www.thegrove-jefferson.com                          April 2007                                      ISSN 1558-3252

This is a tiny little free subscription ezine for friends of The Grove - it is by request only. In other words, we NEVER arbitrarily add email addresses. We also NEVER sell or share email addresses with anyone else, for any reason at any time. We hate SPAM as much as you do!

I hope that everyone's been enjoying the April showers - we've been getting quite a few, and they're doing wonders for The Grove's garden. The day lilies and tiger lilies are already starting to sprout. Of course, we also had a cold snap... who could have envisioned a freeze in April!?! Crazy weather, but we're enjoying the cool air. It's going to be hot and humid soon enough.

Before we delve into this month's GroveZine, I have to apologize in advance - I know that it's running a little long this month. I've edited and edited, but it still has a little more length than I'd like. I finally just decided to send it out as is, and ask for your indulgence. I promise to try to cut back some for next month; thanks for understanding... there's just so much to report!

You know that I'm a writer, and I appreciate all the kind comments about my books that I've heard from you folks over the years. If you have a ghost story to tell, then here's a chance for you to be in an upcoming book about Texas Ghosts. Atriad Press is starting a series with the working title, "True Tales of Texas Ghosts", and the first two volumes are "Living in a Haunted House" and "Ghosts in the Workplace". You can get all the details at the website www.atriadpress.com by clicking on the "Submissions" button. It's a great chance to have your true ghost story published, so be sure to check it out.

Before diving into the ezine, I need to give a special thanks to Erick and Veronica for sending me video of the story that I told last ezine about the lady who felt someone playing with her hair during the Grove tour in the den (see last month's ezine). Erick was actually not taking a photo as I'd assumed, but was instead rolling video. They sent me the clip, and it was fun to watch it and re-live it again. That event has become one of my favorite stories in that room.

Oh, and for all you paranormal enthusiasts, I need to mention the upcoming San Antonio Conference - "The Texas Paranormal Round-Up: A Paranormal Retreat Texas-Style". While it does cost a buck or two to attend, it contains three days of speakers, off-site investigations, and it's held in the wonderfully historic (and haunted) Menger Hotel just a block from the river walk. I'll be speaking on the second day, but to be honest, I'm humbled to be on the same slate with many of these speakers. They've assembled a group of extremely prestigious and knowledgeable speakers that I'm looking forward to hearing. This one can't be missed, so start saving up for one heck of an August event. All the details are at: http://www.gctmpromotions.com/events.htm (click on the Alamo to see what all it includes!)

And finally, before we get to the next section, I have to twist off for a moment. Every now and then I'll recommend a movie or a recipe or something completely off topic - I have to quickly go down that road once again. Although it's been out for two years, we finally got around to renting the movie "Elizabethtown". Since it was labeled a romantic comedy, I was a little "iffy" about watching it... I have to say, though, that it was one of the most enjoyable (and possibly inspiring) movies that I've seen in a while. Take it for a spin if you get a chance - we loved it!

In a previous ezine I mentioned the fact that Jefferson is getting a McDonalds, and it is a work in progress. I was driving up Hwy 59 a week or so ago, and passed the construction site. There was a water geyser shooting up about twenty feet in the air, and I wondered what was going on. Since everyone there was walking around like nothing was wrong, I assumed that this was a planned activity - perhaps a fountain that was being put in for the restaurant. Still, it was a little odd; the geyser was erupting like "Old Faithful" that we'd seen in Yellowstone a few years before. When I finally got home, a friend called and asked whether we had water or not. We did, but as it turned out, only for a little while. The folks over at McDonald's had broken a water main, and everything on our half of town was affected. Mickey D's managed to to cripple the city of Jefferson... water-wise, anyway. Thankfully, it was only a short ordeal... a small price to pay for being able to grab a bacon/egg biscuit in the morning.

The weekend of the 20th-22nd was the annual Rod Run here in town, and we always love walking up and down the streets admiring the vintage cars. We started out with breakfast at The Bakery, a morning favorite for us, so the day was already off to a good start. I eat the "Pancake Sandwich" there, which isn't a sandwich at all, just a heaping plate of incredible food. Afterward we walked off some of our meal by checking out the cars. There were 230 antique/vintage cars entered this year, so the event just keeps growing - put it on your 2008 calendar, because it should be even bigger next year.

Jefferson's Historic Pilgrimage and Tour of Homes is just around the corner; it takes place the first weekend in May. Not only will the homes be beautiful, but you can also see the "Diamond Bessie" play back in its original location: the Ruth Lester Playhouse (I'll be playing a juror in a couple of performances). That's not the only play in town, though. if you're coming to Pilgrimage, I'd also HIGHLY recommend "Texian Woman", a one-woman play by Marcia Thomas about the life of Harriet Potter. Harriet was represented in her trial against her husband's estate by Amos Morrill, the first owner of The Grove property. The former owner told us that he believes she came to call on the honorable Morrill at The Grove during the trial. Whether that's true or not, "Texian Woman" is a fabulous production. Be sure to catch it during Pilgrimage - seating is limited, so call 903-665-2310 for reservations or more info.

Finally, I have to break some exciting news. We've been keeping it secret because of the People Magazine debacle that happened in 2005; those of you who've been reading the GroveZine since then will certainly remember it. If not, go back and read the October & November 2005 ezines from the archive. Basically, People Mag sent a reporter here to do a story on the Grove for a piece on folks who live in haunted houses. We were interviewed and photographed for hours, and were then told the date that we would be in the magazine. We then proceeded to tell EVERYONE that we knew about it, including our acquaintances in town, our relatives around the country, and of course, all of our friends that read the GroveZine. What happened? Well, the great woman Rosa Parks died, and they took a few pages off of the ghost story to devote to her life history. Of course, the tales of our ghosts pale in comparison to her accomplishments, but it might of been nice if they'd called us to clue us in on the situation... embarrassed doesn't begin to adequately cover it. So I should know better, but here we go again: Home & Garden Television (HGTV) has a show called "If Walls Could Talk", and we applied for it and after a lengthy interview process, were chosen to be one of their locations. On April 18th their crew spent the entire day filming at The Grove, and were particularly interested in the history of Charlie Young, the barber that owned the house from 1885-1939 (he also visited the daughter of a friend who was staying with us, and on a separate occasion, delivered a shaving brush to me one day). It was a very enjoyable day, and we were told that it will air on HGTV sometime late this summer. Stay tuned - I'll keep you posted; and at least this time, you won't have to go out and spend $$ on a magazine!

The first ghost story that I have for you this month isn't a ghost story at all... it's "the strange case of the popcorn popper!" (cue the melodramatic music). I spend the majority of my time here at The Grove. I live here, I work here all day long, I sleep here, so I'd bet that out of every 168 hours in a week, I'm here at the house 164 of them. That means I get to hear all the creaks and crackles of living in a 146-year-old house. For that reason, I try to look for rational explanations for everything that happens here. Many things I can explain away, but those that defy explanation become the really interesting ones. For a long time now, I've been occasionally finding an antique popcorn popper in various places around the front parlor. It's one of those with a cage and a handle that's meant to be used in a fireplace, and we keep it propped up against the mantle in the formal parlor of the house. Many times, especially right before a tour, I've found it laying on the parlor floor - away from the mantle. I've been trying to explain this for quite a while, so I haven't gone on about it in the GroveZine and I don't talk about it on the tours - I've been looking for a clear indication one way or the other as to what was really happening. I recently got my explanation. We've had one of those robotic vacuums called "Roomba" that you see advertised on TV for quite some time. In fact, we wore our first one out, and I bought Tami a new one for Christmas last year. It's about 4 to 5 inches tall, circular, and about a foot in diameter. You wouldn't believe what an awesome job it does (and I'm not saying that because I own stock in the company or anything - it's just that good). It vacuums a room, remembering where it's been, and covers every square inch. Before a tour a weekend or so ago, I happened to be straightening up in the dining room when Roomba was vacuuming in the parlor. I heard a crash, and looked over to see that it had knocked down the popcorn popper. As it continued to vacuum in that area, it was slowly pushing it out to the center of the room. I finally had my answer - it wasn't one of the spirits of the Grove that was moving the popcorn popper around... it was our little robot Roomba!

Getting to real ghosts, though, on the third of this month, a Tuesday, something happened again that I've run across several times. It was the middle of the afternoon, and I was outside working in the garden, when I heard the heavy scraping of furniture being moved in the house. I just smiled and shook my head - I'd heard that noise many times. About a year ago, I was standing out on the front porch waiting for a friend to pick me up, and from inside the house I heard the sound of heavy objects being moved around. It was so distinct that I hurried back inside, only to find that everything was in its place - I honestly expected to see some of the furniture moved from their usual positions. While I've heard this in the house on several occasions, my favorite story along these lines comes from a lady named Kathy who used to be our gardener. A few years ago she told us that she was taking a rest from yard work, and heard things being moved around in the area of the parlor. She used her key to look inside, but everything was in its place. As much as we loved her, Kathy no longer works at The Grove. I think that the place genuinely creeps her out. That noise is something that I can't explain - everyone who's heard it says that it's the unmistakable sound of the parlor furniture being pushed across the floor, although upon inspection, nothing has been moved. Back in the 1990s, before we purchased The Grove, the people on one of the early Jefferson Ghost Walks heard something similar while they were in the house, and Jodi Breckenridge tells me that a chair actually skidded across the parlor floor; on that occasion, people saw it happen. I don't mind the spirits moving furniture - if we could just convince them to dust under the pieces when they did.

Speaking of Jodi, I know that a lot of GroveZine readers have taken her Jefferson Ghost Walk, but if you haven't, be sure to make it part of your Jefferson trip. We've been on ghost walks from San Francisco on the west coast to Georgetown, Virginia on the East and many places in between - Jodi's is one of the best that we've ever been on, and I don't just say that because we live here in town. It's really a lot of fun.

Finally, you know how much I enjoy including stories from visitors to The Grove. During the tour on April 14th, I started out by talking about the man in the garden that we see occasionally. As I was telling the story, two ladies looked at each other and laughed. One explained to me that they had parked on the driveway, and were sitting in the car getting ready for the tour. One of them was reading a book, and out of the corner of the eye she thought that she saw a man walking by. She told me that it was a feeling as much as something that she saw, but it was so real that she figured I'd come out to the car to tell her that it was time for the tour. She was parked in the area of the original log cabin that was built on The Grove property before the current house was erected in 1861, and apparently experienced the garden guy just having a stroll by - all before she heard anything about him! I just love hearing those stories from our guests.

You made it through this month's GroveZine, and I sincerely appreciate the fact that you did so, even though it was running a little long. I enjoyed getting to share everything, including the furniture-moving stories that I still can't explain, and the man-in-the-garden story that I can (we've seen him enough to know that he's real).

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