they sprang from.
It is the legend or the curse, some might say, of Davis Market.
The unassuming convenience store has stood at the corner of East Main Street and Middle Tennessee Boulevard, just off the MTSU campus for at least 65 years, said Christine Stephens, who owns the store with her husband T.L. The market has been in Christine’s family for that many years.
If you have heard of Davis Market, then likely you have heard of the curse. There are many variations on the tale, but one widely told is that if you go into the market then you will die in Murfreesboro. And, the only way to break the curse is to urinate on the obelisk on Old Lascassas Highway that marks the center of the state of Tennessee.
Also, it is said to be the center of the universe.
Some even say the back freezer is a hellmouth.
Jennifer Cathey, who graduated from MTSU in ’03, has vivid memories of being told of the legends her freshman year of college.
She heard a local resident telling another freshman that he was cursed to die in Murfreesboro because he went into Davis Market to buy some chips and a soda.
“Apparently, another rumor was that Buddhist monks made a trip to Murfreesboro in the ‘60s and declared Davis Market the center of the universe,” she said.
Other rumors have the Grateful Dead bestowing that honor.
Glenda Langford heard the rumors when she was attending MTSU in the early ‘80s. And, she and many others, it seems, believe them just like you do other silly superstition.
“I remember riding with a friend when I first started at MTSU and being told that if I ever went in the store, I would find my way back to living in Murfreesboro because it is the center of the universe,” she said. “Of course, I went in the store anyways and didn’t really believe them. I was raised in Lebanon and after MTSU, I moved to Orlando, Nashville, Lebanon and now back to Murfreesboro and been here five years.”
Langford never planned to move back to Murfreesboro.
Shea Brock, a lifelong Murfreesboro resident, always heard the rumors of Davis Market growing up.
She tends to think that the curse is true, sort of.
“Either that or Murfreesboro’s charm brings people back,” Brock said.
Davis Market was originally Adams and Davis Market until Gary Davis Sr. bought out his partner, Christine can’t recall the date now. She has been involved with the market since 1966, having married Davis Sr.’s son before he died 15 years ago.
“I always promised my father-in-law that I would never sell the store,” Christine said of why she held on to the market over the years. “A lot of things have changed but we are still here.”
Now T.L. primarily runs the shop.
But Christine and T.L. do enjoy their time working at the market that now primarily sells cigarettes, beer, soft drinks and snacks. They get to know many customers by name and even develop relationships with the students who frequent the market.
“We actually miss everybody,” Christine said. “When they graduate, they bring in their diplomas to show us they finally made it.”
Christine doesn’t pay much heed to the legends. Every once in a while though someone will come in and ask questions about them.
T.L. said sometimes MTSU students will come in to the market laughing and saying they just urinated on the obelisk to break the curse of the Davis Market. He once got a call from a man in Japan wanting to know if they could ship him a keychain from the store.
Also, now and again customers will want to purchase something and will do their transaction from outside the door because they don’t want to fall victim to the curse.
Christine said what’s odd about the market is that sometimes at night items will suddenly be misplaced on shelves. She remembered a strange occurrence that happened five years ago. Suddenly, she said the store’s calculator began running numbers and items started flying off the shelves.
Sometimes at night, T.L. said he can hear doors slamming, and he isn’t sure where the noises are coming from.
“It does get pretty spooky in here if you are here at night,” he said.
They both stopped short, however, at saying they think the market is haunted.
Some legends say though that Davis Market sits on or is near an American Indian burial ground. The Stephens don’t know if there is any truth to those rumors either.
Erin Edgemon can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.