www.thegrove-jefferson.com                                July 2017                                 ISSN 1558-3252

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science." - Albert Einstein

     Hello everyone! July started out with Jefferson's annual Independence Day celebration, which as amazing as always. Everything starts out in Otstott Park downtown, which has everything that you can imagine for a small-town July 4th celebration: a kid's parade around the park, a homemade ice cream contest, and it even comes complete with a brass band in the gazebo. This one was out of Shreveport, Louisiana, and they did patriotic numbers all afternoon long.

     This year I volunteered to help our local Boy Scout Troop 555 (the "triple nickle" as we call them) with their fundraiser - selling hot dogs. Now while it may seem like a brutal thing to spend several hours standing over a fire pit on the hottest day of the year, we actually had a lot of fun. The scoutmasters were giving direction, the boys were doing everything from making and dressing the dogs to peddling them to the crowd, and we made some money for the kids to put toward their camp fund. It was a blast!

     The big news in Jefferson was that a train wreck/derailment happened this month. Two different rail lines that go through town apparently have an intersection under the bridge on Highway 59, and something went terribly wrong. The collision even knocked out one of the support pillars of the bridge, so traffic had to be diverted for a day. Engineers from the Texas Department of Transportation came out and inspected it, and allowed two lanes to stay open. We were in a construction zone for the rest of the month, but things finally opened back up. Still, it was the blockbuster story in Jefferson for quite some time. In a peaceful little town like this, it doesn't take a lot to make headline news!

     One new thing that's been happening around town is that painted rocks have been showing up all over the place. The one in this photo was on a historical marker in front of the County Courthouse in Jefferson. I've seen them everywhere, though! There was even a news story about them in our local newspaper, the Jimplecute. I finally went online to see if I could find out what was going on, and I found a link to the "Kindness Rock Project." Click on this link to read about it. It's kind of fun seeing them turn up here and there, and while I have no idea who's putting them out, I think that it's kind of cool.

     In this month's GroveZine, I'm excited to share some ghost stories from one of my favorite places - the Jefferson General Store. I don't think that there's a visitor to town who doesn't make at least one stop there, but the locals tend to frequent it as well. And how could you not? Ice cream by the scoop, a soda fountain, 5-cent coffee, and about a million things to look at. For me, I have to go in every week for lunch and pick up a couple of Moody Dogs (a Jefferson tradition for years), or if it's not lunchtime I'll stop by for one of their delicious pecan pralines. I had one today, in fact!

     But the building itself has been around since the 1800s. It was once a hardware store named Ballauf & Co. In fact, according to the Shreveport Times newspaper, Abe Rothschild purchased a gun and bullets there in January 1877 that he used to kill the legendary "Diamond Bessie" Moore. The building has quite a history... and maybe even a bit of supernatural activity. It is featured on the Historic Jefferson Ghost Walk every weekend, and I've had the opportunity to talk to the the owners, manager, and many people who have worked there over the years. All report that interesting things tend to happen there. One young man named Nate who worked there wrote about his experiences, and was kind enough to allow me to share them with the GroveZine readers. All that said, here are some first-hand tales of the Jefferson General Store...

     Having worked at the Jefferson General Store for several months, I had become accustomed to the Ghost Walk coming in every Friday and Saturday night to listen to ghost stories about Jefferson and the store. However being extremely sceptical, I didn't believe a word that anyone said on the topic of ghosts and the supernatural. This was true until one Friday night when I was working from 4 to 10pm. I'd come straight from school and was taking over the duties of the soda fountain and - when I wasn't busy - the folding of tee shirts. I was tired from a long day at school and the slow stream of visitors that was trickling in. The torrential rain showers that evening didn't help, either - it only reinforced my overwhelming desire to go and take a catnap upstairs.

     I was not at work alone that night, but since it was so dead my other coworkers were out in the store, cleaning samples and organizing the toys in the back room. I set to work cleaning behind the counter, waiting on the few customers as they came up to the register, and stocking spoons and napkins. While I was daydreaming and occupying myself with washing dishes, I noticed a small boy go up the stairs to the office. I had a view of almost the whole store from the mirror in front of the sink. Before I corrected him and asked for him to come back down, I looked to see who he could be with, as I hadn't seen any other patrons for a few minutes. No one else was there, so I decided to go and tell him to come down. As I stood at the base of the stairs I saw a young boy at the top, light hair, wearing overalls and no shirt. I thought this was strange, but before I called for him to return I was surprised by one of the other General Store employees walking behind the counter on the other end. When I turned to call the little boy down I was surprised to see that he was no longer there. I went to see if he had gone further into the office or even slipped up the stairs to the third floor, but I could not find him. I asked the rest of my coworkers if they had seen him elsewhere in the store or saw a family to which he might belong, but both of those came up empty handed. No one but me had seen the little boy.

     The next night at work I had a distinct sense of deja vu. It was still raining and things were very slow, and I had almost completely forgotten the last night's encounter. As I stood there washing dishes again, I heard someone walk behind me whistling. Not thinking much of it, I continued my task. As I finished and turned the water off, I saw someone in the mirror rush past me. The counter didn't give a great deal of space to those of us behind it, and I imagined that I would have felt someone brush against me as they went by. I turned to see if a visitor had went astray and decided to have a look at the innermost working of the General Store. Glancing in both directions behind me, I was puzzled; if anyone had gone behind me, then there was no reason for me not to see them. The whistling had stopped and I went to find the other workers to see if it had been one of them. I learned that they had been together stocking the drink display in the back room... no one was out where I was.

     The very next time that I saw the Ghost Walk come in I stopped Jodi, the leader of the tour, and told her about what I had experienced. She asked me about the details and what all had happened. In the end she decided that I had seen Roy, a young boy who was killed in the General Store when he fell off of one of the rolling ladders that lines the wall in the store. He had been killed almost one hundred years ago when the building was still a hardware store. Apparently he is usually not seen, just heard, but she explained that he enjoys sneaking up on people and whistling behind them only to toss something to the floor and vanish without a trace. Since that time I have been very aware of the activities that take place in that store. Having been there for almost three years, I have seen quite a great deal more. However, the first experience is the one that has been with me the longest, and will forever stick in the back of my mind as the time I was visited by a little boy who has passed on but still likes to whistle.

     Pretty interesting stories about the Jefferson General Store, right? Thanks so much to Nate for sharing his first-hand experiences with us. The place has motion-activated security cameras throughout, and I've been told that on many a morning they've come in to find that the cameras had come on during the night, but when they replayed the video, nothing... no human, that is... was there. These fascinating stories about the General Store go on and on, and I've got to admit, when I go in for a Moody Dog, I always keep my eyes open, just in case!

Here's what's coming up around Jefferson...

10/6 - 10/8/2017 - The Original Texas Bigfoot Conference
10/14/2017 - Grillin' on the Bayou, Jefferson Eggfest
10/13-10/15/2017 - Burn Run Benefit Motorcycle Rally
11/25/2017 - Jefferson Christmas Parade
12/7-12/9/2017 - Candlelight Tour of Homes
...and much more throughout the coming year!

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