Tag Archives: story

Was it a Ghost? A Sliver of a Very Early Memory.

After some investigation, I think I can confirm that I would have been about 3 years old at the time of this memory. I remember making a visit to what I now know was a college campus. I remember the older buildings that just scream “college”. I remember the mature trees. I remember the weather was nice. I’m almost sure I remember music, like from an instrumental ensemble or orchestra. Often when I hear the popular graduation tune, Pomp and Circumstance, I flash back to this memory, though this visit wasn’t for a graduation. I’m not sure why the song stands out. I suppose it could be bleed-through from another memory, or perhaps there really was a group there playing it. My mother and I were apparently taking an uncle of mine to his freshman orientation, and it would have been in the summer of 1981.

 

Now to the important part of this memory…

…or at least the part that stands out and has remained in my head since then. I remember being on the upper floor of a building, in a foyer or hallway next to a set of stairs going down. When I picture it now, I picture the walls being white and everything being very bright. But the highlight of this memory is the kind smile and wave of a woman who was not familiar to me, peaking around the corner in a doorway. I’m sure my mother was engaged in a conversation ahead of us, and this woman was behind us. Clearly I was really cute and drawing attention from the ladies. That’s it. That’s the memory. 

 

Why that moment?

Now why in the world would that be a memory that I remember and still replay in my head 32 years later? Oh sure, it’s easy to look back now and embellish the memory or make it into something it’s not. It’s easy to picture the woman surrounded by an amazing and beautiful white light, but did it really happen that way? And why that memory? Why that exact moment? I don’t have a ton of memories from that age.

 

 

Was it a ghost?

As you probably know, it is said that young children frequently see spirits, before society gradually teaches them that this is not acceptable. So was it a ghost? A family member who passed before I was born? Or was it just a random stranger who managed to find herself in a starring role in the cloudy memory of a toddler? I may never know… but whenever anyone asks me if I’ve seen a ghost, my memory takes me back to that day.

 

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Children who have spirit friends (Big Séance)

Children who have spirit friends (Big Séance)

 


A fascinating sketch, from what I remember.

On that day, I had been teaching in a room that wasn’t mine. Occasionally, weird schedule things happen at school, like someone having to use my larger room to photograph groups for the yearbook, or sometimes I end up subbing for another teacher on my plan period. As a middle school teacher, you learn to roll with things like this. So for part of that day, the kids and I were in a more traditional classroom that is very different from the two rooms that I call home when I’m at school. 

At the end of the day, a student from one of those earlier classes dropped by to hand me a very nice looking piece of artwork… a beautifully detailed sketch. She was on her way to the bus, so in a rush I thanked her for the gift that was clearly the result of a lot of time and patience… and heart.

For every year, I keep a folder with the title “Treasures” written on the tab, and I knew that this sketch was going in. One of my professors in undergrad suggested I do this, and so right now I have twelve of them, one for every year. Each one is stuffed with various awkwardly shaped items, and so at this point they take up almost an entire drawer of my large file cabinet.  

After the halls cleared and the buses were leaving, I got a better look at the sketch as I was walking back toward my office. There I was. Though it was a cartoony version of myself, it was a perfect likeness. It was from the perspective of this student from earlier in the day in the other teacher’s classroom. I was behind the desk in the front corner of the room. The details were amazing. Everything from that room was in this drawing. What made it really special were the words, similar to those wordle things that are so popular now, that were creatively added around me on the paper. These words represented qualities that this student sees (I’m assuming) in me, such as “kind”, “compassion”, “funny”, “music”, etc. Seeing this made my heart melt in one of those moments that any teacher experiences when they receive a gift like this. But I do remember thinking, it’s too bad the setting of this sketch wasn’t in one of our own music classrooms. Ah well. Good kid. 

I opened the top file cabinet drawer and was just about to file it in “Treasures 13-14”, when something caught my attention. There was a detail from the sketch that I had completely missed. Are you kidding me? In the opposite corner of the front of the room, as if in the shadows, this student had drawn an older woman standing out of the way. She wasn’t a part of any of the activity going on in the room. She was merely present, though she appeared to have watchful eyes. There was NO older woman present with us in that classroom earlier! The hairs immediately stood up on my neck and arms, and a chill went through my entire body. I recognized those eyes. I recognized the hair. No. It couldn’t be! Or could it? The older woman appeared to be the late Verna Marie Owen, better known as Miss Owen, from several of my recent blogs.

Was my mind playing tricks on me? Did I just have a strange, yet creative student? (She certainly wouldn’t be the first!) Or does she simply have an exceptional ability that most do not? Was this her way of letting me know that a certain someone was keeping an eye on our learning activities? Cool! No… creepy. Both!

I grabbed my phone from the nightstand and fumbled for my glasses. It was close to 5am. Though I added a few creative details to keep you reading, most of this dream was typed out in a simple note on my iPhone… from what I remember.  

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“So, I had this dream…” (The Voices Blog)

Why did the full-blown apparition cross the road? (Big Séance)

The Hand That Rocks Your Dreams (Big Séance)

Being Able To Read In Your Dreams (Big Séance)

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The Mystery of the Cup Tree…

I’ve been out of town for about four days now visiting family and now vacation. Currently we are in a beautiful condo at the Lake of the Ozarks here in Missouri. My parents also have a lake lot (no house yet) about 30 minutes away from where we’re staying, and so we’ve spent some time there on the dock and fishing, etc. Until today I hadn’t really been fishing since I was a kid, at least not that I remember. It was kind of fun, as long as someone was there to take care of the slimy things. I discovered I don’t have the patience for fishing for catfish and staring in a trance at the fishing line just waiting for what looked like the line being pulled. I started seeing things, experiencing visual pareidolia, like grilled Cheesus, except on the sparkling water. No, I prefer casting colorful and flashy fishing lures out into the water and reeling them back in, over and over. Much better. It was kind of fun. And I actually caught a fish (going by the official rules set by my sister), although I had one and it flopped off before getting it out of the water. The fish that I officially caught was tossed back in.

The area around my parents’ lake lot is somewhat secluded and not nearly as popular (yet) as many areas on the lake. Lots of winding roads, up and down hills, woods all around you. It would be quite an experience in the dark, I’m sure. And Jason Voorhees would LOVE this place. Chi Chi Chi Ha Ha Ha. (That’s me doing the scary sound effects. Friday the 13th nerds will get it.)

The Cup Tree

The Cup Tree

But if the seclusion or the hillbilly neighbors don’t creep you out, maybe the story of the Cup Tree will? Of course, it depends on what story you hear. The famous cup tree, a bizarre roadside attraction, is not far from the lake lot. The road is even called “Cup Tree Drive”. Looking at this picture you can probably imagine a story in your head to go with it. The story I heard from a local, with obvious holes in it, involves a woman who invited men into her home for tea. She’d kill them and nail a cup on the big oak tree for each one of them. Some say she buried the bodies in the back yard. Some also say she went to jail.  According to ruralmissouri.org, the cup tree has been a popular attraction since the 1950s. The site also says that the land and tree was “originally owned by local resident Fred Moore, the phenomenon’s origins are a mystery shrouded in years of ever-changing explanations and folklore. The current owner is no more forthcoming with a plausible explanation as to why generations of tourists have left cups, saucers and even tea and coffee post dangling from the tree.” I’m unable to find any of the other stories of the cup tree online. Perhaps readers from this area in Missouri could help us or maybe fill in the gaps of the story I told.

The Shoe Fence

The Shoe Fence

If you plan to visit the cup tree, plan on staying on the road long enough to also see the “shoe fence” nearby. (Ruralmissouri.org also includes directions to both attractions.) After seeing this spectacular fence we decided to consider starting something like this near my parents’ lot… perhaps an underwear post. (Imagine the stories we could make up for that one!) Surely we’ll make millions. I’ve already got the t-shirts designed in my head.

I’ll leave  you with a Vimeo I found. Maybe the story of the cup tree went more like this?

 

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Route 66: Bourbon Hotel and John’s Modern Cabins (Big Séance)

 


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