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"One often hears of a horse that shivers with terror, or of a dog that howls at something a man's eyes cannot see, and men who live primitive lives where instinct does the work of reason are fully conscious of many things that we cannot perceive at all." - William Butler Yeats
Greetings from The Grove! Summer is winding down, and Fall is approaching... although you certainly couldn't tell it from the temperatures here in Jefferson. It's been hot and dry - we're hoping that some of the rains to our northwest move down into our area in the next week or so. The biggest news around here is that we've added a decorative fence to the property - a lot of the old homes in town have them, but one had never been built at The Grove. We're happy to be the owners who were able to do this for the house, and that it will stand for many years to come - not to keep people out, but to protect the gardens from animals roaming the area, and to give our basset hounds a lot more area to romp.
If you've been reading the GroveZine for a while, you know that I sometimes tell a lot more than I should - I spill things that are awkward and downright embarrassing about my life. This is no different, although this one involves a particular tour of The Grove. I'm sure that a much more suave and cool guy would just put it behind him, but no, I laughed at myself for half an hour over it... and therefore have to share it with you guys, no matter how horrifyingly humiliating it is. I was conducting a tour of The Grove, and we'd all moved from the Dining Room into the Game Room of the house. Everything was going great - the folks on the tour seemed to be having a good time, I was enjoying visiting with them, and suddenly when I looked up to point out the beam where the house originally ended... and I saw... A GIANT ROACH!!! It was about a foot long, maybe six inches in diameter, and its horrible, hairy legs were moving up and down on the wall. It was laughing at me with a beastly cackle, and smiling, its yellow, saber-like teeth gleaming in the light from the chandelier. Okay, okay, maybe it wasn't exactly THAT big, but it sure seemed so to me at the time. I was embarrassed beyond belief - after all, we have Terminix protecting the house, and they are here every month spraying the house and the grounds, and they do a superb job. We also clean the house twice a week for tours, and never leave food out. The Grove is impeccably clean... but there are times after heavy rains when we sometimes see one or two of those large water roaches crawling around. But it hadn't rained in Jefferson for weeks, so not only was I horrified that someone might see it, but I was confused as to why it was even there. I IMMEDIATELY started trying to get people to look ANYWHERE but at the wall with the bug. When it came time to tell the story of the Lady in White (it was right beside her wall) I pointed to the baseboard instead of the wall to show where she usually stepped up into the house. Instead of pointing out the beam where the house used to end - where the roach was - I indicated an imaginary line on the floor. I was just praying that the roach didn't start running around the wall and attracting everyone's attention. I was relieved that no one was taking pictures in the room, at least that I noticed, so we moved on quickly and continued the tour. After the tour was over, I thanked everyone, wished them a great rest-of-the-day, then slowly closed the front door and locked it. I then hit a dead run through the house to the kitchen, where I grabbed the bug spray and sent the monster to roach heaven. In the aftermath of the ordeal, it dawned on me that the water spigot on the east side of the house was right below that point, and with the drought that we've been experiencing in East Texas we've been watering things around the property to keep them alive. The water roach had probably been thriving in the dripping of the spigot, and just found his way inside. I've now been sitting in front of the computer, waiting for the TripAdvisor.com reviews that will say, "We loved The Grove, but there was this huge, monster, talking cockroach that took over the tour, and..."
BUT... if you've taken the tour and weren't assaulted by giant, carnivorous insects, we'd greatly appreciate a review on TripAdvisor.com. It only takes a minute, and it means a lot to us - you can just click on the link below this paragraph. We truly appreciate the four-star reviews, but we LOVE the five-star reviews! You guys have been so kind to us on TripAdvisor.com and we're completely flattered and appreciative. Thanks again!
Click here to review The Grove (no need to mention the roach...)
On a tour a few weeks ago we were just getting started out on the front porch. I looked over and saw that one of our guests was holding an elf... yes, an elf. But this elf looked a lot like the king of rock n' roll, Elvis Presley! I asked about the little fellow, and the lady holding him said that he traveled with her, and even had his own Facebook page. Sure enough, the little fellow - whose name I learned was Elfis Presley - went on the tour of The Grove, and was photographed in several of the most famous places in the house: the corner chair of the sitting parlor, out in front by the sign, etc. You can check out the little fellow's travels at his Facebook page Elfis Presley.
Things have been hopping here in Jefferson! The Hamburger Store has been re-painting in preparation for their grand re-opening; Home Fries restaurant has temporarily closed while a new owner takes over and does a re-boot of the place that will feature home-style cooking; and there's a couple of new stores on Polk Store for visitors to explore, including one that's just opened named "Estate Sales" - it features all sorts of items that you'd find at estate sales, so it's a fascinating place to wander through. The other is Southern Style Designs, a shop with tee shirts and more, including a cammo department. The summer may be winding down, but Jefferson is booming!
With Fall arriving, Halloween isn't far behind, and I'd like to personally invite all you GroveZine readers in the Dallas/Fort Worth area to come to a talk that I'm giving on haunted Texas locations - including The Grove - on October 29th. It will be at the Grand Prairie Main Library, located at 901 Conover Dr. You can get their contact info at their website: www.gptx.org/library. The event is free to the public, and I'd love to see you there!
As you know, I love not only sharing the strange stories of The Grove, but exploring the many oddities of our world in the GroveZine. I ran across an interesting story online not long ago, and of all places, on the Weather Channel website. The story is about the Mystery of Death Valley's 'Sailing' Stones - rocks that seem to be moving across the desert floor on their own. Supernatural, or natural but unexplained, who knows - I'll let you be the judge. All that you have to do is click on this story link to check out this interesting case. It is very curious indeed.
If you've been reading the GroveZine for a while, you know that we often have a phenomenon that's know as "shadow people" here at The Grove. I've done a lot of research on the topic, and I've been collecting stories from eyewitnesses all over the country. I hope to write a book on the subject, because it fascinates me so much. Usually they are seen out of the corner of your eye - a shadow shadow dashes about, but when you turn and look, it isn't there. On a few occasions we've seen them full-on, much as I did this month. It was about an hour before the tour, and I was going to check out the front porch to see if it needed sweeping before the tour - since The Grove is named for all the trees surrounding it, we have things falling on the house, porch and steps all year long. As I put my hand on the doorknob, I saw a figure dash across the porch from right to left. It was a dark figure, and my first thought was that someone had shown up for the tour very early and was sitting on the porch, and got spooked when they heard me up front. I opened the door to tell them that it was just me, but when I did there was no one on the porch, no one out front, no cars in front of the house. No one was there. As I thought about it, there was no doubt that I'd seen a dark figure dashing across the porch in front of me. I've experienced the shadow figures in the house many times, but never outside... this was something new.
I love the stories that I get from the tour. We had a group this month that was moving from the game room, through the stairwell, down the hallway (which used to be an open side porch), and into the den. The den is the modern room - after all, it wasn't added until 1870 - but when we got in there a young lady asked me about a door in the hall. "Where does that go?" she asked, and I told her that it was the bathroom. She then asked, "Is anyone in there?" I told her that I didn't think so, and asked why. She said that as she passed the door, there was a knocking on the door from the inside. What was once one large bathroom that was made from enclosing the back porch on the west side of the house has now been divided into a bath and a half-bath. Unfortunately, that back porch was the place where James, the son of the Young family who bought the house in 1885, hung himself to take his own life. While we don't have any supernatural activity in the bathroom, one of our guests swears that someone was knocking on the bathroom door from the inside as she passed by - and there was no one in there. I've seen enough strange things around The Grove that I didn't doubt her; I just assumed that it was one of the interesting things associated with the house.
One of our favorite things is when our guests send us photos from their visit to The Grove. We had some folks who drove by and took a few photos of the garden from the road, and when they looked at the pictures, saw something interesting... if not downright startling. I've written about the garden guy of The Grove numerous times over the years, a man dressed in black who has been seen in our garden many times over the last few decades (we've traced sightings of him back four owners). Is this him? Well, no one was out there when they snapped the picture, yet there certainly seems to be a man in our garden. This is one of the most compelling photos that we've ever received.
The final story that I have to tell this month happened to Tami, and we've laughed about it for the last week or so. My wife had been working late; she's the counselor at Jefferson High School, and scheduling for the upcoming school year has been in full gear. I was sitting in the den, and she came home and told me that she'd been working for so many hours at her desk that she just wanted to take a quick shower and then watch a little television before going to sleep. She was standing in the hallway, once the side porch to the house, and was undressing for a shower. She suddenly squealed, and looked around, but was instantly alarmed when she saw me still sitting in the den. She asked, "Have you been sitting there all this time?" I told her that I had, and asked why she would question it. She told me that someone had pinched her on her bottom out in the hallway, and she assumed that it was me who had joined her there - yet I was still seated in the den. She immediately yelled at whatever entity had pinched her to leave her alone - and I guess that it worked, because that hasn't happened again. You know, if a human guy had pinched my wife's bottom I'd immediately have a problem with it, and a physical altercation would ensue... but when one of the unseen spirits of The Grove did it, well, I just laughed and reminded her about the place where we live. I have to just question the fact that with so many strong females in The Grove's past, why haven't any of them pinched ME on the bottom?!? Oh well, I continue to live in hope...
And with that, I'll say goodbye for this month, and wish you a happy and prosperous time until we talk again. It's been an interesting Summer. The GroveZine will be back at the end of September, and I look forward to talking with you again then. Thanks so much for continuing to read the GroveZine - I really appreciate it!
Here's what's coming up around town...
09/14/2013 - 5th Annual Fire brigade Benefit Classic Car Show
09/28/2013 - 2nd Annual Medieval Wine Faire
10/5/2013 - Jefferson City Wide Rummage Sale
10/5/2013 - Cypress River Airport Fly-In
10/11-13/2013 - 16th Annual Boo Run Benefit (The Last Ride)
10/20/2013 - A Taste of Jefferson
11/2/2013 - History, Haunts & Legends Paranormal Conference
11/9/2013 - Toys for Tots Casino Night
11/29/2013 - Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony @ Lionís Park
11/30/2013 - Hustler's Ball @ Auntie Skinner's
12/5-14/2013 - 31st Annual Candlelight Tour of Homes
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