www.thegrove-jefferson.com                          October 2006                                      ISSN 1558-3252

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Hello everyone, and happy Halloween! I can't believe that it's already October, but I guess that I've been complaining all year about how fast time flies. It's going to be Christmas before we know it... and The Grove is on the Candlelight Tour of Homes! Oh my... as if I didn't have enough to worry about.

The Garage Sale weekend here in town went well, as did the Taste of Jefferson. We also just had the "Boo Run", which is a weekend for motorcycle enthusiasts to benefit burn victim survivors - the town was packed. Things have been jumping here in Jefferson, and probably won't slow down for a while.

By the way, I know that everyone wants to hear the latest ghost stories, but I've occasionally included an odd entry here and there: a recipe, a book recommendation, etc., so this time I thought that I'd mention a DVD that we rented. Tami and I watched a movie last night that I thought was excellent - it is called "The Island," and stars Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson. It's a sci/fi thriller set about ten years in the future, but I could definitely see something like it happening one of these days. Check it out!

Well, the big news in town is the football team. With only one loss all season long, the town's got football fever. Caught up in the spirit of things, some group had a tee-shirt printed up to honor our new athletic director, Coach Hale - the shirt was supposed to be emblazoned with "Hale, Yeah!" (you get the obvious pun). Unfortunately, no one proofread the copy, so the affirmative "yeah" was instead printed as the cheer, "yea!". There are people running around all over town wearing a shirt that says, "Hale yea!" - which doesn't have the connotation of the original pun.

I love it - I'm really not laughing at them, I'm laughing with them. When I finish a book, I've read it several times, Tami's gone through it, along with a few friends that I trust as readers. After that, the publisher puts it through content editing, then another pass for line editing, and before it goes to press many, many eyes have been on it. Still, on the first release there are still obvious, glaring errors. If you've read "Ghosts of East Texas and the Pineywoods," for example, only by the third edition have most of the problems been corrected. As soon as I get a first copy of a new book, I'm horrified by some of the errors that I find; when I'm at a booksigning, I want to say, "hey, as long as I have a pen, can I correct a mistake on page 55?" I'm sure that whoever did the tee-shirt is wanting to add that final "h" whenever he or she sees someone wearing it.

Speaking of writing, I'm part of a new book being released next month called "Ghostly Tales of America's Jails," which is edited by a friend of mine, Joan Upton Hall. Joan invited me to write a couple of chapters for the book; I got to read a preliminary copy, and it's great. There are stories from haunted prisons across the country, including some places that are now open to tourists that I've already put on our "must-visit" list. I'll keep you posted as to a release date - I think that it's going to be a fantastic book.

One more thing to pass on to you - there's a new tour house in Jefferson: Singleton's Virginia Cross. It's an old Jefferson home, and its fascinating architecture and rich history make it a wonderful place to visit. You can check out tour times and a few photos at: http://www.virginiacross.com/ - be sure to include it in your plans for your next trip to Jefferson.

You've heard me talk about the "Garden Guy" - the suited fellow that we see out in the garden of The Grove. The closest he's ever come to being inside the house is on the side gallery, which used to be an open porch. I guess that he's comfortable in there, since it used to be open to the garden. Otherwise, we've never seen him in the house. He last showed up a couple of weeks ago on the evening of October 5th on a Thursday night. I was in Georgetown, TX, speaking to a group of writers. Tami was in the kitchen, talking to a girlfriend on the telephone. She opened the door to the side gallery, and standing there was a man in a black suit - she was so startled that she yelled out, of course, and just as she did he slowly faded away. Like I've said before, the house doesn't scare us, but there are things that startle us occasionally. Later in the evening when she was telling me what happened, I felt kind of reassured - I figured that he knew that I was gone, and was just looking in on Tami to make sure that she was all right.

Also this month, I heard someone describe something that I experience quite often: corner people. In our house, we often see people out of the corner of our eyes as we're going about daily business - for example, I'll turn my head just in time to see someone step through a doorway, or vanish entirely. It happens so much to my wife and I that I can't dispute it... and I've heard other people say the same things about haunted places. Recently I heard a very interesting explanation for that phenomenon. One expert theorizes that the way that the "rods and cones" are set up in our eyes, we are particularly sensitive to movement in our peripheral vision. This goes back to our tribal hunter days, where we would be tipped off if an animal was suddenly attacking us from the side. If that's true, it certainly explains a lot about the figures that are reported out of the corners of our eye. You can read an article about it at: http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/vision/rodcone.html

Now for more late-breaking news - did Charlie Young, a town barber and owner of The Grove from 1885-1939, come back for a visit the last weekend in October? Maybe so... I was doing a tour on the evening of Saturday, October 28th, for a multi-family group of eleven people. As I was doing the tour, I got to the place where I show the photo of former owner Charlie Young, and when I did, everyone started squealing and screaming. They'd been waiting out on the porch for the 9 PM tour (we had tours all day on the weekend before Halloween), and they noticed a small African-American man walking in front of the house. He seemed to come from nowhere, and after he passed the front of the house, he simply wasn't there anymore. They all thought that it was very strange, but when they saw Charlie's photo, they recognized him immediately. We know everyone in the neighborhood, and there's no one around who looks like Charlie, and certainly no one that wears a white suit like he did. They even saw his white hair. I'm really getting bummed about this - it might be the second time that Charlie showed up around The Grove, and he has yet to let me see him!

EVP, or Electronic Voice Phenomena, is the capturing of mysterious voices or sounds on an audio recording that were not audible when the recording was made. Some people attribute these things to the idea that spirits find it easier to create noise that is inaudible to the human ear, but which can be picked up by recording devices, which can detect a much wider audible range. On Saturday, October 21, 2006, Ken Strong was taking The Grove tour, and as the group was moving from the Parlor to the Dining Room Ken had a voice recorder on. He recorded a little over three minutes, and just before turning it off, he captured a very ethereal whisper. You can hear it by clicking the link below. In the recording, you can hear me talking about Frank and Minerva Stilley, the couple who built The Grove in 1861; I say, "Frank and Minerva lived here for about twenty years, raised two sons here, and then something terrible happened...". As I talk, the floors are creaking as everyone moves to the dining room, and you can hear a whispered voice over it all that says something phonetically sounding like "Ah - Eee - Uh-ah". I have no idea what is actually being said, so if you have any ideas, please let us know! Here's the link:


As I said before, Happy Halloween! I hope that you're having a wonderful fall. Don't forget that The Grove will be on the Candlelight Tour of Homes here in Jefferson the first two weekends in December. Come see us!

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