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Hello from The Grove, everyone! As fall is supposed to be creeping into the air, it's still hotter than a jalapeno pepper here in Jefferson. We've had such a dry August that leaves have already begun to fall, so we've already been doing autumn yard duty. It's during this time of year that the name of the house, The Grove, is truly imprinted on us because of the leaves coming down like rain. Still, things are rocking right along, and Jefferson's football team has already won a game or two. I can hardly wait for an evening when it's cool enough to build a fire and have some friends over for a cookout. Meanwhile, I have some interesting stories to tell, an update on my obsession with handmade soap, and a tale of how boring it can be to listen to a conversation between people who live in "haunted" houses. Let's get going!
First of all, I recently noticed something really weird... at least, to me. A week or so ago I was called for jury duty over at the Marion County Courthouse, which is exactly six blocks away from The Grove. We moved to Jefferson almost eight years ago, and once we did, I have found the jury process to be a little surreal.
You see, when we lived in Dallas, I'd get called for criminal jury duty once a year in the spring, just like clockwork. So much for the random polling theory. Anyway, we'd start out in the main jury room of the Lew Starret Justice Center that held several hundred people. From there we'd be called to specific courtrooms in groups of about fifty, and the attorneys would begin their "voir dire" process, which would include questioning the prospective jurors. The very first thing that was asked was whether anyone in the room knew anyone else in the room - they wanted everything to be completely anonymous.
At jury duty in Jefferson, they don't ask that question. Chances are that in the jury pool, half-a-dozen are good friends of mine, another dozen are casual friends, and another dozen or so beyond that are acquaintances. The D.A. is a fellow that I know well - our wives are in the Garden Club together. The defense attorney will either be a friend of mine who I've used before for legal services in the publishing business, or another attorney who is in the Diamond Bessie Murder Trial with me every May. In Jefferson there's no way that I could be in a jury room where I didn't know anyone else there! Anyway, on the particular day that I was called, the defendant made a deal, and I didn't have to serve. It kind of disappointed me, because I find jury trials very interesting.
Okay, the next thing that I have to mention is one that is near and dear to my heart. My friend and neighbor from my youth, Karen Newlin, passed away a year ago from breast cancer. This year her brother Bob - who is my friend and was a groomsman at my wedding - has organized a benefit to raise money for the study and cure of breast cancer. One of the items in the silent auction is a ghostly night in Jefferson, with a value of over $300. You can read all about it, and get the details on bidding, by clicking on this link. For the silent auction winner, it will be a ghostly, whirlwind day and evening that he or she won't soon forget!
Also, I think that I mentioned a few months ago that The Grove will be on Jefferson's Candlelight Tour of Homes the first two weekends in December. We're looking forward to it! If you live in the area, and would like to be a part of the fun by being a docent at The Grove, we'd love to have you. All that you need is an outfit that looks Victorian-ish, and we can give you some suggestions by email on how to put that together. We still have a few openings on Friday, December 3rd; Thursday, December 9th; and Friday, December 10th. The Historic Jefferson Foundation will give you a complementary ticket for the Candlelight Tour for your docent work, but more than that, it's just a lot of fun. Drop me an email ASAP if you're interested!
It's almost time for the fall paranormal conference in Jefferson, and Jodi Breckenridge of the Historic Jefferson Ghost Walk has put together quite a program for you once again. You'll hear some of the most prestegious paranormal speakers in the region including Lisa Farwell, Ken Gerhardt, Brad DuPlechien, Peter J. Haviland, Dr. Rita Louise, and Larry Flaxman. I'll be speaking there too, and I can hardly wait for the conference, just to hear the slate of esteemed speakers that will be appearing that day!
Sometimes people are amazed when I tell them that we've simply gotten used to all of the supernatural activity here at The Grove... most folks can't imagine that. There is no better example of that fact, however, than what happened a couple of weeks ago. A few friends had stopped by, and in the course of visiting, the guys had drifted into the game room, and the girls were in the den. I was walking back to the kitchen, passing through the den, when our friend Paula made the comment, "Your house is very active tonight!" I asked what had happened, and she said that she'd been sitting there talking to another friend, Lisa, and she'd seen a man dressed in a dark suit walk down the hallway. Lisa added, "I saw him too, but he'd been standing there watching us before that." I thought that was interesting, made a comment to that regard, and then headed into the kitchen. It struck me how surreal that conversation was - we were literally talking about the full-body manifestation of a spirit, witnesses by a couple of people at the same time, but were discussing it as if we'd been talking about one of the basset hounds simply trotting down the hall. Living in a place with a lot of supernatural activity, though, that's what happens. Lisa and her husband Mike own Falling Leaves B&B, and have quite a few of their own ghost stories to tell. Paula and her husband lived in the Wishing Well, a home here in Jefferson where the supernatural activity started soon after they moved in. If you'd heard our casual conversation, that particular evening, though, you might have thought that we were crazy to be so nonchalant about such an event.
And speaking of the man in the dark suit, we believe that he is the fellow that we also call the "garden guy" because he's been seen out there so many times. We've never seen him inside of the house, but keep in mind that the hallway used to be an open side porch looking out into the garden, so if he's there, in his era, that was probably still an outside area. If you've been reading the GroveZine for a while, you've seen references to him through the years. We no longer talk about him on the tour, because there are so many other stories to tell - if we included all of our stories, the tour might be six hours long! Anyway, after one of the tours this month, a gentleman asked me who the man in the garden was. Since I hadn't mentioned him, I wondered if he'd read about him in a book or something like that. As it turned out, though, the gentleman said that he'd seen the garden guy during the restaurant days of The Grove. They were standing out in the garden, and looked up to see a man out there simply standing among the plants and smiling. The visitor and his companion turned to look at each other, and then glanced back to see that the garden guy had disappeared. I tell you, I wish that I had a dollar for every time that I've heard that exact same story from someone.
We received a very nice email a few weeks ago from Anita, the President of the Lubbock Ghost Investigation Society, and apparently she had a few experiences at The Grove during one of the tours. She wrote us: I'm sure there is no way you can remember all the people in the groups that visit your wonderful home. There are always four of us in a group when we visit (same four), and the three times we have had the pleasure to be there, I have been pinched on my "hip" and been witness to many sights and sounds as you have lead the tour. I have to be honest in saying I have not been as attentive to the stories as I would have liked due the activity in the house. I am a medium, but I do not announce myself as I wish to draw my own conclusions. I LOVE your home!!!
Now, I'm not comfortable with the fact that Anita has been pinched on the hip by some unseen hand, but it does kind of fall in line with the lady who had her bottom patted in the den. All this makes me think that we have a guy spirit who tends to get a little frisky from time to time!
And to close out this month, we recently received an email from Arsenic & Old Ladies-Paranormal Investigations who visited The Grove, and came away with a photograph that they found extremely interesting... and of course, I wanted to share it with you. Just click on this link. Is it a manifestation of old Charlie Young the barber? I don't know - visit their website, and decide for yourself...
And with that, I'll say goodbye, at least for now, as we head into fall, football season, and in just a month or so, Halloween! Oh, and I probably need to say that the tours Halloween weekend will be by reservation only - we'll have several to choose from that Saturday afternoon. Don't forget to check out the silent auction on the "Haunted Jefferson trip" by clicking on this link - you'll have a great time, and it's for a very good cause.
I know that I've mentioned this before, but The Grove is listed on Tripadvisor.com. If you've taken The Grove tour, and you have a few spare moments, we'd really, really (did I say really?) appreciate you visiting TripAdvisor.com's site for The Grove, and leaving a review of your experience. You can go to TripAdvisor.com and search for "The Grove Jefferson TX," or go to The Grove's website www.thegrove-jefferson.com and scroll down to find the Trip Advisor logo-link, or simply click on the TripAdvisor logo right here in the GroveZine to take you to the page. I know that it takes a couple of minutes, but we'd sincerely appreciate it.
If you'd like to check any of my books, you can find them at Barnes & Noble, Borders, Amazon.com, or
at The Grove's website if you'd like to order a signed copy of anything.
If you missed any issues of the GroveZine, you can find them at the GroveZine Archives.
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