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"Ghosts take shape under moonlight, materialize in dreams. Shadows. Silhouettes of what is no more. But ghosts don't bother me. The day brings bigger things to worry about than flimsy remains of yesterday. No, spooks don't scare me. Gauzy apparitions might prank your psyche or agitate your nightmares, but lacking flesh and blood, they are powerless to hurt you. They cannot hope to inflict the kind of damage that real, live people do." - Ellen Hopkins
Well, here we are... the last GroveZine of 2014. I think that this is the point where I always say how fast the year has flown by - but it really has! 2014 has been a good year, though, and I hope that it was the same for you. We did a bit of traveling to have Christmas celebrations with our family, and took a little getaway to Hot Springs, Arkansas to spend our anniversary and Christmas itself... but more about that a little later.
Just the other day I was driving down Lafayette Street in Jefferson and glanced over to a storefront that has been closed for a long time. In fact, I don't even remember what the last business there was. Anyway, I saw a banner stretched across the front that said: The Barkery - Healthy Pet Treats, Supplies and More - Coming Soon. I hadn't heard anything about it, and have no idea who is opening it, but I'm excited. I'll definitely shop there to get goodies for our basset hounds. I remember the television show Providence starring Mike Farrell of M*A*S*H fame. One of his daughters had a doggie treat store that was also called The Barkery, and it looked like the kind of place that I'd shop. I can hardly wait for this new local shop to open its doors.
The weirdest thing has been going on for a couple of weeks now. I left the house one morning, and saw that the empty lot beside our house was full of birds - big, black ones that looked like buzzards. There was a dozen or more, and it was a very strange sight. For the next few days, they just sat in the trees in the area, looking down as if scoping out something to eat. It was more than a little creepy. They then moved over to the roof of my neighbor's house, where they would line the roof line and chimneys, from 5 or 6 of them to a dozen or more. I kept waiting for them to move over to The Grove - I had my camera ready for an awesome shot for the GroveZine. They never have, though; they are all around it, but will never come onto the property, or even in any of our trees. Very strange indeed.
As I mentioned earlier, for our anniversary and Christmas my wife and I spent some time at the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It's a beautiful, historic old place that opened on April 15, 1875 and over the years has welcomed a wide array of guests - from the sick and infirm who came for the healing waters of the hot springs, to VIPs coming to the resort in the mountains, to notorious gangsters like Al Capone. The hotel also has a number of ghost stories, although the hotel seems to be a bit secretive about them. I thought that it would be fun to wrap up the year by sharing some of the hotel's spirited side with the GroveZine readers.
I knew that the hotel didn't talk about its ghosts from our previous trips. When we were booking a room on a previous occasion, my wife told the person on the phone that we'd love to stay in any part of the hotel with supernatural activity. The lady said, "Oh, then I'll put you on our most haunted floor!" Upon arrival, we asked about that, and the desk clerk looked at us indignantly and flatly said, "There are NO ghosts here." Later in the trip we were sitting out at a table on their large porch, and I asked our waiter if he had any ghosts stories about the place. He smiled and said, "No, but I've heard a bunch. I'm only here for the summer break, but I'll send out the bartender when he's on break - he can tell you some amazing things!" A short time later the waiter came back out and nervously said, "Uh, there's no ghost stories here." He turned and walked quickly away.
Still, over the years I've had a number of people email me with their own ghost stories; some were former employees, others were guests there. Some of the things that happen are similar to occurrences at The Grove - taps on the shoulder, hair pulling, gentle nudges, or even laughter or a voice when no one else was there. Just like The Grove has the garden guy, the hotel has a man in a black suit that has been seen in the laundry room. The elevators also seem to operate by themselves - moving up and down with no riders punching the buttons. For some reason, the fourth floor seems to be a stopping point for the phantom riders.
One common story among employees is seeing a bellman in red coat and blue pants walking the hallways of the hotel. He seems dressed like someone from the past, so they glance back for another look, only to see that he has disappeared. Some people attribute the spirit to that of Henry Tweedle, a longtime bellman who has long since passed away. Mr. Tweedle's uniform is hanging in the museum room of the hotel as a tribute to the man and his service to the Arlington, so perhaps he does return for an occasional visit.
One specific story that someone sent me went as follows: "My husband and I got in late to room 756. About ten minutes after he went to sleep, I felt three tugs on the blanket at the end of the bed. A few seconds passed, then another tug. Although it did not make sense that it would be my husband moving his legs, I put my legs over his to monitor his movement. Two more tugs... not my husband. Then I felt a weight at the end of the bed between us. I have cats and to me that is what it felt like. I swished my leg under it. I could feel the weight, but it did not move until a few seconds later. It "walked" up between us. I was facing my husband. It stopped and was face to face with me for several seconds! The extremely strange thing is, although my heart felt as if it were going to beat out of my chest and I had the biggest goosebumps of my life, I was not scared. It then left its face to "face" position with me and was gone for a few seconds. Then two tugs, sitting between up again. It then walked (feeling like the weight of a cat) around the end of the bed on my legs. Again I AM NOT A BRAVE PERSON but I was not afraid."
So is the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs really the site of supernatural activity? Well, we didn't have anything out of the ordinary happen to us while we were there. I have, however, heard from a number of people who have first-hand stories from the stately old place. Clearly the hotel has a superstitious side - I'd heard that room 666 had been renamed to 667, and while we were there I confirmed this fact. Walking down the hallway on the sixth floor, the rooms are numbered 664, 665, 667, 668... that's room 667 in the photo, which is really technically room 666. No matter what, the Arlington Hotel is a fun, historic, luxurious place to visit. We'll definitely be back, and as always, we'll be keeping our senses open for anything a little out of the ordinary!
To close out the year, I wanted to pass on a photograph of The Grove that one of our guests sent us. He'd been on the tour earlier in the day, and that evening drove by to take a few night shots of the house. There were some interesting ones, but the most interesting photo was of the house lit up for Christmas. If you examine it closely, there appears to be a dark figure on the front porch, leaning over, blocking out part of the Christmas tree in the front window. Several things about this picture fascinate me. The first is that the figure seems to be bending over, or walking stooped over like an old man. The figure is also directly under the front porch light, so it would be at least somewhat illuminating a person standing there - yet this figure is black like a shadow. I also noticed that you can't see through it - the figure is blacking out part of the Christmas tree. Of course, whenever someone sends me a picture I immediately go out and try to duplicate it and find some way to explain it. In this case, I simply couldn't even come close. I know that we weren't outside that evening, and with the front gate locked, no one else would be on the property, so I have no physical explanation for it... which I find extremely interesting!
And with that, let's say goodbye to 2014. It's been a fun year of showing The Grove to visitors, and hearing the supernatural experiences that they've had here... and of course, sharing our own. I also enjoyed seeing many of you at paranormal conferences and other events, and having the chance to visit in person. I've also had a great time chronicling life at The Grove (and other supernatural things that we've found along the way) in the GroveZine. I really appreciate you being a part of our fun little 'zine family, and I hope that you've enjoyed it during the year. I look forward to 2015 with you, and wish each and every one of you a happy, healthy, and prosperous year to come. God bless!
Here's what's coming up around Jefferson...
1/23-1/25/2015 - Quilts on the Bayou annual quilt show
2/6-2/8/2015 - Mardi Gras Upriver celebration
3/20-3/22/2015 - Route 49 Biker Rally
3/21-3/22/2015 - Jefferson Gun & Knife Show
4/11/2015 - History, Haunts & Legends Spring Paranormal Conference
4/16-4/19/2015 - Diamond Don's Annual AHRMA Vintage Motocross
4/30-5/3/2015 - Jefferson's Annual Pilgrimage
5/16-5/17/2015 - Jefferson Train Days
5/20-5/22/2015 - Paddle Fish Festival
6/5-6/6/2015 - Annual Corvette Show
7/4/2015 - Jefferson Salutes America
8/1-8/8/2015 - Texas Sounds International Country Music Awards
8/15/2015 - Jefferson 4th Annual Civil War Symposium
10/9-10/11/2015 - Burn Run Benefit Bike Rally
11/7/2015 - History, Haunts & Legends Fall Paranormal Conference
12/3-12/5/2015 - Annual Candlelight Tour of Homes
...and much more throughout the coming year!
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