www.thegrove-jefferson.com                                February 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!

Happy February from The Grove! Glad to have you aboard as we head into 2012. We've had a busy month here in town - the "Quilts on the Bayou" quilt show wrapped at the end of January (with a record number of quilts and attendees), and then came Valentine's Day (more about that in a sec), followed quickly by one of Jefferson's largest parties: Mardi Gras - it seemed like we were celebrating something every time we turned around this month!

Speaking of Valentine's day, it is quite an event here in Jefferson. Couples come from all over the region for a romantic time in the old riverport city, whether it's a candlelight dinner (like you can see in the photo here), a carriage ride around town, or a night at one of the city's charming bed and breakfasts. In the evening you'll see couples strolling hand in hand along the old brick streets of town, or enjoying a glass of wine on the front porch of the inn where they're staying. There's no place that's more romantic than Jefferson, Texas!

Since we're locals, you'd imagine that we would have our pick of any of the above activities - including relaxing on the front gallery of The Grove, listening to the birds sing in the trees, and watching the squirrels run around the property. So how did we spend our romantic Valentine's Day evening? Well, since my wife is the Junior Class Sponsor in charge of the prom at Jefferson High School, we worked the concession stand at the basketball game, which was a fundraiser for prom. We made chili dogs, cheese nachos, Frito pie, and sold all sorts of candy, chips and drinks. It's not as bad as it sounds, though. Since we knew that would be our fate on the 14th, we went to one of our favorite Italian restaurants, Lamache's, on Saturday night before Valentine's (the photo in the paragraph above is from that evening). It was a wonderful night, dining on Chicken Carbonara by candlelight... it more than made up for Valentine's in the concession stand!

It's that time of year... Jodi Breckenridge and the Historic Jefferson Ghost walk presents the Spring 2012 History, Haunts and Legends Conference in Jefferson on April 14th. This conference is going to be incredible. It features top-shelf speakers including Larry Flaxman, Peter J. Haviland, Olyve Abbott, Dash Beardsley, Dr. Rita Louise, Jennifer Broussard, and Cathy Nance. I've been on the program with most of these folks at various conferences over the years, and I can tell you, you'll DEFINATELY be impressed with their presentations. Jodi's also asked me to be on the podium, so I'll be there as well - and I'm looking forward to the day. With your conference ticket comes evening investigations at some of Jefferson's unique - and most haunted - locations, so plan on being up late! Reservations are required, and you can get all of the info that you need by clicking on this link: www.jeffersonghostwalk.com.

Jefferson has a new event in town this spring - the Nightmare Machine Steampunk Conference! I'll admit that when I first heard about it, I had no idea what "Steampunk" was, so I did some online research (including checking it out on Wikipedia). It's hard to pin down, but the steampunk world is widely-encompassing; as I understand it, steampunk involves fashion, music, and other media that is rooted in a sci-fi kind of era where steam power is king, life is back in the industrial revolution age, and clothing is a fusion between that world and the Victorian style. It's all very interesting, and I can hardly wait for the Nightmare Machine to come to town! Click to visit the website for the Steampunk Illumination Society (the sponsoring organization).

Back in December of 2011 I had a link in the GroveZine to a new feature of the Jefferson General Store: Sharing A Shake - a comedy interview series that will feature various citizens from town. They asked me to be in the first episode, author Kathy Patrick was in the second, and the third features Jefferson's Chief of Police, Hollis Shadden. When they were getting ready to film, Taylor, the director, and Brian, the star (both writers of the series) decided that they needed someone to play a criminal. It had to be someone who could easily slip into the role of a scoundral, a ne're-do-well, a common hoodlum - someone easily believable as a thief. For some reason, they called me! Anyway, it was a lot of fun; to watch the episode, click on the photo.

The weirdest little things not only catch my eye, but truly fascinate me. I was driving one of the streets of Jefferson this past month, and happened to look over at an intersection to see that a little witch doll was sitting in the grass on one corner. Since Halloween was several months ago, I wondered where she came from and who had placed her there. As it turns out, I go through that intersection at least once a day; the next time that I went by, the little witch had been moved up onto a tree stump. She stayed there for about a week, and then I suddenly I missed her - passing back through, however, I saw that she'd moved across the street to another corner of the intersection, where she stayed for another week. She then moved to another corner, where she's been since. I don't know who put her on that corner or who's been moving her around, but it's kind of like when we first bought The Grove a decade ago. At the time, I didn't know who was "mysteriously" putting flowers on the grave of Diamond Bessie, a girl of misfortune buried at the local cemetery and the adopted daughter of the town. When I finally found who it was, I was a little disappointed - it was much more fun not knowing! For that reason, I don't think that I'll pursue what the story is with the little witch... I'll just wave at her as I go by every day!

You know, I'm fairly certain that civilization as we know it as ending... and I'm not talking about the Mayan calendar thing in December. No, the event that led me to this conclusion happened at one of America's favorite fast food restaurants - McDonald's. I promise you that the story that I'm about to tell you is completely true. To be honest, I couldn't make something like this up... and I'm a writer, for cryin' out loud! Okay, here we go. My wife and I pulled up to the drive-thru order station, and I told the voice over the speaker what we wanted: burgers, fries, etc. When I asked my wife what she wanted to drink, she said, "I've had a lot of caffeine today... I'll just take some water." When I gave that order, there was a pause, and then the voice over the speaker said, "You can't order water." When I asked why, the voice replied, "I don't have a button on the register for water, so you can't order it." I thought about that for a second, and then offered an idea. "I'm perfectly happy to pay for the water; why don't you hit the button for a cola, and then give us a water?" The voice said, "I can't do that either. The server will see it come up on the screen as a cola, and that's what you'll get." By now I was baffled by the fact that we couldn't get a simple water at McDonald's. I tried one more idea; I told the voice, "Okay, what if you punch it in as a cola, and then yell down the hall to the server that the cola is really going to be a water." The voice came back on and said, "It doesn't work like that. You can't order a water." Knowing when I've been beaten, I gave up and pulled forward to pay for our order. As I was giving the person behind the voice on the speaker some money, I couldn't resist asking, "So, you DO actually have water at McDonald's, right? I mean, there is a faucet that you can turn on and water will come out." The person nodded and said, "Of course." My mind was reeling. "So if I was there in the kitchen, I could put a cup under the faucet, turn it on, and get a drink of water." The person shrugged; "Sure." I then slowly, politely said, "But you can't give us a water." There was a momentary look of confusion, before I was told, "No - I don't have a button on the register for that." I sighed. You know those Terminator movies where mankind has made computers so smart that people don't have to think anymore, and then the machines revolt, take over the planet, and start annihilating the human race? I'm truly expecting that to happen any day now. And I fear that it will start at McDonald's...

All right, I'm typically not an alarmist, but you have to hear this story. It is the real deal, and I know of two people who have fallen prey to it. You may receive an email similar to this from a friend: "Hello - I'm writing this in a panic! Sorry that we did not inform you about our trip. We actually made a quick trip to London (England) and unfortunately we got attacked and mugged at gunpoint on our way to the hotel where we were staying. All of our cash, credit card and cell phones were stolen, but luckily we still have our passports with us. We`ve been to the embassy and the police here, but they are not helping issues at all. Our return flight leaves in couple of hours from now but we're having problem with the hotel bill. The hotel management won't let us leave until we settle our bill. We need your urgent help..."

...and so goes a scam email that has been going around for over a year. I first encountered it last summer, sent supposedly by my friend Dorothy. I was horrified, and was getting ready to wire her money, but thankfully I emailed her first. She was at home and fine, but her email program on her computer had been invaded by a virus. If you receive a similiar request, ignore it, or at least contact your friend before sending any money... unless, of course, the request for a few thousand bucks comes from the GroveZine, and in that case feel free to send the money straight on to Jefferson. Okay, okay, I'm kidding - but do be VERY serious about this scam email. In the case where my friend was hacked, someone actually wired a few thousand bucks to help her, which of course was long gone as soon as they hit the ENTER key. As Sgt. Esterhaus would say, "Let's be careful out there!"

And of course, how could we let the February GroveZine go by without mentioning Mardi Gras!

The weekend opened on Friday night with the customary "Doo-Dah" parade, where costumed locals on foot and in golf carts escorted the year's Mardi Gras royalty into the center of town to be welcomed by the masses. The parade stoped at Sterne Fountain, where the statue of Hebe, the Greek goddess of beauty and youth, adorns the top. This year, King Lou Castleman and Queen Betsy Treger fulfilled their duties by pronouncing the festival open, and the celebrations began.

It was a great 2012 Mardi Gras - rain threatened on Saturday, and there were a few sprinkles by the end of the Grand Parade, but we just broke out umbrellas and balanced them with one hand, while we caught beads with the other. It takes more than a little rain to spoil Mardi Gras in Jefferson. By the time that the Children's Parade rolled on Sunday afternoon, the sun had come out, and the crowds were there in force. Celebrating the festival in Jefferson is always a lot of fun - it's family-friendly, and it's a full weekend of entertainment.

This year, along with all the other culinary delights that were offered from food trailers parked around town, was NATURE'S PERFECT FOOD: The Deep Fried Oreo Cookie. Here's what they do: the vendor takes a standard, classic Oreo cookie, and inserts a toothpick into the white cream. It is then dipped in batter, then dropped into a vat of boiling oil. When it floats to the top a minute later, it is placed on a plate and sprinkled with confectioner's sugar. Of course, in the interest of the GroveZine, I had to try this culinary delight. All I can say is, if the vendor was selling glasses of milk to go with them, he'd make a fortune. Since the Mardi Gras celebration is spread out across town, I did miss a few other culinary treats... deep-fried Snickers and chocolate-covered bacon, to mention a couple. I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to try those, but I guess that there's always next year!

People always ask us what kind of supernatural things happen at The Grove, and every month we try to share a few typical ghost stories from the old 1861 home... so here we go!

We were having a quiet evening at The Grove one saturday night this month with both of us "telecommuting," as it were. We'd had a tour earlier in the day, and I'd then done some volunteer work at the Jefferson Quilt Show, and we were winding down for the evening while working on our respective computers. I got up to go into the kitchen, when Tami said, "Have you noticed that something weird's going on up front?" There were lights flashing - although not like someone out front with a camera - instead like soft bursts of light. We went up there, and upon entering the dining room we felt like we were stepping into a cloud of energy. As we've experienced before, it was like there was a party going on in the front part of the house - as if it was packed with people. We walked around just experiencing the interesting sensation, and then I looked over at the most active corner of the parlor, and the clock that is there had been opened and was hanging at an angle. It closes with a hook that fastens into an eye, so it's not something that just falls open. When I wind it, I always make sure that it is fastened well, just because of the reputation that the clock has...

This clock was originally purchased by my father, and he hung it at their house here in Jefferson. During periods when no one was at the house, I would stop in every day or so to check on it. One of the little things that I would do was to keep the clock wound. Several times I came in to find that the clock was stopped, and its face door opened. I would always close it back up, and make sure that the hook was securely in the eye to lock it. More than once I tried to jerk the door open just to make sure that there was no way it could casually come ajar. Still, I'd eventually find that the clock was stopped and its door had been opened. When people were at that house, the clock continued to misbehave - several people had experiences where the clock made, loud, sudden noises, or opened right in front of them. The clock therefore found found a home at The Grove... perhaps a fitting place for a clock with such "activity."

Years ago, when we were getting settled into The Grove, we had a pile of moving boxes stacked in a corner of the kitchen. I was transferring them out into the side gallery, and had developed a routine: pick up a box, balance it while I opened the door from the kitchen to the hallway (which has an automatic closer on it), step through the door, stack the box on the gallery, go back into the kitchen, and repeat. I did that over and over, until at one point when I tried to open the door back into the kitchen I found that it had been deadbolted from the inside... even though I was alone in the house. In the last decade, that's only happened a couple of times - it's not a frequent occurance, and the deadbolt isn't one that throws itself. You have to physically turn it to throw the lock, and it's a completely separate apparatus from the small door knob.
A week or so ago, we were getting ready to have some friends over for dinner, and we had secured the hallway for the basset hounds so that they could hang out and see what was going on through the French doors, but wouldn't be tempted to jump up on everyone and beg for attention. I walked out into the hallway from the kitchen and shut the door, and a few minutes later I was going back into the kitchen - but I found that the deadbolt had been locked from the inside. I was in the hallway, my wife was in the bedroom, and no one was in the kitchen to have thrown the deadbolt... at least, not that we could see.
People think that the idea of spirits are creepy or frightening, but to be honest, sometimes it's a lot like living with some mischievious children in your house who love to play tricks!

One of the most interesting things that happened this month - at least in my opinion - was very subtle, but very strong. I was working in my office one afternoon and the house was quiet, when I heard a sound like someone tapping on a bell with their fingernail. It wasn't ringing - it was just like I described it. There's nothing in the house that would normally make a noise like that, so I got up and walked through the dining room and into the parlor. When I did, I entered an energy field that was as strong as I've ever felt. I was so certain that someone unseen was there that I immediately began talking to it. I said, "Thanks for stopping by... who are you? Can you give me some other kind of sign?" Nothing else happened, but the intensity of the energy was incredibly strong. Before I headed back to the office, I said, "Feel free to stay as long as you'd like... and please, come back again!"

Well, that's about it for the GroveZine this month. Thanks so much for reading, and I hope that you enjoy all the tales from Jefferson, The Grove, and of course, my weird life. Until the next GroveZine, in the immortal words of Robin Williams, "Have a bitchin', disco time..." Talk to you in March!

Okay, I have to make a personal recommendation here. There's a new book that's just hit the shelves, a supernatural thriller that is simply incredible - The Sounding. It's one of the most riveting, exciting books that I've read in a while, and it is getting some wonderful reviews. The author, Carrie Salo, is something like a cross between Dan Brown and Frank Peretti... and WOW can she hold you on the edge of your seat. As I said a while back in the GroveZine, there's one scene in The Sounding that takes place in the stacks of a college library, and it could be the most suspenseful scene that I've ever read. Hitchcock would be proud. Meanwhile, this is a book that everyone is going to be talking about in a few months, and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see it on the big screen. You have to check out a quick summary of the story - it's incredible! Click to visit the book's website... including a video trailer for the book. You've got to read this supernatural thriller... I kid you not - it's INCREDIBLE!

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.

A quick favor, if you have a second... 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, or if you'd like to find out what's been going on for the last several years here at The Grove, you can find past issues at the GroveZine Archives.

03/30/2012 - The Nightmare Machine Steampunk Conference
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

To repeat our words from the beginning, this is a free subscription ezine for friends of The Grove - in other words, we NEVER arbitrarily add email addresses. We also NEVER sell or share email addresses with anyone else.

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