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Beware the curse of Davis’ Market

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T.L. Stephens owns Davis Market, along with this wife Christine. Legand has the store, and anyone who shops there, cursed. TMP/E. Edgemon
There are many legends surrounding it.

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 eedgemon@murfreebsoropost.com.

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Members Opinions:
August 30, 2010 at 12:32pm
I doubt there are any Indian burial grounds near there since there were no resident native American communities here. This area was used only for hunting, so the story goes. I grew up in the 50's and 60's four or five blocks from there, went to high school down the street and attended MTSU in the 70's and again in the 80's and never heard the "legend" until earlier this year. Since the obelisk is the geographic center of Tennessee I can see how hyperbole could expand that--but the center of the universe? I don't think any science or meta-science could support that. I do remember Murfreesboro when the MTSU student population practically doubled our population when classes were in session--at least during the weekdays.
August 30, 2010 at 12:37pm
I have lived here for 50 years and never heard any ghost tales about the place. I didn't go to MTSU, went to UT instead, so maybe that is why I never heard any of this. Probably a MTSU urban legend. I have been it the store many times since I was a kid and rode my bike there for fireworks back in the day. My grandparents bought ground Beef from Mr. Davis to sell at their store.
August 30, 2010 at 3:41pm
My young daughter needed to use the restroom badly after a trip to the doctor some years back. We stopped in Davis Market and they would not let her use the restroom. Needless to say, I have not been back in the store since and never will!
August 31, 2010 at 5:19pm
If in fact there is such a thing associated with this store it would most likely have been brought on by constant advantage that is taken of students by this establishment. One of many stories that I am aware of and was witness to is that of a young lady who purchased a half keg only to get it home to find it foamed and did not work properly. Speaking to the owner of this establishment myself since he refused to reimburse her,he stated she must have let it get warm. I was present at the purchase and saw that they had this keg already out of the cooler sitting in the store,ie the reason for the foaming no doubt. Having stated this was simply wrong to him he refused to return any money to her knowing the cost of civil court would be to costly concerning this matter. I have no doubt this was not an isolated instance and would caution anyone from this establishment.
September 03, 2010 at 8:49am
I lived down the street and frequented the market for 30 years of my 59 years in Murfreesboro. Attended MTSU in the '60's and early 70's and this is the first time I have ever heard of this. I always enjoyed getting Devil Food cakes at the market!
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