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"The result is ... that there's no room left in the world for the weird – though plenty for crude, contemptuous, wisecracking, fun-poking imitations of it. - Fritz Leiber
Greetings from The Grove in Jefferson, Texas! About a week ago I woke up on a Saturday morning and went outside, and the air was crisp! It was a wonderful, cool day. Of course, on Sunday the temperature was back up to 98, but at least we had a small preview of fall, and I had a chance to enjoy some incredible front porch time. I hope that by the next GroveZine there will be cool air here in Jefferson, and fall weather will have moved in for the season. Meanwhile, I've got some very cool stories for you this GroveZine, along with a very special request.
I have a truly wonderful story to tell this month... and it all started one Saturday at lunch. We were getting The Grove ready for our 2:00 tour, and I ran out to our new Subway that I mentioned a couple of months ago to grab sandwiches for lunch. I picked up our usual - a 6" turkey on flatbread for my wife, and a foot-long Black Forest ham on 9-grain honey oat bread for me. I got back to The Grove, we took a few minutes out to eat, and then got back to prepping the house. As we finished up, we began to talk about our dinner plans and realized that we needed a quick trip to the local grocery. I decided to do that, but as I was leaving, discovered that I couldn't find my wallet. I remembered having it at Subway, but not after that. When we realized that it wasn't in the house I began to truly panic, and decided to run back to Subway just to see if I'd left it there (although I couldn't imagine that - I remembered putting it into my pocket after getting my change). I walked in and asked the lady behind the cash register if anyone had turned in a wallet, but she shrugged and said, "Not today." As I turned to leave, I heard a guy say, "Are you Mr. Whitington?" I looked around and saw a couple sitting at a table, and he held up my wallet. He was on the phone at the time, and as it turns out, was talking to my wife, having found my business card with a phone number on it and was looking for me. The guy told me that he found it in the parking lot, and that it had been run over several times, but was trying to get it back to me. I was more thankful for this fellow's honesty than I can ever express. Even with all of the terrible things that you hear on the news every day, there are still honest people in the world, and two of them happened to be passing through Jefferson, Texas on the day that I dropped my wallet in the Subway parking lot. I gave them a copy of my new book The Midnight Saint, which interestingly enough, begins with just such a good deed.
One of my jobs before a tour is to clean off the front porch. I was doing that at the first of the month, and looked up to see that a bird had started piling sticks and brush up on top of one of our columns. I was going to knock it down, when I saw a little head stick up from it - the bird had already taken up residence. Well, we're animal lovers, so while I had no problem brushing off the debris if a bird was just starting to build (knowing that they'd move somewhere else on the property), once it set up housekeeping, we backed off and let the bird have the column. I figured that it would be really cool to hear some little birds chirping from it at the start of the tour, so we gave the bird a temporary lease on the front porch column.
Let's send some kids to the circus! This month the Jefferson Lions Club is bringing a circus to town. In years past it's been a treat for the entire community, and sets up in Lions Club park in the middle of town. The circus is a fund-raiser for the Jefferson Lions Club, and allows them to do things such as purchase eyeglasses for needy students, send physically challenged and diabetic children to summer camp, support the local Cub Scout Pack and other youth programs, and much, much, more. Jefferson is located in Marion County, which is not only one of the smallest counties in Texas, but is also one of the poorest. Last year a majority of the school students qualified for the free or assisted lunch program. That means that while many kids will be coming to the circus, there will also be a large number who won't be able to afford to go - and we're talking about a $6 ticket. That's the level of poverty in some parts of the county. My wife and I are helping a number of these children, and I'd also like to ask the GroveZine readers to consider helping a few kids. I try not to put a lot of ads and things in the GroveZine, but this is a cause that I'm passionate about. Attending the circus will be a lifetime memory for these kids, and so I'd like to send as many of them as possible. Here's how you can help...
*** If you will buy four children's tickets from the Jefferson Lions Club (that's $24), I'll send you a signed copy of my new book The Midnight Saint. I'm putting up the books, the packaging, and the postage, so every cent goes to purchase four tickets for underprivileged kids.
*** Alternately, I know that a number of you already have the book, but if you'd consider giving a child a ticket ($6) or even a couple of them ($12) that would be fantastic. You can make a child's day by donating the equivalent of a fast-food meal, something that we drop all the time without a thought. Click below and enter a multiple of $6. Your gift will be greatly appreciated.
The week of the circus, all of the donated tickets will be taken to the Primary School here in Jefferson, where they will be distributed by the school administration to those kids who otherwise wouldn't be able to attend. I really thank you all for allowing me a minute to pitch this charitable event - it's a great cause. Now, let's get on to some ghost stories!
The other day we were flipping through the channels and ran across the movie The Parent Trap. Not the original with Hayley Mills, but instead the 1998 re-make with Lindsay Lohan. At one point Lindsay (as Hallie Parker) met her grandfather for the first time, and put her nose into his jacket and inhaled. He said, "What are you doing?" to which she replied, "Making a memory - you smell like peppermint and pipe tobacco." I understood that scene, because I'll always remember the way that my mother smelled - it was a combination of Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds perfume, and whatever kind of hair spray that she used. My parents' house had the scent as well, and it always made me feel secure and comfortable. Twice this month I've smelled my mother; once I was in my car, going to pick up a friend on our way to Shreveport, and suddenly the car smelled exactly like my mother. I almost stopped and pulled over it was so strong, but I kept driving, not knowing if I was going to see her or feel her presence... but nothing happened and the scent dissipated. I had convinced myself that it was just my imagination, but a couple of days later I'd gone to ship some books, and when I walked back into The Grove, the same scent was very strong in the kitchen. I almost broke into tears, hoping that mother was going to come back for a least a moment, but again it quickly dissipated. That aroma has never happened in The Grove before, or since. I don't know what it all meant - I'd give anything if mother was coming back to visit me, even for a moment, but there was nothing there but the momentary scent. But because it made me think of her, maybe that was enough.
One Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago I was sweeping the walk in front of the house in preparation for a tour. I heard a woman's voice call, "Mitch!" from the garden, so I assumed that my wife was outside. I called back, "Over here!" and waited for either a reply, or to see her come walking around the house. Neither happened - all I heard were the birds chirping up in the trees. I put down the broom and walked over into the garden, looking around to see her, but not finding anyone there. I was curious at that point, so I went all the way to the back of the house, went back inside, and found my wife working in the den. I just shook my head and went back out to finish things up. That kind of thing has happened before, both in and out of the house, and so I didn't think it was a big deal. A week later the gentleman who owned The Grove before us, Patrick, stopped by for a visit. I told him about the experience and he just laughed. It happened to him any number of times. He told me that when he first purchased the house, the garden was overgrown and he was starting to weed it to make it look a little better. As he reached to pull one particular weed, a woman's voice behind him said, "Uh-uh!" He looked around to see that no one was there, but he left the plant. Sometime later it bloomed into a beautiful flower, and Patrick believes that Daphne Young, the lady who bought The Grove in 1885 with her husband Charlie, and planted the side garden, was there and kept him from pulling one of her plants. I have no idea why Daphne might have been calling me that day, but I heard my name called very clearly.
A week later, inside the house, my wife had something just as interesting happen. She was sitting on the couch in the den, working on her laptop, and saw some movement out in the hallway. She glanced up to see a man walking down the hall, and then emerge in the game room. The strange thing was that at that point, he disappeared. She called out for me, and I was in the laundry room, so I walked into the den to find out what she wanted. She was surprised to see me come from that direction, and told me what she'd seen. Who was it? Well, we're not sure, but since we were the only two humans in the house, it had to be one of our more "spirited" guests at The Grove.
The last thing that I wanted to mention this month is VERY cool - at least, in my opinion. I saw it on the news, and had to include it in the GroveZine. A police
department in New Mexico has cameras rolling 24/7, and saw a ghostly figure walking through their lock-up area. The figure moves through their fenced-in area, through solid objects in a manner that wouldn't be humanly possible. You can watch the video by clicking here.
I'd personally consider it a favor if you'd think about sending some underprivilaged Jefferson kids to the circus, so thanks for giving that a thought or two. It's going to be a good time for the kids, and I'd like to have as many as possible get to enjoy it. Meanwhile, I'm off to open a Pepsi, and maybe fry up a little bacon... so I'll simply say, "bye for now!"
I'm going to be out and about over the next few weeks, so please come hang out with me if you can.
- 10/18/14 - Beckham Spirit Fest, Mineola, TX - click for info
- 10/27/14 - Grand Prairie Public Library, Grand Prairie, TX
- 11/01/14 - History, Haunts & Legends Conference, Jefferson, TX
Here's what's coming up around Jefferson...
10/10-10/12/2014 - Burn Benefit Motorcycle Rally
11/1/2014 - History, Haunts & Legends Paranormal Conference
11/7-11/9/2014 - Medieval Wine Faire
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 much more throughout the coming year!
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