"Maybe all the people who say ghosts don't exist are just afraid to admit that they do." - Michael Ende
Hello from Jefferson, Texas! If you recall last month's GroveZine, you probably remember that I broke my toe. I don't know when I've received that many emails about a post in the 'zine. Some were pleas for me to get to a doctor, others had advice of one kind or another, and a couple had really wanted to see the toe pointing out in a weird direction (no, I didn't take that photo... my wife - the voice of reason in our family - felt like it would freak too many people out). It was the toe that corresponds to the "ring finger" of my right hand, so my regiment for about six weeks was to take the first aid tape that I bought at Dollar General, and roll it around my little toe, the broken toe, and the middle toe. Basically, the other two toes acted as a splint for the broken one. I thought that I was doing well, but I was at a symposium a few days ago and ran across a fellow that I'd met before. In talking to him, I noticed that he was wearing a medical boot; when I asked him what was wrong, he told me that he broke one of his little toes. I said, "Hey, so did I!" He said that it was in a dumb, toe-stubbing accident. I said, "Hey, mine too!" He said that when he went to the doctor, the toe was splinted and he was put in the boot for six weeks. I said, "Ummmm, I just kinda wrapped mine up with some stuff that I got from the dollar store." He looked at me like I was crazy. Oh well, at this point in my life, I'm getting used to that stare from people.
Living in Jefferson, we're only an hour from Shreveport where a lot of top-name performers come to play. We were delighted to get tickets to see Robert Earl Keen play at Margaritaville Casino. It was an intimate venue, and I don't think that there was a bad seat in the house. He did a few songs from his new bluegrass album, but the encore was an acoustic version of "The Front Porch Song," which we loved. It was a wonderful performance, and we're looking forward to seeing R.E.K. again. If you ever have the opportunity to see him, don't miss the show!
And speaking of music, I had a visit this month from my friend Rahim Quazi, an incredible musician from the DF/W Metroplex. He has a new album out named "Ghost Hunting," although it's not actually about that... the title is more of a metaphor. He and I had such a personal conversation about the music from this album at The Bayou Bakery downtown one day that I don't want to go into the details, but I hear both hope and pain in the album. It's amazing. One kind of interesting footnote to the album is that because of the title, Rahim wanted to use a panoramic photo of the parlor and dining room of The Grove for the interior of the CD cover. That's it below:
The album apparently hit with a splash, because as I write this month's GroveZine, I see that on Amazon it's #185 in MP3 Downloads for Adult Alternative Albums. You can find it on Amazon.com by clicking this link.
On a completely different topic, we have acquired a new antique for the house - it's a baptismal font. My wife and I were in an antique store, and something about it just spoke to both of us. We asked about the history of the piece, and found that it came from the Shrine of St. Jude in Our Lady of Guadalupe on Rampart Street in New Orleans. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the oldest church building in New Orleans and was built in 1826 as a funeral church called The Mortuary Chapel. It was originally so named due to its role as the last stop for the many yellow fever victims of early New Orleans history, where the dead would be given the rites, then ushered through the back to the nearby St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. For decades now, it has featured a powerful shrine to St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes, just to the left of the Altar, which contains an actual relic - a bone - of this revered saint. You will often find countless candles burning. Outside, to the left of the Church, is the tallest statue of St. Jude in the world, which acts as a beacon of the continued importance of the poor and needy to this charitable parish. Our Lady of Guadalupe Church features a Marian grotto, where the Virgin Mother is honored and there is a box for donations to the poor. A statue of Saint Expedite at the church is also visited by Catholics, as well as some local followers of Voodoo. There's a lot of history in that place, and now the baptismal font has found a home at The Grove. We were told that the owner of the antique store purchased it and several other items from the church when they were remodeling, and it sat in the antique store for a long time because although people would look at it, no one felt compelled to buy it... kind of like The Grove when we found it, I guess.
FINALLY!!! After running several months past my deadline, continuing to find new facts and material to add, I am ELATED to announce that the new book has finally been released... Diamonds and Death - The True, Tragic Tale of Diamond Bessie Moore. It's been quite a journey of discovery over the last year, and I'm satisfied that I've put together what is hopefully the definitive work on the subject. The 1877 murder of Diamond Bessie in Jefferson is still technically an unsolved case, although I truly believe that the man who was tried, convicted, and then subsequently acquitted, was the killer. You can find out more about the book by clicking on this link. We recently had a book release reception for it at Excelsior House here in Jefferson with a great turn-out (the photo is from that night). Sales of the book that evening benefited the Diamond Bessie Murder Trial Play that is put on every Spring here in town.
I tell a story on the tour of The Grove about a friend of mine who looked at the house about a year before we did. He said that when they arrived, the real estate agent unlocked the front door and he and his wife walked inside. The stopped in their tracks after only a few steps... he said the house felt suddenly menacing and oppressive - like they weren't welcome or wanted there. They looked at each other, and then immediately turned around and left. As I was relating that story on a recent tour, a gentleman spoke up and said, "The same kind of thing happened to me!" I love hearing impromptu stories about the house from our guests, so I immediately asked him to tell us what happened. He said that he'd been to Jefferson in the 1990s, when The Grove was a restaurant, and they had stopped in for a meal. While waiting just inside the front door for someone to come seat them, he said that he noticed a bad "feeling" to the house. It was much the same as I described from my friend - foreboding, overbearing, oppressive. The fellow telling the story said that before anyone could come help them, they quickly left. When I asked him how the house felt on the tour, he said that it was fine. "I wondered if the same thing was going to happen," he said, "but everything feels very peaceful today!"
And keeping with the theme of guests sharing stories, we had a tour with a small group of ladies on it a couple of weeks ago. It was a good group, and we had a lot of fun, and afterwards I walked everyone outside. I then came back in and started turning off lights and blowing out candles, when there was a knock on the front door. I went back and opened it, and several of the ladies were standing there. One of them finally said, "Do you have a ghost cat?" Well, if you've been reading the GroveZine for any length of time, you know that we've had people experiencing a cat rubbing up against their legs in the house for as long as we've been here, only to look down and see that there is nothing there. As far back as four owners, The Grove has always had cats, so apparently some of them come back periodically. But to continue the story, I answered, "Yes, I'm pretty sure that we do." One of the ladies pointed to her friends and said, "They made me come back and tell you this. During the tour, I had something rubbing up against the back of my legs, just like cats do. I didn't say anything about it at the time, but I did look down and there was no cat - or anything else - near my legs!" I told her that it had certainly happened before, and as I closed the door, I couldn't help but think about our cats Elsie & Daphne (Elsie is in the photo). I wonder if they'll be coming back to visit future owners?
And finally, we were having lunch at the Bayou Bakery last week here in Jefferson, and some friends invited us to join them at their table. There were a couple of empty seats, and they said that some business associates were joining them. When the couple came in we were introduced to them, and our friends told them that we owned The Grove. They immediately said, "Oh, we toured The Grove a couple of years ago, and our daughter had an experience there! We were on the tour, and someone was playing with her hair." They said that she kept looking around at both of them, accusing them of doing it, but they swore that they weren't touching her. "Something... or someone... was," they said. "There's no doubt about that."
As I close out this GroveZine, I'll say that I'm happy to see the hottest month of the year pass... we've been watering as many plants as possible to keep them alive, and it's been one of those summers where you walk outside and are instantly bathed in sweat. It's been brutal, but the temperatures are starting to drop a little. For that, we're extremely thankful! I also feel a wave of relief that the Diamond Bessie book has finally come out. It's been such a long time coming, that it feels good to get on with future projects. With all that, I'll say a heart-felt good-bye, and thanks for reading the GroveZine. If you weren't reading it, I wouldn't be writing it, and I'd truly miss that. See you next month!
Here's what's coming up around Jefferson...
8/22/2015 - Jefferson Gun & Knife Show
9/4/2015 - Historic Jefferson Railway Labor Day Celebration
9/12/2015 - 5th Annual Jefferson Fire Brigade Benefit Classic Car Show
10/9-10/11/2015 - The Original Bigfoot Conference 2015
10/9-10/11/2015 - Burn Run Benefit Bike Rally
11/7/2015 - History, Haunts & Legends Fall Paranormal Conference
12/3-12/5/2015 - Jefferson's Candlelight Tour of Homes
1/22-1/24/2015 - Quilts on the Bayou annual quilt show
...and much more throughout the coming year!
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