Archive for the ‘The Ghost of Mrs. Crouch’ Category

Really, Mrs. Crouch? You’re an editor now?

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

School Street c 1970

Traditionally, only the roadways leading into Oysterville were called “roads” — Territory Road coming from the south and Oysterville Road coming from the west.  All the rest of the roadways were called “streets.”   And so it is today.

But, usually people don’t really identify the places in the village by what road or street they face — especially in the case of the schoolhouse and the church.  There is only one of each and they are pretty obvious even to a first-time visitor.  Most of us residents don’t know what the actual addresses might be.

Some years ago, the State had occasion to replace the street sign where School Street intersects with State Route 103.  For some reason, they replaced it with a sign that said “School Road.”  The street is only one long block in length and it amused the residents greatly that the sign at the east end then said “School Street” while the one at the west end said “School Road.”  Eventually the state corrected their error and, once again, the signs agree.

Sign Predicament

Not that I gave that much thought when I wrote up an article for the Chinook Observer about the Schoolhouse Lectures that will resume (after a silent spring) tomorrow at the Oysterville School.  Imagine my surprise yesterday when I saw the headline and first paragraph of my story online and it gave an address for the school!  And, not only that, the wrong address.  “301 School Road” it said.  To make matters worse, for whatever reason, my byline was over the story making it look for all the world that I felt it necessary to post that erroneous address.

I sent Matt Winters a quick email pointing out the Road/Street discrepancy and asking why my lead paragraph had been changed.  He responded right away:  “I didn’t change anything, but I imagine people will find their way.”  Any angst I was feeling immediately dissolved in laughter — yes, I don’t think anyone will be looking in vain for the schoolhouse!

“Mrs. Crouch’s Typewriter”

But, if Editor Matt didn’t change that paragraph, who did?  Never before to my knowledge has the paper felt the need to clarify the location of an Oysterville building  by adding an address.  And why the wrong address at that?  I can only conclude that Mrs. Crouch is messing around once again.  Perhaps she’s not pleased that just yesterday I decided to write about her once again in the sequel to my Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula.  I even began drafting the story…

Come to think it, I wonder if she’s done any messing with that first draft on my computer.  If so, she’s getting pretty cheeky, don’t you think?  Stay tuned…

Yes. The blame definitely lies with Mrs. C.

Friday, October 11th, 2019

Julia Jefferson Espy c. 1895 — About Pastor Crouch: “Have we been harboring a wolf in sheep’s clothing?”

Considering the evidence, I’d definitely say that Sarah Crouch is toying with me!  And, actually, with some of my readers, too.  Here it is Halloween month when everyone’s interest in ghosts is at fever pitch and she seems to be interfering with the telling of her story.  And not only hers.  She seems to be holding up a lot of other stories about  ghosts who might have been acquainted with her right here on the Peninsula back in the 1890s..  In their 3-D days.

Yesterday morning, just after posting my blog about my name being up in lights to advertise the “Ghost Lecture” I’m giving at the Senior Center tomorrow (Saturday, October 12th, 11 a.m.), I realized that there was no date posted.  I notified the Senior Center but, as of this morning, I didn’t see a correction.

Yesterday afternoon, I took a look in the Observer’s Community Calendar to reassure myself that the time AND date had been posted there.  Much to my dismay, there was no announcement of the event at all.

Harry Espy: “Reverend Crouch preached two good sermons.” 1892)

Meanwhile, I’m waiting for an order of ghost books that I placed with my publisher on October 1st — almost two weeks ago.  It was a rush order and I was sure that it would be here in time to cover any sales generated by my Saturday book talk.  So far… no book delivery.  Added to that problem, two local businesses have called to order “all the ghost books I can give them — preferably to be delivered today.”   Aaauuggghh!

Speaking of ghosts…

It’s difficult for me to believe that all of these ghost book blockades are just coincidences.  I am inclined to believe that Mrs. Crouch has her hand in the matter… but why?  Granted, she is shy.  We know that from the testimony of the late Charlie Nelson who knew her when she lived here in Oysterville in the Parsonage in 1892.  But could her shyness outweigh her feelings about her husband’s behavior immediately before and after her death?   As Larry Murante has been singing for a very long time, “He was not a righteous man.”

Hard to know what Mrs. Crouch is thinking.  If, indeed, she is responsible, I hope she’ll ease up just a little and let the FedEx guy deliver books before today has ended.  Please?


Wow! My Name Up In Lights!

Thursday, October 10th, 2019


Yesterday as we drove south on the front road (Pacific Hiway, some call it), Nyel said, “Look!  Your name is up in lights!”  By the time that short sentence registered, of course, we were well past the Senior Center at Klipsan which is where the astonishing sign is located.  “It’s something about your ghost talk,” he said.  “Wow!  That’s a first!  Remind me to get a picture on our way home.”  And so, he did and I did.

I don’t think my name has ever before been up on any sort of reader board, electric or otherwise.  Suddenly, as I looked at that sign, the word “lecture” loomed and the “book talk” that I had agreed to do seemed a little more serious and very much more imminent.  I thought I had my remarks in mind… Now, I’m not so sure.  Perhaps I’ll spend today organizing my notes a little more seriously.

Speaking of ghosts…

I’m hoping Mrs. Crouch doesn’t notice  — not the sign, not my preparations and not this blog.  Several people have written me since Our Grand Affair asking if she’s gone missing.  They have reason to believe she accompanied them home.  Maybe so.  I’m not sure how ghost travel works and whether or not it would be possible for Mrs. C. to be in several places at once.

Come to think of it, she’s been exceptionally silent here for some time.  Even when we had a houseful earlier in the month, she kept a low profile.  An undetectable one, actually, which is unusual for Mrs. C.  We’ll see if she stays that way until my ghost talk on Saturday.  I’ll let you know — 11 a.m. at the Senior Center.



What do you think of this, Mrs. Crouch?

Sunday, October 6th, 2019

Seeing Double – by Barbara Canney

I love this “portrait” of me! It was taken by my friend Barbara Canney at Our Grand Affair — or at least part of it was.  Someone else (we’re not sure who) was sitting in chair in front and Barb wanted to crop her out (sorry!) but… she hit the button and suddenly the Mystery Woman was gone and there were two of me!

When I was about five, I went through a period of wanting an identical twin.  I think it was about the time that Willard’s oldest daughters, Mona and Freddy, were born.  They were twins, I was told, but they were not identical.  They didn’t look alike.  And they were both girls even though one had a boy’s name.

I processed all of that the best I could and decided that I wanted a twin, too.  But one that looked just like me.  And it had to be a boy, I decided.  Not a girl with a boy’s name.  I don’t know if I expressed that desire to my folks or not.  I only know that the following Christmas I received identical twin dolls — both girls (unfortunately, I thought) and I named them Mona and Freddy after my cousins.

Before Cloning by Barbara Canney

Obviously, I was a bit confused.  It was just about that time that I also thought all cats were girls and all dogs were boys.  Part of that might be attributed to the fact that we had a male puppy (Zipper) and the neighbors had a female cat with kittens.   Who knows?  It was also about that time that I remember being in Oysterville with our good family friends, the Montagues, and being plunked in the bathtub after a day at the beach with Kay who was two years older and Jimmy who was two years younger.  I don’t remember much about the boy and girl parts — just that it was too crowded in that tub!

Meanwhile… I wonder if Mrs. Crouch has seen the Double Sydney picture and what she thinks.  Or maybe she can see two of things at will.  I have about as much knowledge of ghosts at the age of eighty-something as I did of identical twins when I was five.  I think I’m a slow bloomer.  But… I’ve said for a long time that I wish I could clone myself.  This portrait by Barb may well be as close as I ever get.

Three outta four ain’t so bad, eh?

Friday, April 6th, 2018

Car Key!

Well, Nyel doesn’t really agree, but I’m thinking that we made great progress in the Lady Luck (or perhaps the Mrs. Crouch) Department yesterday. Three out of four big losses were solved!  Just like that!

First off, I found my car keys! (And just hours after we had ordered a replacement which will cost $250 for the key and another $70 to have it ‘programmed.’)  The key was in a pocket of my jacket – a pocket that I only vaguely knew was there.  And it wasn’t actually IN the pocket.  It was caught up high in the upper corner – kind of in a pocket peninsula.  I had checked it (and checked it and checked it) before.  Nothing.  This time I was picking the jacket up and felt something through the fabric…

I had long ago come to terms with the fact that the keys were in Montesano.  I was picking up the jacket to see if, by chance, Nyel’s checkbook was underneath it.  Nope. But, happily, Nyel found the checkbook a few minutes later – after, of course, he had put a hold on all our banking activity.  The check book was under the passenger seat in the car.  And while we were looking for it…


Yep! I found my old coin purse – lost since last December.  Still in it was $13 in cash and my debit card which I long ago cancelled and had replaced.  That coin purse was in the pocket on the back of the passenger seat in the car.  I must have put it there for some reason but I have no memory of doing so.  And why would I?

So… my car key, Nyel’s checkbook, my coin purse – all found within fifteen minutes of one another.  Still missing:  Nyel’s car key – the only one of the four missing items that we know for sure is in the house.  Go figure.

Coin Purse!

We called Bud Cleary’s to cancel the order for my car key.  It was a tad embarrassing as it had been only an hour since we placed the order.  “No,” the man said.  “Your order can’t be cancelled.  We’ve already cut the key.”  Say what?  Before I could make a great big noisy fuss all the way to Longview, he said, “…but we can’t make you buy it.”

I can only hope that we find Nyel’s key by Monday.  That’s drive-to-Longview-and-buy-his-replacement-key-day.  Come on, Mrs. Crouch! Work with us here!

Number One on My Hit Parade

Thursday, June 9th, 2016
Larry Murante

Larry Murante

Larry Murante is coming to town and all indicators are that he is bringing Mrs. Crouch with him.  “The Ballad of Mrs. Crouch” that is.  We know that her earthly remains have been in the Fern Hill Cemetery near Menlo since her mysterious drowning in 1892.  We also know that her ghost is never far from this house where she lived as the preacher’s wife for the year previously.  What Larry carries with him is the song about her that he wrote some years ago after his first stay here.

Yesterday on FaceBook, Larry posted a video of himself in performance at The Barn in Woodinville back in 2010.  He was playing his “Mrs. C.” song – that’s how he always refers to her: “Mrs. C.” – with this accompanying text:  This coming Saturday I will be performing a special “listening room” concert at the Peninsula Arts Center in Long Beach, WA. I’ll be performing several new songs from my upcoming new CD coming out in September. Doors open at 6:30 – concert at 7PM.  Be sure to make a reservation ( and hope to see you there!

Mrs Crouch - Track Five

Mrs Crouch – Track Five

I hope the message plus the video mean that Larry will be singing the #1 hit on my personal hit parade.  I’m not exactly sure what a “listening room” concert is, but we will definitely be there on Saturday.  If Mrs. Crouch isn’t part of the plan, maybe Larry will take a request.

It’s the refrain that I like the best.  It begins “I was never scared…” but I well remember Larry’s reaction when he first heard her story and learned he’d spent the previous night in the bedroom that she and the reverend had once occupied.  He paled, hurried through breakfast, gathered his belongings and left saying he’d love to come back but he’d bring his wife next time.  That was in 2003 after his first House Concert here.

He did bring his wife, Karen, the next time and it wasn’t too long after that that he wrote “The Ballad of Mrs. Crouch.”  The song puts a special twist on the facts of her life here in Oysterville.  I’ve always thought it was Larry’s particular brand of exorcism.  Mrs. C. must think so, too, because she has never bothered him during any of his subsequent visits.

All that notwithstanding… it’s a great song!  I hope you are there to hear it on Saturday!

Mrs. Crouch and My Keyboard

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Computer Guru

I wish I had realized what was going on before I called Mike’s Computer Repair.  The symptoms were maddening and were clotting up my life bigtime.  Every time I tried to write an email, the keys on my computer went wonky.  I’d be typing along and suddenly the letters simply wouldn’t show on the screen; a few eons later, they’d appear – sometimes what I’d typed; sometimes total gobbledygook.  For instance, when I hit the tab, nothing; four or five beats later it moved to the right as the letters “9Os7R” appeared.  Wotthehell?

Only in my email program.  Or did it happen when I was trying to write something in the Google search box?  Now I can’t remember… Whatever was happening was inconsistent, unpredictable and, usually it seemed to me, when I was in a hurry to get on with whatever it was.  When I finally put in my call for help and Zachary at Mike’s came to my rescue, it had been going on for days and days – maybe a week.

Mrs. Crouch's Typewriter

Mrs. Crouch’s Typewriter

Zachary was able to solve the problem remotely – by magic, if you ask me.  He wasn’t able to pinpoint what was going on – we couldn’t even replicate it and I felt vaguely like I’d been lying or, perhaps living in a parallel universe.  But, praise the gods, it’s fixed!  At least for now.

This morning I awoke to the thought that it must have been Mrs. Crouch, our resident ghost.  (If you don’t know of her, I commend to you my 2014 book, Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula.  She’s the star of Chapter One.) Perhaps she is trying to contact me again and, this time, has discovered the computer.  My first encounter with her, after all, involved a typewriter and there has never been a doubt in my mind that she was trying to communicate.  That was more than forty years ago, and though Mrs. Crouch has made herself known periodically in the meantime, this was the first actual computer attempt – and in the email program at that!

Tom Crellin House, c. 1930

Mrs. Crouch — still in residence?

Obviously, she’s mastered the basic concept.  It’s just that her keyboarding skills leave much to be desired.  I don’t really have another forty years to wait, so I hope she finds a way to shorten her learning curve.  I really don’t want to get the message, whatever it is, in person (so to speak.).  I’d much rather it come by mail.  E-mail, that is.  So, here’s my message to Mrs. C:  “You go girl!”  But, hopefully, on someone else’s keyboard until she’s got it down.  (I wonder if she thinks the ‘g’ in gmail stands for ghost? Or does she even know she’s a ghost.  And there she goes…messing with my mind and clotting up my time.  Again.)

The Beginning of a Ghostly Rampage?

Saturday, December 6th, 2014


My 12/05/14 Column

My 12/05/14 Column

This morning early I ducked out into the laundry room to see if the clothes I had put in the dryer last night had dried completely. Nope. So I set the dial at 20 minutes and proceeded with the first order of business for the day: coffee.

It had probably been a half hour when I went out to check the dryer again. Much to my amazement, the dryer door was ajar, the light inside was on and, the clothes were totally dry and still warm to the touch. That dryer door doesn’t open on its own; in fact, it’s rather hard to open it and I’ve smooshed more than one nail when I’ve been too hurried. Nyel was still tucked in bed and, besides that, he has not been out in the laundry room since before his September 9th surgery. And, it certainly was not I who had been out there a second time.

Cate's Column 12/05/14

Cate’s Column 12/05/14

Obviously, Mrs. Crouch is on the move. I hope this is an isolated incident and she isn’t gearing up for a real rampage. I’m trying to think what set her off. Perhaps she feels that she is getting too much attention these days what with the publication of Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula. Or, conversely, maybe she is jealous of Mary Pesonen, the other ghost who was the focus of my column in the Chinook Observer on Wednesday.  It’s hard to tell with Mrs. C. – or with any ghosts, for that matter.

The Observer’s editor, Matt Winters, did tell me that my ghost column is ‘generating plenty of readership’ and, perhaps for that reason, or perhaps due to Cate Gable’s wonderful profile of me in the same issue, several people have commented to me on my ‘forthcoming’ ghost book. I’ve been pleased to tell these folks that the book has been out since September and have bitten my tongue with regard to their reading skills. I think, perhaps, many people just read the headlines and skim the articles… Not that I’m never guilty of similar reading habits!

However and whatever people are reading, I hope they are aware that I’ll be talking about Mrs. Crouch, Mary Pesonen and several other ghosts of the Peninsula at the Pacific County Historical Society Museum beginning at 2:00 p.m. next Wednesday, December 10th.


And please invite ‘The Lady of the Bay’…

Monday, November 17th, 2014


PCHS Museum, South Bend

PCHS Museum, South Bend

The Pacific County Historical Society has invited me to do a Ghost Story Book Signing at the Museum in South Bend – Wednesday, December 10th at 2:00. I’m so excited and I hope that lots of people from North County come, even though the book is Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula.

            Not only will many of the places and names in the stories be familiar to our North County neighbors, but I also look forward to hearing about some of the haunted places across the bay. And, I’m especially interested in hearing anything that anyone knows about “The Lady of the Bay.

At the Oysterville Store -- Tucker Wachsmuth Photo

At the Oysterville Store — Tucker Wachsmuth Photo

My first knowledge of her came a few weeks back at the Ghost Story Event at the Oysterville Store. I was told that she was from “the other side” (of the bay, not the beyond) and that she sometimes appears rising up out of the water “around the curvy parts” of the bay, especially when it’s foggy. I would love to know more and I hope that some of the folks from across the way – Nemah, Bay Center, South Bend, Raymond, maybe even Naselle or Tokeland – know of her and will come to share with us.

I’m sure there must be other good ghost stories in the North County area. With places like Hangman’s Park and the creepy area under the dome of the courthouse (I was up there once and it is surely one of “those” places where ghosts might hang out), there must be some great stories. I’ve heard that there’s a ghost at the Raymond Theater, too.

Fern Hill Cemetery, Menlo

Fern Hill Cemetery, Menlo

I’ve been thinking about how local most ghosts are. They don’t seem to stray far from ‘home.’ People have told me that they have had Mrs. Crouch experiences in places other than our house, but I’m not sure how they are able to identify her. The book-signing at the Museum could be a ‘test.’ Presumably, Sarah Crouch is still buried in the Fern Hill Cemetery in Menlo – not too far from South Bend. Maybe she could pay a visit to the Museum on the 10th

Whether we get the benefits of ghostly attendance or not, I hope that we have a good audience turn-out. I’m looking forward to this new opportunity to introduce the stars of Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula. And the book will make a perfect Christmas present! It just invites curling up by the fire on a stormy winter evening…

You never can tell with ghosts…

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014
Oysterville Store, October 4, 2014

Oysterville Store, October 4, 2014

Seeing my name in print is always a bit startling, even when I expect it. Seeing it in handwritten print on a sign on the front door of the Oysterville Store the other day was not only unexpected but delightful! Right there in Greg’s distinctive printing! And in red!

It is, of course, the announcement of the book-signing event for Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula – this Saturday at 5 o’clock. “Sydney’s spooky stories told in Oysterville Store” it says. Hmmm. I’m hoping that the ‘t’ in ‘told’ might turn out to be a misprint. Maybe it should be an ‘s.’ You never can tell with ghosts…

Sign at the Oysterville Store

Sign at the Oysterville Store

For sure I’ll be introducing the ghosts in the book and telling a bit of the back stories about them and the people and places they haunt. Since three of those places are right here in Oysterville, there is always the possibility that there will be an unexplained visitor or two at the store that evening. Or, if we are lucky, some of the folks who have had first-hand experiences with these spirited souls will tell their side of things.

Available NOW!

Available NOW!

The book, of course, is more about the history of this area than it is about spooky stories. In some ways that probably makes it more shivery. The stories occur locally in recognizable places and are about real people (some you may even know) interacting with known or unknown people (or things) from the past.  There’s always the thought that you, too, could have a similar experience. Or maybe you have had and will share your stories on Saturday!

I’ve always thought that there might be the possibility of a sequel to this book. You never can tell with ghosts…