www.thegrove-jefferson.com                                January 2012                                 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!

Welcome to 2012! We had a great New Year's Eve and following day, and one of the things that touched me the most was on the afternoon of January 1st. I'd taken some family members to the airport in Shreveport, and later that day everything at The Grove was peaceful and quiet. I went out onto the front porch - or gallery, as we call such a place in the South - and it was very serene. The sun was shining through the branches of the Pecan trees, and as I walked back and forth, it struck me that everyone was starting with a clean slate for the year.

Ahead of us are many interesting times, parties and celebrations in the months to come, the revelry of Mardi Gras and the thrill of July 4th fireworks, the intense heat of summer and the first chill of autumn in the air, dragging the Christmas decorations out of the attic, and everything else that will make up the year ahead. In the play Hamlet, Shakespeare quotes the unknown as "The undiscovere'd country, from whose bourn no traveller returns..." The obvious reference in the play is that of death, but some scholars (and the writers of the movie Star Trek VI) extrapolate the phrase to being descriptive of the future, and you know, I like that. For all of us 2012 is the "undiscovered country," and although there will be ups and downs, I pray that a year from now we'll look back with wonderful memories, and thankfulness for all the incredible things that happened and the blessings that we received. That makes it kind of exciting, and much like a kid facing the old swimming hole on the first day of summer, I'm ready to grab the tire swing and jump right in!

It would be hard to talk about Jefferson goings-on without mentioning a genuine tragedy that happened this month. My favorite place to eat barbecue in the entire world - Riverport Barbecue here in Jefferson - was destroyed by fire. The initial word is that it was an electrical fire that started in the wiring in the wee hours of the morning, and by daybreak everything was gone; only the brick walls remain. This was a second-generation business, and they knew how to do barbecue right. The entire town is in mourning, and hoping that the Joseph family can rebuild and bring their deliciously smoked meats back. This is a restaurant where you could consistently find locals hanging out for a meal, and that says a lot for the place. Everyone in town was sad to see it destroyed, and hope to see it rise back like a phoenix from the ashes!

In the last GroveZine I mentioned that a child had asked me if I was Santa's brother at Christmastime, and I said that I was going to try to lose some weight to at least try to get away from such a comparison. To that end, we bought a Wii game console, which has a wealth of exercise programs available. We went with "Wii Fit Plus" and to get started, you must create a little avatar of yourself that they call a "Mii," but I call my Wii man. So here's the thing - when I created the Mitchel Wii man, I tried to be honest. I gave him long hair, but made it gray. I gave him a mustache and beard, but colored them gray as well. And although I had the option of making him as skinny as Gilligan, I tried to give him a little heft to reflect my current state. When you're working with "Wii Fit Plus," though, the step workout platform is also a scale, so when I got on it the first time before exercising, it took my weight... and then expanded my Wii man to reflect my actual condition. My Wii man's stomach blew up like a balloon... what a humbling experience. This is a screen capture of Mitchel Wii man AFTER the adjustment. I'm now working hard to make him shrink a little. Stay tuned, because so far, it hasn't been easy!

Before doing much more, I'd like to take a moment or two to say a great big "thanks" and give a tip 'o the GroveZine chapeau to the good folks over at Texas Farm & Home Magazine. Not only did they publish a wonderful article on the City of Jefferson written by talented journalist Marilyn Jones, but the piece also featured The Grove. It had a very nice photo of the outside of the house and a beautiful one of the formal sitting parlor, noting the place as "one of the most haunted houses in Texas." We really appreciate the mention in such a prestigious magazine, both for the City of Jefferson, and for The Grove.

We also had a nice visit from the crew of the Emmy-winning TV series The Daytripper with Chet Garner this month - they were filming in Jefferson, and wanted to shoot at The Grove. They were here for two-and-a-half hours for what will be just a few minutes on the show, but we had a lot of fun. They were also filming at the House of Seasons, out at Caddo Lake, and were going to show those delicious pecan pralines being hand made at the General Store. In with all the wonderful things that they did in Jefferson, we were delighted that they took time to come visit The Grove. That's me on the far right in the photo... do I REALLY look like my Wii man???

Can it be Mardi Gras already? It must be, since all of the homes in Jefferson are decking out in purple, green and gold. It's a major celebration in town that goes back to the days when Jefferson and New Orleans were connected by a steamboat trade route in the 1800s. Today the city has a very family-friendly celebration with three parades over the course of the weekend, vendors selling everything from specialty beads to food trailers with the most unhealthy - but delicious - snacks in the world (I must admit, I patronize the latter quite a bit during the weekend), and a beer garden for the adults that features live music. This year it is February 17-19, which is just around the corner. "Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!"

scenes from Jefferson's Mardi Gras Upriver...

This isn't technically a supernatural experience... in fact, it's actually a *spoof* of a supernatural experience that the TV show Saturday Night Live did a while back. I was speaking at a paranormal conference in Fort Worth last year and one of the other presenters showed it to the audience - and I'm still laughing over it. Paranormal investigators, like everyone else, need a thick skin and a sense of humor to get along in life. In that vein, I submit this faux-episode of Most Haunted that shows the investigation of "Chillingham Castle" in "Northumberland." Click on the photo to watch this hilarious four-and-a-half minute clip!

But getting back to real spirits, we're still waiting for our segment to appear on My Ghost Story - they called and said that it would air sometime in January, but didn't know exactly when. I went to their website to see if I could recognize the episode, and I think that I found it - I believe that it's Season 2 Episode 28. With everything that they filmed we weren't sure exactly what angle they would take on The Grove, but we did talk a lot about Charlie Young and they apparently focused on him. Mr. Charlie was the barber who bought the house in 1885, and after all, we've had a few very interesting experiences with Mr. Charlie over the years. The thing that made me recognize the episode was a notation on the description that "...a dead barber gives massages from beyond the grave..." I read that and said out loud, "MASSAGES?!?!" Of course, they meant messages, because Mr. Charlie has never shown up to give me a shoulder rub while I was working at my computer. It must be a typo on their website, unless there is another segment where a dead barber showed up at someone else's house to actually give massages, but that would just be weird.

In honor of My Ghost Story's tales of Charlie Young and The Grove, here are a few of our experiences concerning the distinguished old barber...

If you've taken the tour, then you've probably heard one of my favorite stories about Charlie Young, but it impressed me so much that it bears repeating here. One of our best friends, Renee, is very talented when it comes to house rennovations, and during the first few months that we owned The Grove she was coming up a couple of weekends every month to help out. The first time that she brought her twelve-year-old daughter, however, Renee was a little worried that she would be a little freaked to sleep in a house with all of these ghost stories, so she had a plan. She wasn't going to tell her daughter about the ghosts until the next morning, after they'd spent the night in the house, and hopefully everything would be all right. We made the small couch in the game room into a bed for her daughter, Renee slept on the couch in the den, and we were in the bedroom. When we got up the next morning and asked her daughter how she'd slept, she replied, "Fine - except for that man." When we started questioning her about the guy that she saw, she described a very distinguished African-American gentleman with white hair and a white mustache.

My wife thought she recognized who was being described, and went and dug out a photo of Charlie Young, the barber who bought The Grove in 1885. When my wife returned with it and showed our friend's daughter, the young girl pointed at the photo and said, "That's him - he was here last night!" Interestingly enough, he apparently wasn't there to see her. She said that when she woke up and saw him, he was walking around the room checking out the rennovations that were being done. She watched him for a few minutes, and when he finally glanced back and saw that she was awake, he just smiled at her. She said that she felt all warm inside like everything was okay, and since she was tired, just turned over and went back to sleep. I thought that was an incredible story - and by the way, that's the photo of Mr. Charlie standing out on the front porch of The Grove in the 1930's... he does look distinguished, doesn't he? My feelings were a little hurt that he didn't come back to visit me, but then someone on the tour pointed out that he was a barber - with my long hair, I may not want Charlie to stop in. He might say, "Son, let me show you how I cut hair," and I might wake up with a much different haircut than I usually sport!

Charlie may have made another appearance, although since I didn't witness it, I can't say for sure. We were having a rare evening tour that we were doing for a family of, oh, eight to ten people as I remember. The tour was very routine - I was telling some of The Grove's stories, and we moved into the game room and I was telling about Charlie being seen by our friend's daughter. The moment that I pulled out the photo, everyone in the room gasped - to make a long story short, while they were waiting to begin the tour out in front of The Grove, there was a man out in front of the house in the street. He was looking at them and watching the house, and they said that something about the experience was very, very strange... they just couldn't put their finger on the reason why. When they looked back he wasn't there, and they figured that he'd just moved on. When they saw the photo of Mr. Charlie, though, they recognized him immediately. Everyone was certain that he was the man who'd been standing out in front of The Grove watching them.

During the time of the former owner of The Grove, not only did Charlie show up, but his entire family made an appearance. Patrick Hopkins, who bought the house in 1990, did a wonderful thing. He held a dedication ceremony for the gardens of The Grove that Daphne Young had dedicated her entire life to. He put a plaque out among the flowers, and invited everyone from town, along with anyone who knew the Youngs, and celebrated Ms. Daphne (this photo is from that day). We hear that it was a wonderful experience, and Patrick had prepared horderves for everyone after the dedication ceremony. Patrick told us that when he came into the house from outside and walked into the kitchen, he looked up to see a small group of people standing in the corner by the sink. They were all standing together, and they were an African-American family who were smiling and happy. The good feelings were eminating throughout the room - they were suddenly gone, but Patrick believes that they were the Youngs: Charlie, Daphne and the kids, who had returned because Daphne had been recognized for her dedication to the garden, its flowers, and The Grove. God bless Patrick for doing such a wonderful thing for Ms. Daphne!

On another occasion, though, I'm quite sure that Charlie came back to visit the house when I was home working - he had a very specific mission, which I believe he fulfilled. You see, the gentleman who owned The Grove before us, Patrick, found several things belonging to the Young family. He brought us a box of papers from Lousie Young, and Mr. Charlie's personal straight razor, shaving mirror, and mug. Patrick told me that we had Mr. Charlie's complete shaving set, and we were thankful to have it. A few weeks later I was working during a quiet afternoon at The Grove, and our bassets started barking. The dogs have very specific barks: "I'm bored & want to play," "I'm hungry," and more specifically, "Someone's here!" The latter was the bark that day, and in fact, I was so sure that someone had arrived that I walked straight to my shoes and slipped them on before walking outside. Stepping out the side door, I didn't see anyone there. I walked down to the front of the house, but again, no one. I walked around to the other side of the house, but still, no one. As I headed back to the side door, I looked down and saw that laying on the ground was the handle to a shaving brush. It was an old one, and the bristles had been long since worn away. I picked it up and saw that it had a manufacturer's mark on it - when I looked it up online, I found that it was a shaving equipment manufacturer from the turn of the century. Now, I walked over the place that I found it several times a day for years - I'd mowed the grass there over and over and over again. For some reason, the old shaving brush just showed up that day. I personally believe that Charlie was so happy that Patrick had passed on his shaving set to the new owners of The Grove, and he just wanted to ensure that we had the full set. Of course, we'll be passing it all on to the next owners... although I hope that's not for a hundred years or so!

I'm reasonably sure that we haven't seen the last of Mr. Charlie Young. In fact, I'm not sure how much of the activity at The Grove is attributible to him... perhaps he's the scoundral who popped a lady on the bottom in the den, or rubbed the leg of another woman! In any case, Mr. Charlie's presense has been felt over the years, and I'm certain that it will continue to be. This photo is of Charlie as a "young" man (no pun intended... well, okay, maybe it was). He was quite the dapper gentleman, and may still fancy himself a ladies' man - of course, only if Ms. Daphne isn't around to keep an eye on him!

Since were're starting up 2012, I wanted to give a mention to the topical fiction thriller 2012: Timeline Apocalypse I love it because it's a supernatural adventure that is heavily steeped in the Mayan religion and prophesies. Bob Nailor, the book's author, did a masterful job with a story that's the perfect way to start out the "end of the world" year. Click on the book cover for more info on this great read.

And 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.

The Grove is listed on Tripadvisor.com, so 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 to do this (although not many more), but we'd sincerely appreciate it.

If you missed any issues of the GroveZine, you can find them at the GroveZine Archives.

02/04/2012 - Krewe of Hebe "Queen Mab Ball"
02/17-19/2012 - Mardi Gras Upriver
04/07/2012 - Jefferson's City Wide Rummage Sale
04/14/2012 - History Haunts and Legends paranormal conference
04/21/2012 - Paws on the Bayou
04/20-22/2012 - Outlaw Nationals Classic & Antique Car Show
04/20-22/2012 - 10th Annual Diamond Don's National Vintage Motocross
05/03-06/2012 - Diamond Bessie Murder Trial Play
05/04-06/2012 - Battle of Port Jefferson Civil War Re-enactment
05/04-06/2012 - 65th Annual Historic Home Tours & Spring Festival
05/26/2012 - Cypress River Airport Fly-In
06/01-02/2012 - 2nd Annual Big Cypress Corvette Classic
07/04/2012 - "Jefferson Salutes America" 4th of July Celebration
07/15/2012 - Krewe of Hebe "Jefferson Heritage Triathlon
10/06/2012 - Jefferson's City Wide Rummage Sale
10/12-14/2012 - 15th Annual Boo Run Benefit
10/21/2012 - Taste of Jefferson
10/25-27/2012 - Marion County Fair
10/27/2012 - Krewe of Hebe & Auntie Skinner's "Monster Bash"
11/09-10/2012 - Trammel's Trace Rendezvous
11/23/2012 - Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony @ Lion's Park
11/29-30/2012 - 30th Annual Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes
12/01,06-08/2012 - 30th Annual Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes
12/03/2012 - Jefferson's Old Fashioned Christmas Parade

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