A Ghost Talk and Tell-Tale Signs

It was cold and I was glad that I had worn my winter jacket.  I was glad, too, that my yellow rainhat was in my pocket – the smoky fog was just on the verge of wet enough.  And the wind made me wish that I’d stuffed my blue knit hat – the one Rosemary made me – into my other pocket.

“Why am I doing this again?” I asked myself.  I was on my way to the Benson Beach Amphitheater at Cape D to give a ghost talk.  But, I often feel that way just before a gig, so I sucked it up and looked for one of the park personnel – usually a volunteer who introduces me and offers to get me a chair so I won’t have to stand for an hour.  This year, though, no-one showed up – that is no-one from Parks.

Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula

The amphitheater, on the other hand, filled to over-flowing.  Adults, kids, dogs, people in wheelchairs.  I wish I had counted.  More than 50 I think.  As we waited for folks to gather, I talked with a three-generational family from Bellingham.  “We camp here every year,” they told me.  When I commented that the Park looked fuller than usual – full to capacity, I thought – they said, “No.  It’s always like this in August.  We have to make our reservations in October if we want a spot.”  I wondered to myself what months I had been there in past years.  Maybe July.  Certainly I had never noticed so many campers before.

Other folks joined our conversation – people from Auburn and from Idaho.  We talked about the smoke – really bad in Bellingham they said.  They were glad to be here.  “The air quality index was 146 the other day,” they said.  “In Beijing (supposed to be the worst in the world), it was in the 80s.  We’re glad we’re here right now!”

The Grandpa from Bellingham left for a few minutes and came back carrying a lovely padded armchair from their campsite for me!  Wow!  Let the talk begin!  (Afterwards, I realized that I hadn’t even used it and apologized profusely.  “No problem!” he laughed.  What a great group!  In fact, the whole crowd was receptive and enthusiastic.  Maybe overly so in the case of a couple of little kids – maybe first or second graders.

Sydney with 2nd Grader, Southgate School, Hayward, CA – 1962

They came right down in front and perched on the green utility box where they proceeded to call out comments and questions as soon as I began to speak.  I stopped and said, “You know, for a while it’s my turn to talk.  You’ll get a chance when I’m finished.”  The little girl dashed back up the stairs to her family but the boy – not related – immediately put his hand up where it mostly stayed for the next hour, even after a reminder that he could ask his questions later. (After 29 years in primary classrooms – I KNEW that kid!)

All-in-all it went well.  Appreciative applause.  Questions about where they could purchase my ghost stories book.  And the Bellingham family lingered to talk.  “You were a teacher, weren’t you?” the mom asked.  “Primary?”  When I conceded that she was correct she said, “I could tell by the way you dealt with those kids!  My mom is probably about your age and she was a teacher too.”  We corroborated the birth years – yep, 1936! – and found that we had both taught in California – I in the Bay Area, she in Fresno.”

I wasn’t surprised about the tell-tale signs.  That teacher voice and teacher look never go away.  Thank goodness!

One Response to “A Ghost Talk and Tell-Tale Signs”

  1. Jo Lucas says:

    When you meet happy, genial strangers it is a reminder that most people are friendly, caring, thoughtful people. Some days you encounter mostly the other kind.

    [Reply]

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