It’s the first of October. With a turn of a calendar page, I become giddy with excitement. The air is a bit colder, the leaves areÂ a variety of colors and falling to the ground, and it’s time to break out the pumpkin recipes. October has always been my favorite month. I love the colder weather and all that it brings. Football season, homecoming parades, corn mazes, picking out your own pumpkin, and rediscovering your favorite warm sweater that has been in storage all summer long. My favorite month is capped off with my favorite holiday, Halloween.
I love Halloween for a variety of reasons (my earliest was free candy), but one is the ghost stories. The days are shorter, the wind howls outside your window, there’s a chill in the air, and it’s the perfect atmosphereÂ to hear about paranormal happenings. My love for spooky things originally stemmed from It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and Garfield’s Halloween Adventure, but I graduated to Christopher Pike novels and collections of ghost stories I’d pick up at my school’s book fair. Granted, most of the ghost stories I heard and told back then were urban legends, I did have some verified local legends to pass along to my friends.
Great-grandpa Fred was a storyteller. In his thick German accent, he’d sit down and tell a story to anyone who would listen. He died a year before I was born, but we have some tape recordings of him telling many local stories. He was a strong believer in ghosts and told the following story with great seriousness.
In theÂ early 1900s,Â a neighbor had killed his wife. She was going down the steps to fetch some food and he came up behind her and stabbed her. Word got out, he was arrested, and was sent to theÂ local jail. Being this was near a small village, everyone knew him and what he had done. My great aunt was walking the few miles to town and looked up to see the neighbor who had murdered his wife walking towards her on the walking path. She was rather shocked to see him, being that he was supposed to have been in jail.Â Not wanting to provoke him, she stepped off the path without a word and let him pass. He walked past her, without a word or a glance in her direction, and she got back on the walking path and hurried to town, eager to tell people that the neighbor was out ofÂ jail. My great aunt received quite a shock when she arrived in town to the buzz of gossip that the neighbor had committed suicide in jail the night before. My great aunt had no idea that she had stepped aside to let a ghost pass by.
My best friends lived on the farm of where the murder happened (the house had been torn down and another built in another location). They lived the next farm over from me, and we spent many days walking through the woods between our farms.Â Every October, when Halloween was in our sights, someone would bring up the storyÂ about the ghostly neighbor and we’d pretend to be ghostbusters and try and find him. We’d scare ourselves to the point we’d go running to the safety of the house, screaming the entire way. We never did find him.
I love a good ghost story, especially when they are in your backyard. What’s your favorite local ghost story?