www.thegrove-jefferson.com August 2007 ISSN 1558-3252
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A Nightmare on Moseley Street!!! Okay, it doesn't have anything to do with the spirits here, or any other supernatural happenings. Our nightmare was the fact that we started sanding the floors of a couple of the Grove's rooms. Those of you who've been on the tour over the summer know that we're re-doing the bedroom of the house, and with all the painting done, it was time to do the floors. We got a video from the floor-sander company that showed a petite little woman doing the floors in a huge room in just a couple of hours, so we figured that it would be a cake walk. What we came to discover was that our boards had warped over the years, turning up on the outside edges to make each one concave. The floor sander did the edges of the boards quite well, but couldn't get in the center part. We're therefore having to sand the center "stripe" of each board by hand, and it's a slow, laborious process. Here is your job: as a faithful reader of the GroveZine, if I ever mention re-doing a floor again in this house, please drive directly here and slap me in the back of my head to knock some sense into me! We've never experienced such a job, and it's taking an order of magnitude longer than we'd originally planned. You can see our (slow) progress in the photo.
Also, I need to give a HUGE "thank you" to everyone who answered my call for photos of some specific places around Texas. You guys really came through! The project is a book by a friend of mine, Olyve Abbott. You may have read her "Ghosts in the Graveyard" book that she did, which explores ghost stories of cemeteries around Texas. This one, "A Ghost in the Guest Room" looks at haunted B&Bs, inns, and hotels around the Lone Star State. I got a sneak peek at it, and I've got to tell you, I'm going to use it as a travel guide for our future getaways. Stay tuned for more details, and again, many, many thanks to everyone who helped out with the photos.
Things in Jefferson seem to be booming - I got an email the other day from the Chamber of Commerce, and they've had half-a-dozen ribbon cuttings on new businesses here in town, if not more! There are literally stores in town that I haven't been in yet, which I'll of course have to rectify soon. I love to see the new places opening up, because that means that with each new trip to town, you'll have undiscovered places to explore.
Well, I greet you with the news that McDonald's is open in Jefferson, and I've already been there several times. While Mickey Dee's has a breakfast sandwich that I love, it can never compete with The Bakery and the "Pancake Sandwich" that I love so much, or many of the B&Bs around town that prepare incredible breakfasts. Still, I love the Bacon/Egg/Cheese Biscuit at McDonald's, and I think that the main reason I do is the same as something that Andy Warhol observed about Coca Cola: "What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coca Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca Cola, and just think, you can drink Coca Cola, too. A coke is a coke and no amount of money can get you a better coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the cokes are the same and all the cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it." The Bacon/Egg/Cheese Biscuit tastes the same as it did at the McDonald's down the street from the place that we lived twenty years ago, so not only is it a heck of a treat, but it brings back many wonderful memories. Anyway, it looks like the McDonald's updates have finally come to an end!
At a recent city council meeting, someone mentioned something to the effect that on some nights, there was nothing to do in Jefferson after 5 PM. I couldn't help but smile when I heard that - you see, there are many B&Bs here in town with peaceful porches and rocking chairs. Many years ago before we were residents, Tami and I used to come to town as visitors - I've got to say, our favorite part of the trip was sitting out on the porch, slowly rocking and reading a book, sipping a glass of wine, and forgetting about all the stress of the everyday world... basically, greatly enjoying doing nothing. I'm thinking of launching a new ad campaign: Jefferson - there's nothing to do after 5 PM!
Actually, though, there are several things going on when the sun goes down. There's dancing at Auntie Skinners, evening carriage rides, the ghost walk, the evening train rides, and more. The city's becoming quite a thespian center as well, with two different theater groups, and of course what I consider to be the crown jewel of Jefferson's cultural side, the one-woman play "Texian Woman". I've heard great reviews for a play about Jefferson called "Bats in your Belfries" that is going on at the Bull Durham Playhouse through September 15th, and we're planning to see it in the next week or so. No matter what, if you enjoy live theater, Jefferson is quickly becoming the place to come to experience it. Watch the GroveZine, as I'll continue to report on plays that you can enjoy while you're in town.
While we have a lot of incredible events coming up this fall (visit the chamber's website for info: www.jefferson-texas.com), I have to mention Candlelight. Make your plans to come to town on one of the first two weekends of December, because it is a magical place. Everything is decorated for Christmas, there are 100 trees in the park, each decorated by a family or business, the gazebo is lighted up, and the Historic Jefferson Foundation opens the doors of four houses for tour by the public. You purchase one ticket and tour four homes, all with natural greenery, and you're led by docents in period costumes. Make your plans now (check out the Historic Jefferson Foundation website www.historicjeffersonfoundation.com for details)!
We heard an interesting tale from the Historic Jefferson Ghost Walk this month. By the way, I have to give Jodi her props - her ghost walk is a must-do while in town. She's also one of the local authorities on hauntings here in town, so you'll hear true ghost stories, not made-up hype. If you want to read a feature about it in the Marshal News-Messenger, just click here (The Grove is mentioned as well). Anyway, a week or so ago we had a couple on the tour who'd been on the ghost walk the night before, and as they were looking at the house, they say a small, red ball of light moving from the center of the porch near the ceiling to the west side. As it passed by the ceiling fan, the blades started to slowly turn. The interesting thing about it was that they looked at the ceiling fan on the east side of the porch, and it was still. If a breeze had swept through the porch, both fans should have been affected... but the west fan was turning as if something had gently stirred it.
When Chef Patrick Hopkins had a restaurant here at the house in the 1990s, he would find mirrors and pictures that had fallen off the wall, but were unharmed - as if someone had simply taken them down. That really hasn't happened to us since we've owned the house, until this month. We walked up front one evening to find a decorative china plate that usually sits on the top shelf of the parlor mantle on the floor. Now, I'm perfectly willing to buy the fact that it fell, possibly because of work that we'd been doing around the house, but that would have been at least a six-foot plunge onto the hardwood floor. I'd challenge anyone to hold a china plate six feet in the air, and then drop it onto the floor. Not to mention the fact that it's been sitting there since we brought it back from Magnolia Plantation in Charleston two years ago, and has never moved even a hair. I love doing the GroveZine in this format, because I can share photos with you. The picture that you see is one that we took as soon as we saw the plate on the floor; you can see the spill that it would have to have taken.
On the morning of August 10th, we were lying in bed waiting for the alarm to go off, and as often happens, one of the basset hounds had made her way up between us. On that particular morning it was Lilly, and she was being very still, hoping not to be noticed and banished to her bean bag. The alarm had gone off once and I'd hit snooze, so I was half-way awake. Suddenly there was a loud whistling in the hallway, as if someone was calling the dogs - Lilly woke up and immediately jumped off the bed and ran to see who it was. Because it was so loud, I was right behind her; there wasn't a doubt in my mind that someone was in the house. She slowed down in the side gallery - the hallway - as if she expected to see someone there, but it was empty. Looking around outside, I saw that there was no one in the driveway, in front of the house, or anywhere around. As sure as I was that I'd heard someone whistle, Lilly was even more sure.
Like I said earlier, not long ago we decided to re-do our bedroom, and moved our bed into the game room. While we're still doing work on the floors, we continue to sleep in the game room, which was the original master bedroom of the house. Since we've been doing that, we've heard footsteps in the room at night, but there's been an even more interesting phenomena - during the tours, several people have gotten dizzy/nauseous when we entered the room. A few have even bailed on the tour in favor of waiting outside; I don't know what the difference is, but that never happened before we moved our bedroom there. A lot of people are picking up a weird vibe to that room now.
I love first-hand stories about experiences at The Grove, but this one, however, is second-hand. If it wasn't so interesting, I probably wouldn't pass it on - but this story caught my attention. It comes from the restaurant days, and this photo is from that time period, courtesy of Patrick Hopkins. Who knows whether or not this story is supernatural, but I'll tell it just the way that it was told to me - I'll try to relay it exactly as I heard it: A couple stayed at the B&B of some friends this month, and they related the fact that they'd visited The Grove back in the days when it was a restaurant. Since it was in the middle of the day, no one was there - they just went in and had a seat in the empty dining room. Finally, a lady in a long, white dress entered the room to take their drink order. She left after getting it, and the couple said how strange the encounter was. Suddenly the dining room felt very, very strange, to the point that they were uncomfortable just being there. They looked at each other, stood up, and quickly exited. The couple never went back, and didn't even come take the tour when they were back in town. I would love to know more about that visit, though!
So now we can end August, and head into fall. Hopefully September will be cooler, and we'll get a little much-needed rain. Until we talk again, have a great month!
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