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"Don't matter if you believe in them or not. If they're there, they're there." - Joan Lowery Nixon
Hello from The Grove! You know, when I'm talking about non-human visitors that show up here, I'm usually talking about spirits... but one morning this month I was heading for the post office, and something caught my eye as I pulled out of the driveway. There was a visitor out in front of the house! I slowly stopped the car, and saw that we had a deer who had obviously jumped the fence to come take a look around. I carefully crept the car to the front of the house to take this photo. After that I opened the front gate, which scared the deer away, but I wanted to at least offer an easy escape route instead of making her jump back over the fence. When I returned to The Grove she was gone, so she must have found her way back out. I love living in Jefferson - you really never know what you're going to see!
I have to say a special thanks to the folks who've said such wonderful things about my new book, The Midnight Saint. This one is quite a departure for me; while I'm usually investigating and researching haunted places to write about, this book is a work of fiction that I've been writing for quite a long time. It's a very personal book to me, and I really bared my soul. I think that part of it deals with my fear of death, but it was also instrumental in healing the wounds of some losses that I've had in life... the death of my mother and father, for example. The book is so much a part of me that it's hard to talk about. The actress Rosalind Russell once described the way she put her heart into her roles as, "standing up naked and turning around very slowly." That's exactly how putting this book out feels to me, so you have no idea how much I sincerely appreciate all the wonderful comments and kind words. By the way, if you want to read the book, just click on the cover!
There's a new movie that's being filmed in Jefferson called "Something in the Woods." The interesting thing is that they did crowd-funding to finance part of it. My wife and I furnished food for the cast and crew one day, so I'm anxious to see the final product! It's a fictional tale about a logger and his family whose lives are suddenly interrupted by the invasion of a bigfoot-like creature, although the story is loosely based on several actual bigfoot reports from the Jefferson area in the 1940s and 50s. Shooting is also being done around town, at locations like Jefferson’s First United Methodist Church, the Baptist church and a café scene at Kitt’s Cornbread Sandwich and Pie Bar. Stay tuned for more information about this Jefferson-based film!
Now, this has nothing to do with The Grove or Jefferson, but someone sent me a fun little link to something that I thought that the 'zine readers would enjoy. It's "15 Creepy Things that Babysitters Heard From Kids." My favorite one is: A few years ago, I was putting my friend's daughter to bed for the night. She was about 3 at the time, and she was fighting going to sleep. She asked me why she had to go to bed, and I said, "Because it is late and it's time for little girls to get a good night's rest." She then pointed at noghing across the room and said, "What about that little girl?" To read the rest of them, just click on this link!
If you're a history buff, you're going to want to make plans to attend Jefferson's 3rd annual Civil War Symposium on August 9th. It's a full day focusing on the Red River Campaign of the war. There are distinguished scholars presenting topics such as: "Overview of the Red River Campaign" by Dr. Gary D. Joiner; "War in the Piney Woods: The Battle of Mansfield, April 8, 1864" by Scott Dearman; "Richard Taylor, the Red River, Texas, and the World" by Dr. T. Michael Parrish; "A Gallant & Desperate Charge: The 19th Texas Infantry in Louisiana" by Dr. Richard McCaslin. There's even an add-on lunch-with-the-speakers with a presentation of "Hamilton P. Bee and the Battle of Monett's Ferry" by Richard H. Holloway. Along with a full slate of speakers, there are exhibitors and vendor booths to explore. Get your reservations quickly, because space is limited. All the information can be found by clicking here.
Well, it continues to happen with more and more regularity. Just after a typical Saturday tour early this month (much like the one in the photo from a few weeks later), I received the following email sent from a guest...
I just left tour at your house. Enjoyed it very much. I was the blond-haired girl with the bald guy. You probably saw me talking to my husband in the room right before we went to the kitchen. I was standing in the doorway of the kitchen. While you were talking I told him I needed to leave, but he asked me to make it a little longer. I was standing in the back and started feeling like I could not breathe, sweating and dizzy. I know I am not crazy but as soon as we left that room it went away. I thought for sure I was going to pass out. Kinda freaky. Just wanted to share that with you. Anything ever happen like that to anyone? That's why when you went into the kitchen I was in the back leaning against the doorway.
I still wonder what to do, whether to caution people before the tour, or just try to keep from planting the seed that something might happen. I really don't know how to handle this. Thankfully it's nothing harmful or lingering - it always passes as soon as the affected person leaves that room.
We've always heard stories about lights at The Grove. For example, our innkeeper friend Mary Kay had a few ladies staying at her B&B who wanted to see The Grove one evening. Mary Kay put them in her car, and drove them by the house. It was before we bought the place and no one was living here, so when they went by the place was dark. They made the block to look at the house again, and when they came back, the house was lit up like someone had turned on every light inside, which freaked them out since the house was empty at the time. But it's not just friends that we hear stories from. One of Jefferson's police officers told me that before we bought the house, he'd pass by it on patrol and there would be a light on in the front parlor. He knew that no one lived there, so he'd make the block to see what was going on, and when he came back by, the house was dark. Some things are even stranger than that, though; when we first bought The Grove, a neighbor and I were talking out in the street, and he said, "Are you sure that you're going to be able to live in that house?" I assured him that we'd be fine, and then asked why he's pose such a question. He told me that several times he'd seen the lights on in the house, but the electric meter had been pulled since no one lived there - there was literally no electricity to the house. I mention all this because some folks that we know came by to look at the house late one evening, long after midnight. As they were standing out front, a light came on in the parlor, then went back off. They were afraid that we'd seen or heard some people out front and just turned the light on to check it out, and they just wanted to let us know that it was them. The funny thing is, we'd been in bed, sound asleep, for a couple of hours at that point. It's good to know that the house is looking out for itself!
We had a group of corvettes come by The Grove during the annual corvette show, and those cars were quite impressive all lined up on Moseley Street (I couldn't resist taking a photo, getting as many of them as I could). I gave the group a brief history of The Grove out in front of the house, along with some of our ghost stories. One of the organizers of the weekend is our former chief of police, and when I was done with my presentation, he told the group a story that he'd never shared with me before. During his time as chief, he would often get out and patrol at night, especially going through the downtown alleys just to make sure that no mischief was going on. Around the area of the Jefferson General Store downtown he would emerge from the alley onto the street, and often see a man standing to his left. The man was dressed in old timey attire with a long coat and a top hat. The chief would glace to his right to make sure a car wasn't coming, then back to the left to try to determine who the fellow was... only to see that he had vanished. He said that this happened with some regularity the entire time that he held the office and patrolled at night. I guess that the man is simply one of the resident spirits of Jefferson.
A week or so after I took the photo of the deer that started out this GroveZine, I was pacing the front porch, talking on a business call with an associate, when I glanced out into the street and saw another deer - a much younger one - just walking along without a care in the world. You know, I absolutely love living in Jefferson - things are so much more casual and relaxed here that even a skittish young deer doesn't get excited. And I've never lived anywhere else in my life where a deer would just be casually walking down the street. As I heave a heavy sigh and close out this GroveZine, I'd invite you to come to town, sit out on the front porch of your B&B, and just watch as time slowly ticks by... it can be amazing.
Here's what's coming up around Jefferson...
8/9/2014 - Jefferson Civil War Symposium
8/23-8/24/2014 - Gun & Knife Show
10/4/2014 - Cypress River Airport Fly-In
10/10-10/12/2014 - Burn Benefit Motorcycle Rally
11/1/2014 - History, Haunts & Legends Paranormal Conference
11/29/2014 - Christmas Tree Lighting in Lions Park
12/4-12/6/2014 - Candlelight Tour of Homes
12/11-12/14/2014 - Candlelight Tour of Homes
...and more throughout the rest of the year!
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