www.thegrove-jefferson.com                                January 2011                                 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!

Hello everyone, and welcome to the start of a brand new year! The holidays were well, bittersweet. I should just say that everything was great and move on, but you folks who read the GroveZine have become a giant network of friends to me, so I'll just say that in with all the holiday festivities, we had some family health problems as well. It was a mixed bag for us - one day good, the next bad. On January 31st, my father passed away. It was one of those things that you think that you're ready for, but when it happens, there are a flood of emotions that you never expected. Living at The Grove, I know for a fact that life goes on after death, and my spiritual beliefs assure me that Dad is in a much better state now than he was for the past few months.

Although he was confined to a bed for the last year, I remember him as the greatest, strongest, proudest man in the world. Here we are just two years ago, standing in a most spiritual place, a Caddo Indian mound in Mississippi. He was full of strength and energy. In the past weeks since we lost him all the thoughts and prayers from friends have been incredible - from getting them in emails to well-wishes in the grocery store, it's been comforting. I haven't been anywhere in the last few weeks that someone hasn't stopped me (whether I know them or not) to offer their condolences. Anyway, I don't want to bring everyone down, I just wanted to say how incredibly beneficial the love and support of friends is. God bless you all for your concern and thoughtfulness. Rest in peace, Dad... you were the greatest!

Let's get to the historic old riverport of Jefferson. With Christmas and New Year's behind us, everyone in Jefferson starts thinking about Mardi Gras Upriver - the Krewe of Hebe's magnificent celebration of the the event. Christmas trees become Mardi Gras trees, green/gold/purple tinsel is decked on the fronts of houses, and Mardi Gras masks abound. People are planning Mardi Gras parties, and the festivities and decorations become more elaborate every year! The celebration was brought up the river from New Orleans in the 1800s, and has been a great time in Jefferson ever since.

The festivities will kick off with the Doo-Dah parade on Friday night, March 4th, where the locals dress up and throw beads to the crowds as the King of Mardi Gras gives his official blessing at Sterne Fountain. There are bands playing almost around the clock in the beer garden, and the Grand Parade on Saturday afternoon is the highlight of the weekend. After an evening of more music, the Children's Parade wraps things up on Sunday. It's a family-friendly, fun weekend in Jefferson. Come join us this year on the weekend of March 4-6!

And speaking of celebrations, the St. Patrick's Day Irish Stew cook-off is gearing up once again. It promises to be another event of culinary delight, although I have one small bit of sad news: the Sandtown Irish Stew team that has competed for the last four years will be sitting this year out. There are conflicts for all four of us, not the least of which is a family wedding, so we won't be competing this year. Not to worry, however... our covert agents will be sampling the stews, discreetly taking notes, and reporting back to us so that the Sandtown Irish Stew team can come back stronger than ever in 2012! Meanwhile, come over to Jefferson for the wearing 'o the green and some incredible Irish Stew on Saturday, March 12th!

Okay, now for a few words about the time capsule project. Oh WOW are we in trouble... the time capsule has arrived, and it is much larger than we anticipated, even though I had the dimensions in advance. It just didn't sound like it would be this large! It's half the size of a water heater. Tami and I have to fill this with items that will be interesting in 2111, and to be honest, we need help in doing that. There's just so much room in there! We've received several suggestions from last month's ezine, but this month I want to broaden our request... we need help!!! Specifically, though, in three areas.

Numero Uno: Suggestions, suggestions, suggestions. What do I put in? Baseball cards, an empty coke bottle, comic books, magazines, whatever; if you have any ideas, we need them!

Number Two: Items. If you have something that you think would be incredibly interesting in 2111 that you can part with, let me know. Of course, the amount of space it takes up and the number of suggested items dictates what goes in, but if your item is included, it will be with a note from you with whatever you want to say about it.

Number Three: Letters. Here's your chance to have your words live on. If you'd like to write a letter to the future, this is your opportunity. I understand that pencil on regular paper stands the best chance of surviving, so that's probably the way to go. Write whatever you'd like to tell someone 100 years from now: what our lives are like, what you do for a living, your predictions for the future, whatever. Get it written, and postal-mail it to us at: Mitchel Whitington, 405 Moseley St, Jefferson, TX 75657. It will be sealed in an acid-free bag with a silica-gel packet to help protect it from moisture, and then sealed in the time capsule. Seriously, we'd love to include your words and thoughts in the capsule, so send them to us! By the way, if you are a teacher or youth leader and would like to get your kids involved, we'd love to have their letters as well - it's a fun project!

Meanwhile, last month I asked for suggestions about what to put in the capsule that might gain in monetary value, and a reader with a degree in economics gave what I thought was the most interesting idea: get a $20 bill, take it to the bank and get it changed into ones, and put those in the time capsule. His thought was that in the future, paper money won't exist, and they'd be a collectible item. That makes sense - so many transactions today are handled with credit or debit cards, it would be logical to assume that the trend would continue. I'll therefore be including some paper money - not enough to entice someone to break into it, but enough to make it interesting 100 years from now. Maybe twenty or thirty bucks in one dollar bills. Stay tuned!

Another thing that we've been thinking about are newspapers with major happenings of 2011. I recently purchased a Dallas Morning News with the headline about Egypt's president resigning. As I was putting it into a large ziplock bag with a silica gel pouch, it occurred to me that the real treasure might not be what the headlines of the newspaper are, but simply that it is a newspaper! After all, newspapers seem to be struggling all over the country as more and more people get their news from the internet - this paper may be something rare 100 years from now! I know that I haven't had a newspaper subscription in a decade. I get my news from the web, along with the weather, and even sports - newspapers are an industry that seems to be fading into the past.

Help us out - what other things that we have today will be rarities a century from now? Let us know. And also, send us your letters for enclosing in the time capsule!

I woke up on a Sunday morning much like I always do - had some coffee, checked email, and then walked through the house to see what all needed to happen to get it ready for the tour. I suddenly heard a soft, high-pitched wailing noise coming from somewhere in the house. I thought, "This is new," and set out to investigate. I never simply assume that something is supernatural - I always look for a logical explanation. As you've probably heard me say before, by doing that, the things that you can't explain become the ones that are simply magical. In this case, though, the wailing didn't sound like anything that I'd heard before. I finally determined that it was up front in the parlor or dining room, and when I got up there, found that it was emanating from the front porch. Opening the front door, I quickly discovered the culprit - a large plastic Mardi Gras mask that Tami had used in decorating the front of the house. When the wind blew, it scraped against the glass of the window... instant wailing. A couple of thumbtacks later and the noise had stopped - although perhaps I should have left it as it was for the tour!

I received the following email this month from Linda in Fort Worth... "Happy New Year! From a friend of the Grove. I attended the Candlelight Tour and it was so beautiful! I have to tell you that I have been on the Grove regular tour twice, and now the Candlelight Tour. Each time, I have taken pictures inside the home. I can never get any of them to come out in focus. This does not happen anywhere but in the Grove. Seems like I cant keep any batteries charged when I am there, resulting in out of focus shots. I put new batteries in before I walk in and by the time I am in the dining room, they are drained! I replace them and by the time we are in the den, the new ones are drained. I think your spirits really like my Duracels! Looking forward to my next trip to Jefferson. I will come back for another tour of the Grove and will bring my industrial strength batteries!" We hear this all the time - there's just something about The Grove that can zap a battery pack in an instant. We've even seen it happen to film crews. The strangest thing about this to us isn't that it's happening all all, but how selective it happens. You see, we have batteries in all of the television remotes, our camera, the can opener, you name it. They never seem to fail, though. Why in the world is it that visitors have their batteries suddenly drained, when the ones we used on household items work just fine? I have no answer - other than the fact that they belong to visitors, not us. I guess that it's just one of the mysteries of The Grove.

I also got an email from Lori McGlamery, who snapped several interesting photos out in front of The Grove on Jefferson's Historic Ghost Walk one evening. When I first saw the pictures, I asked all the standard questions - was anyone smoking, etc. Lori said, "We tried to debunk these on every level. It was definitely not smoke - I'm allergic so no one smokes anywhere near me." Her answer didn't surprise me - we've seen this same phenomena on hot summer nights and on frigid winter days, many times with several photos in rapid succession where only one will have the "plasma" and the others won't - which, if smoke, fog, etc. were there, it would show up in them all. This is a very interesting photo, Lori, thanks so much for sharing! By the way, while they were on the tour, she also reported that one of the skeptics in her group got physically shoved by an unseen hand while in the kitchen of The Grove, which was witnessed by another person in the party. Hey, just another active weekend!

For the final story of the month, I have to tell you about something that happened to us just a few nights ago. People ask if anything scary happens here, and I assume that they're thinking about movies such as the Amityville Horror or Paranormal Activity. I think that there are two answers - the first is that many of the things in the movies are creations of Hollywood (walls bleeding, giant pigs flying outside of the windows, etc.). The second answer is that we're so comfortable with the supernatural goings-on here that it's really become second nature, and doesn't really frighten us. The current case in point was in the middle of the night - I didn't look at the clock but I'd say it was in the mid-morning hours; maybe 3 or 4 AM. I woke up suddenly, and sat bolt upright in bed. All I knew was that something was going on in the room - but nothing more than that. Whatever it was had pulled me out of a deep sleep into an adrenalin-charged awake stake. I don't want to say that I was in a panic, but I was in an extremely alert state, trying to find out what was happening. Tami calmly said, "Are you up?" She then said that she'd been woken up earlier by a gray, mist-like cloud moving around the room. I didn't see that - in fact the room looked like the image that you see here (it's not a photo, just a mock-up of what we saw... darkness!). We talked about it for a moment, and then located both basset hounds; they'd jumped up on the bed and snuggled in for the night. Because they weren't going crazy, I knew that it wasn't a human being in the room, and therefore we weren't experiencing a break-in. I then laid back down to go to sleep. That's when our bathroom door slammed shut. Lying in the darkness in bed, we talked about that for a moment, laughed a little nervously, and finally turned over to go back to sleep. It was probably the most intense night that I've experienced at The Grove in a while, but in the end, we felt completely safe. It was just one of the spirits who came back for a visit.

Well, 2011 is here, and I can't wait to see what it has in store. I know that there will be a few sad times, as there already have been, but I also know that it's going to be the best year yet for all of us. I look forward to meeting more new friends on the tours of The Grove, collecting time capsule items, and getting to share another year with you folks. Thanks so much for reading The GroveZine!

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.

JEFFERSON CALENDAR

03/4-6/2011 22nd Annual Mardi Gras Upriver "History on Parade"
03/12/2011 5th Annual St. Patrick's Day Celebration & Irish Stew Cook-off
04/9/2011 Spring "History, Haunts & Legends" Conference
05/6-7/2011 Battle of Port Jefferson" Civil War Re-enactment
05/6-8/2011 64th Annual Pilgrimage Tour of Homes & Spring Festival
05/5-8/2011 Diamond Bessie Murder Trial Play
05/28/2011 Cypress River Airport Fly-in
07/04/2011 "Jefferson Salutes America" 4th of July Celebration
10/7-9/2011 13th Annual Boo Run Benefit
10/16/2011 Annual Taste of Jefferson
11/25/2011 Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Lions Park & Merchant's Open House
12/1-3/2011 29th Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes
12/8-10/2011 29th Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes


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