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Hello - good to talk to everyone again! It's been an interesting March here at The Grove; I tell you, life has quite a sense of humor. Sometimes I think that it really enjoys messing with me. Case in point - on the evening of Saturday, March 10th, Tami and I decided to go ahead and get the house tour-ready for Sunday morning. It's usually a two-hour ordeal before the tour, so we thought that if we did as much as possible in advance, we could sleep in a little later in the morning. Well, we did just that. In fact, I didn't get up until 9 AM. I went ahead and grabbed my shower, figuring that I'd be left with a full hour-and-a-half to relax, drink some coffee, and maybe just chill out on the front porch for a while. At 9:45 I was meandering around the house, enjoying the fact that we were almost ready at such an early time, when I walked through the parlor. I saw some movement out of the front door window, and realized that were a couple of people walking around outside. I couldn't imagine why they were here for the tour over an hour early... and then it dawned on me - daylight savings time came early this year. I quickly woke up Tami, and our house was almost like that scene from the movie "Home Alone" when they realized they'd overslept. We were both running around like crazy, putting the finishing touches on things! After the tour was over, we just sat down and had a good laugh; as for sleeping in, you know what they say about the best plans of mice and men.
There was also a hallmark moment for The Grove this month. On March 24th there was a marker dedication that was held at Excelsior House Hotel for the four historical markers in Jefferson awarded by the Texas Historical Commission during 2006, and one of them was for The Grove. That's right - the marker's mounted on the front of the house, and we're official! It doesn't really help us, since there are no tax breaks or financial benefits, but the recognition for the Stilley family who built the house, and the Young family who lived here for almost 100 years, is priceless. We're so proud for them. The next time that you visit The Grove, you'll see the historical marker beside the door. Thanks to all who offered their support during the process of getting it.
The city seems to be booming right now. There are three new restaurants going in, a culinary store opening its doors on the main drag through town, and for all you Beauty & The Book fans, Kathy is moving her shop to a new location on north Polk Street. There are several new shops that have opened up on Walnut Street - Jefferson seems to be experiencing a growth explosion.
For all you treasure-hunters, April 7th is the semi-annual city-wide garage sale. I'm looking forward to making the rounds; everyone who's been on The Grove tour knows exactly what I'm looking for, and maybe I'll find it this time!
We also have the Outlaw Nationals Rod Run & Antique Car Show on the weekend of April 20th. I always love walking around downtown and looking at all of the automobiles. You just can't help but be fascinated by the display - street after street of vintage cars. The owners are all hanging around their cars, and they're more than willing to answer any questions about the vehicles and how they restored them. Last year we saw a delightful old beauty that was parked in front of the General Store, and in talking to the owners, found out that they'd discovered it sitting in a pasture with a small tree growing through the driver's side floorboard. When they got through with it, though, you never could have imagined that!
The month of April is going to be a lot of fun, if we can just make it past the 15th... tax day!
Ah, now for the monthly installment of ghost stories. We've had some interesting things happen in March; some very subtle, and some that were extremely interesting.
If you've toured The Grove, you know that one of the first places that we talk about in the house is the northwest corner of the parlor. On one of our tours this month, a young lady walked over and stood in that corner at the start of the tour, not realizing that I would be focusing on it when I talked about the supernatural things that we experience in that room. After the tour she came up to me and said, "I wasn't surprised to hear what you had to say about the room. As soon as I stepped into that corner, I felt like something interesting was going on there, long before you started your stories!"
Most things don't happen on the tour, though. On one particular evening this month, I was waiting for a friend of ours to stop by. I'd been waiting on the front porch, and after half an hour went by, I figured that he'd been detained by guests at his B&B or something similar. I walked back through the game room and down the hall, going into the kitchen. Tami said, "Where's Mike?" I stepped into the den - the new room - and told her that Mike hadn't shown up yet. She just stared at me for a minute, and said that when she saw me through the French door windows of the den, there was a figure walking behind me - although no one was there. As it turns out, there's another interesting aspect to this story. An independent film-making team spent a couple of days taping here the last week of the month, and they interviewed Tami and I, along with Patrick Hopkins, the previous owner of The Grove. As Patrick was telling some of his stories, one of the accounts that he gave was of someone filming him walking around the house with another person, but when the tape was viewed, there was a shadowy figure following along behind them - just like Tami saw with me!
I love to pass along the stories of things that happen on the tours, and this month we had a couple of interesting things occur. One lady had someone pulling on her blouse in the den while I was telling some of the ghost stories in that room, which freaked her out enough. Another woman, however, yelled out and scared everyone on the tour. She said that for the last several minutes she'd felt someone playing with her hair in back, which she assumed was her husband. She must have thought that it was sweet, and when she turned to smile at him, he was taking a photo with both hands on the camera. No one else was around them, so whoever had been playing with her hair was some unseen entity. While it startled her, it has become my new favorite story for that room.
My final story for the month is kind of personal to Tami and I. There's a ton of people who believe in the supernatural when it comes to humans, but get a little fuzzy when it comes to talking about the spirits of animals. The Native American religions all speak of animal spirits, and if you've read "Haunted Encounters: Personal Stories of Departed Pets," which is a book I edited a couple of years ago, you know that I've had such experiences. Tami had something interesting - and very touching - happen this month concerning one of our bassets that has moved along from this world. We've had basset hounds throughout our marriage: Fred for 14 years, Murphy & Samantha for 13 years, and Lilly & Delaney for the rest (I tell people that our lives together will be measured in bassets). One thing that all of our dogs have done here at The Grove is to put their noses to the cracks in the floor and sniff, trying to pick up a cat or whatever else is under the house. Well, Tami had gone into our bedroom where the door was shut so that it would cool down for the evening, when she heard a sniffing under the door. She figured that either Lilly or Delaney had followed her, and wanted in. As she walked to the door, the sniffing continued, along with a scratching like whichever dog it was wanted in. She opened the door expecting to see Lilly or Delaney, but the stairwell was empty. She walked back into the den and saw that both dogs were fast asleep in their beanbags. We're not sure who came back for a visit... Fred, Murphy, or Samantha, but the fact remains that an unseen basset had paid a visit to use here at The Grove. I wish that they would come back more often!
Well, that's it for the first quarter of 2007. The year is zipping by, but we're having a great time. It's time for some April showers, so I hope that everyone gets all the rain that we need to get through the Summer, without any of the nasty winds, hail, or tornadoes that sometimes show up with showers from time to time.
If you enjoy true ghost stories about haunted places, you may
want to check out a new book that I contributed to named
"Ghostly Tales From America's Jails." It has stories of haunted
jails around the country, many that you can visit, and even
sleep in (yep, there's a haunted jail that's been turned into a
B&B). I wrote two chapters in the book, and many of my friends
are in there as well – including well-known ghost hunters like
Troy Taylor, Olyve Abbot, and Joan Upton Hall (who edited the
book). For more info, go to:
- it's a great book for anyone interested in the paranormal.
I can also recommend "HealthBoogie.com", a great source for
health information... especially for those of us who are growing
older, but not up!
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