It is officially All Hallow’s Eve, and boy do we have a good story for you. Today’s ghost story comes from Haunted Holidays, in which celebrated storytellers Roberta Simpson Brown and Lonnie E. Brown have assembled a hair-raising collection of paranormal tales for readers of all ages. The stories present many new and spooky characters, including the deceased great aunt who still rocks in her favorite chair on Mother’s Day, the young boy who made good on his promise to return a silver dollar on the Fourth of July, and even the ghost who hated Labor Day. In addition to tales of haunting, the Browns reveal many Appalachian legends and their importance to the storytelling tradition, such as the phantom bells who guide the dead to the other side, and a “chime child” born when the clock strikes midnight on Christmas Day, who is rumored to be blessed with the gift of second sight.
Obviously, today’s story will feature the haunted remembrances of Halloween, in a work composed by the author herself, Roberta Simpson Brown:
Roberta recalls Halloweens past from her childhood days.
“Once we got past Labor Day, it felt as though one holiday fell on the heels of another. Our spirits lifted because these end-of-year holidays brought out real spirits, the spooky ones at Halloween and the inspiring ones at Thanksgiving. These holidays also brought the prospect of candy, chewing gum, and homemade goodies for trick-or-treaters at Halloween, and good food from a bountiful harvest for our Thanksgiving feast. We waited with delight for visits from relatives and friends.
On Halloween, neighbors usually gathered at someone’s house and we played games, had treats, and told scary stories. The younger children carved pumpkins, bobbed for apples, and sometimes had a costume contest. The older boys would sometimes go out on their own to do a little mischief, like turn over an outhouse or lay a log across the road. Often they would hide and then come out to move the log when somebody couldn’t get by. Naturally, they acted like someone else had done it.
The cold did not seem to bother us too much then. We liked to play hide-and-seek in the shocks of fodder that were tied up in the fields for the cattle to eat. We slid down haystacks when we could get away with it.
At night at that time of year, we told stories inside around the fire because it was too cold to sit outside. Storytellers were not “professional” then, but they were some of the most gifted we have ever heard. We also talked about superstitions that some scoffed at and others accepted as the gospel. There were unforgettable stories based on some of these superstitions.
Thanksgiving made us pause to reflect on our blessings. These were days of pumpkin and apple pies, vegetables and fresh-baked bread, and cured ham and fresh game, hunted only for the purpose of eating. The men were responsible for bringing home a wild turkey, and the women stayed up most of the night getting it ready for dinner the next day.
Some families set a place at the table for loved ones who had gone before, but all of us were mindful of how good life was and how blessed we were. We were not surprised when a spirit came to visit.
Some relatives from out of town could only come at Thanksgiving because they wanted to be with their immediate families at Christmas. The early presents they brought made the long, cold nights warm and happy. There were puzzles, card games like Old Maid and Authors, crayons and coloring books, and board games like Uncle Wiggily or checkers.
As each holiday approached, we all became eager for company. Grandma Simpson would sometimes open the door and look out if she heard a car coming.
Lonnie and I were in Russell County on business one Halloween, so I suggested that we drive back to Grandma Simpson’s old farm, where I had been born. New owners lived there, but they gave us permission to look around as long as we wanted to.
It had been many years since I had been there, and the new owners had made many changes. The cherry tree that once stood at the turn of the lane was gone. The old house had been torn down, and a huge silo stood where the house had been. The fields where Dad planted crops were now fenced pastures with cattle roaming where I once played.
As I stood looking toward the place where I had spent so many happy hours, I suddenly felt very strange. The cherry tree was there, very near to me. The silo was gone, and the house was back. I could see the trees around the yard. Then, much to my amazement, the door opened and there was Grandma Simpson, standing in the door looking out, as though she had heard our car. I wanted to run to her and go inside that house again, but when I stepped forward, the vision was gone. I was standing by the pasture fence with a big-eyed cow mooing at me.
Did I really step back in time to take one last look at my first home? Were the powers of Halloween playing tricks on me? Did Grandma’s ghost hear our car and come to greet us? I never could explain it. In any case, the memories were with me.
Memories are always with us, just as real as the experiences of the past. Remember, memories can haunt as well as people.”
To learn more about the hauntings that happen on the rest of the holidays throughout the year, click the picture below!