Posts Tagged ‘The Ghost of Mrs. Crouch’

Another of Life’s Little Mysteries

Monday, February 25th, 2019

The Little Bedroom

In our house, if something strange can’t rightfully be attributed to Mrs. Crouch (our resident ghost), Nyel has the perfect catch-all category. Mrs. C. usually gets credit for doors that swing open for no reason or for pictures that suddenly fall off the wall and, always, for anything that goes missing.  She still has Nyel’s car keys from last March!

But, in a big and ancient house like ours, “shit happens” as they say.  Nyel, ever the gentleman, has never adopted that particular phrase (no matter how descriptive.)  He simply shrugs and says, “another of life’s little mysteries.”

A prime example has happened within the last few weeks.  Or more accurately, the discovery has been made that recently. I was upstairs laying out fresh towels and double-checking for dust and cobwebs last week in preparation for a visit from the cousins and, much to my amazement, found a large paint-less spot on the floor of the “little bedroom.”  It’s a room seldom used and has a brightly painted teal-colored floor.  There, between the bed and the nightstand was an area about the size of the lid of a small yoghurt  carton that is completely devoid of paint!

Mystery Spot in the Little Bedroom

How could that have happened?  Maybe something spilled and took the paint right off?  But what?  And when?  As always in situations like this, I wonder if it’s been like that for some time and I just now noticed.  But wouldn’t some guest have mentioned it?  Actually… probably not.  People are usually too polite to point out household defects or blemishes.

So, the only thing to do is to move forward.  As in, do we still have any of that particular floor paint left?  And if I just sand the edges around the area and clean the surface carefully, will a couple of swipes of paint do the trick?  Of course, it’s one of those things that I’d ordinarily leave to Nyel, but his going-upstairs days are on hold for the foreseeable future. Where are the relatives of those shoemaker’s elves, anyway?

Upstairs in Our House

Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

Killer Stairs

I love the upstairs in our house.  But, for the last few years, I don’t love the killer stairs I must climb to get there.  I think the biggest reason for my lack of ascension (just to the upper story, not to heaven) is arthritically related.  That and the fact that my Aunt (by marriage) Cleo fell down these very stairs when she was twenty years younger than I – due to a breaking hip Dr. Campiche said.  That thought is frightening, even though Cleo survived.

But when I do go up – to get guest rooms ready for visitors, mostly – I do love it.  There are four bedrooms up there, all very different from one another, and over my 80+ years, each has been “mine” at one time or another.  No matter how much time passes, I still feel the age and circumstances of my occupancy of that particular room.

In the Little Room

The Little Room on the northwest side is the first one I remember.  It was my room from the time of my first visit here to my Granny and Papa’s in 1938.  My clearest memory of it was of waking up crying and my grandmother coming in and making everything all right.  I think I had wet the bed – a circumstance that had not happened to me, apparently, for some time, and I was frightened and disoriented until Granny came to the rescue.  Interestingly, I don’t remember the trauma as much as I remember my grandmother’s warm embrace and soothing murmurs.

Next door to the south is the Pink Room.  It was mine throughout my teenage years whenever I was in Oysterville.  The summer before my sophomore year in high school my best friend Joanne and I came up from California to work at Dorothy Elliott’s Camp Willapa.  We spent our ‘time off’ here in Oysterville and shared that room.  As I remember, we took full advantage (maybe only once) of the fact that we could get out by climbing down the roof and onto the top of our boyfriends’ Model A.  Neither Joanne nor I could ever remember how we got back into the house.  Not a good room for teenagers!

View from the East Bedrooms

The room always called the “North Room” is on the east side of the house and has a view to the north and a balcony to the east – a balcony from which there is a fabulous view of the bay.  It’s the biggest bedroom and, these days I think of it as my son Charlie’s room, but it is also the first choice for guests.  It’s the bedroom that I was ‘assigned’ by my Aunt Mona when I first came to Oysterville with a husband but my main memory of it is that it was in the desk of that room that I first found my aunt Medora’s diary.  I was 12, and as I look back on that discovery, I believe it was the beginning of my interest in family history and in the history of this area, in general.

Florence Sewing Machine – Patented 1850

Finally, there is the “Master Bedroom” with its magnificent east-facing view.  It belonged, in turn, to my grandparents, to my parents, and then to Nyel and me.  (When the stairs got too much for  each generation, we each in our turn moved to the downstairs bedroom which was originally the parlor.)  Now that Master Bedroom it is furnished with twin beds on the theory that when we have a full house, there are people who might share a room, if not a bed.

Except for those twin beds, all of the rooms upstairs still contain their original furniture, right down to old-fashioned springs and mattresses on two of the beds.  No one ever complains, nor do they mention any inconvenience about the tiny bathroom which is central to all the bedrooms and has been somewhat modernized with each generation.  And, distinctive to the connecting hallway are the transoms above each bedroom door – the 1869 answer to nighttime air circulation, I suppose.  The only other memorable feature of the upstairs is that, according to some, our resident ghost hangs out there.  Keep those transoms closed, I say!  More might be circulating than air.

Nyel, Mrs. Crouch, and the Great Pumpkin

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

Nyel’s Left Leg

Yesterday’s trip to Rebound netted Nyel a good report on progress thus far.  He was dismissed within a half hour and headed home minus the rest of his stitches, accompanied by copies of his latest X-rays and an appointment in four more weeks.  Plus, of course, the stern admonition, “Put no weight on your left foot.  None.”

The X-ray reveals eight (although the Dr. said there are more than nine) spikey looking screws that affix the metal plate to his shinbone.  Not a pretty sight!  If we hadn’t felt ready for Halloween before, we do now!  Maybe, like our ghostly Mrs. Crouch, the scary looking bone and its accoutrements is invisible, but we know it’s there!  All the time.

Spotty Delivery by the Great Pumpkin

We are also about ready to blame Mrs. C. for the disappearance of Nyel’s wedding ring.  Never mind that he’s lost enough weight so that, for the first time in 30-some years, it can just off his finger.  The fact that we’ve looked everywhere to no avail makes us highly suspicious that our ghostly resident is involved.  She’s usually not mean – just mischievous.

On the missing wedding ring front… Don, our clever plumber friend is coming later today armed with a camera with which he can search our garbage disposal without having to take it apart.  We’ve looked high and low in all the likely and unlikely places to no avail so this will be a last-ditch effort.  I am hopeful.  Nyel noticed that his ring finger was bare while drying his hands right after washing them at the kitchen sink.  We’ve not used the disposal since so… maybe.

Our Forever Pumpkin!

Meanwhile, the Great Pumpkin was apparently busy over the weekend scattering cheerful looking gourds hither and thither.  Actually, all the scattering was thither.  Like last year and the year before, no pumpkins were left in front of our house or the other pioneer Oysterville households.  We, like Linus, are not on the Great Pumpkin’s radar.  The good news, of course, is that we don’t need to deal with the rotting aftermath.

And besides, one of our friends brought us a year-round knitted pumpkin that is the perfect décor for our kitchen table!  Between that and Mrs. Crouch and Nyel’s awesome legbone, we are definitely ready for tomorrow!

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!

Scary Places

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014
Garage Workbench

Garage Workbench

There are some scary places in our house. That’s probably to be expected in a big old home that was built back in 1869. And besides, we share this place with Mrs. Crouch, our resident ghost. But even though we’ve had a few overnight guests who refuse to come back, we find Mrs. Crouch a benign (though sometimes playful) presence. She’s not connected with the scary places here,

No. The scary places are of our own making – one is in Nyel’s domain and the other is in mine. His and hers. The garage and my office. Scary and scarier.

In fairness, I have to say that the garage is only scary to me. Nyel seems to be fine with it. Part of its fearsome aspect to me is that I don’t know what all is there and, worse, I don’t know what most of the stuff is for. Plus, there’s lots of stuff up very high where I couldn’t reach it even if I needed to. And, even worse, lots of things are under or behind heavy, dangerous-looking other things. I definitely don’t feel at one with the garage. Maybe at five or six.



My office, unfortunately, is scary to both of us. Mostly there’s nothing heavy or dangerous-looking or up very high. In fact, it is my own lack of height (and therefore, reach) that makes for all the piles of ‘very important’ papers on the floor. Storage opportunities are minimal in my little office and it’s not easy to stow things I feel I need to keep. So there are piles. Making my way toward the business end of things (that would be to the desk and my computer) is difficult. In fact, scary.

If we are busy – Nyel with a garage project or me with a writing project – we don’t notice and we don’t worry about our surroundings. As long as Nyel can access the tools he needs and clear a bit of workspace, he’s good to go. Ditto me, as long as I can get to my computer and know where I can find any reference materials I might need. Sometimes that requires a bit of hunting and sifting, but it’s usually do-able.

Of course, between projects we are full of resolve. Nyel gets to cleaning his workbench and returns items to their proper places on the industrial strength shelving. I begin a righteous archaeological dig though the accumulation of papers, often finding long-lost treasures and occasionally (gulp!) an overdue bill or bit of correspondence that has gone unanswered.

Nyel's Workbench...sometimes

Nyel’s Workbench…sometimes

Unfortunately, years of experience tell us that a neat and tidy workplace doesn’t necessarily increase our effectiveness as far as productivity is concerned.  Nor do our respective work stations stay pristine for long. The result of that realization is that we find little pleasure in  clean-up endeavors. The it’s-just-going-to-get-messy-again attitude interferes with any momentary pleasure of seeing things neat and tidy.

If the very worst scenario plays out – that we spend precious time searching for something that remains ‘lost’ – there is always the possibility that Mrs. Crouch is responsible. Or so we say. As I mentioned, she is playful (and annoying) but never in a scary way. Anything scary in this house is definitely of our own making.

For once, it wasn’t Mrs. Crouch!

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Sydney in Performance 2010Yesterday, Dave Immel and I were scheduled to have a dress rehearsal for the Shoalwater Storytellers performance that we are to give a few days from now.  It was the “dress” part of dress rehearsal that was difficult for me.  Actually, make that the “skirt” part.  My tried-and-true, thirty-five-year-old, black “prairie style” skirt was nowhere to be found.

I went to the ‘costume department’ of my closet (four overstuffed hangers up against the far wall) and found all the other costume parts – blouse with leg-o-mutton sleeves, appropriate length slip, tights, sash, and, nearby, the shoes – but no skirt.  I searched through the rest of my closet, even searched on Nyel’s side, went upstairs to the overflow closets, looked in bureau drawers and, on the off-chance, went out to the car and looked through that bag of stuff in the trunk waiting to be taken to the Good Will.  No skirt showed itself.

Given our history around this house, it would seem logical that my suspicions would center on Mrs. Crouch, our resident ghost.  But, curiously, she never came to mind.  As I wracked my brain for the last time I had seen that item of clothing, I realized that I had offered it to one of the Shoalwater Shenanigans actors back in 2011.  I called Shenanigans director Sandy Nielson to see if her memory jibed with mine and it did.

It took several phone calls but, sure enough, the skirt was located by Kelly Jacobsen, safe in a bag in her closet, nestled beside a wool shawl that I had forgotten about entirely!  (Now, that shawl I would have blamed on Mrs. C. had I discovered it missing.  It’s just the sort of seldom-thought-of-item that she seems to love.)

Arrangements have been made so that the skirt will return home prior to the day it is needed.  Meanwhile, however, I improvised with something else for our dress rehearsal and I think I actually like that look better.  Wouldn’t you know!

No Other Explanation

Monday, May 14th, 2012

     When you share your home with a ghost, Things Happen.  We, of course, know that Mrs. Crouch is always nearby.  She manifests herself in various ways – usually playful, seldom mean.  She causes doors to open or shut, a single sock to go missing in the laundry, or an icy draft to occur where logic tells us it cannot be.  She’s been in the house since 1892 – a full decade longer than the Espys, and we feel as though she is part of the family.
     Mrs. Sarah Crouch was the wife of Oysterville’s Baptist preacher (who turned out not to be a preacher at all.)  They lived here in the ‘parsonage’ for about a year.  The household included their baby girl as well as the young brother and the mother of Reverend Josiah Crouch.  The pastor was outgoing and personable – “had an eye for the women,” Tommy Nelson said – and Sarah was shy.  She didn’t get out much.
     Unhappily for her, she did agree to go with her husband on a church call up the Willapa River.  In some unknown manner, their boat tipped over.  The preacher managed to swim ashore with the baby but Mrs. Crouch drowned.  There were marks on her neck… There was an investigation…  There was a warrant out for the pastor’s arrest.  He quickly skedaddled… with another man’s wife.
     My mother’s explanation for why Mrs. Crouch is still hanging around this house was that she was happy here in Oysterville.  I hope that’s so.  My explanation, though, is that she is still craving the attention that Josiah never gave her.  She’s a bit passive aggressive and certainly an “all about me” kind of gal.  Take yesterday, for instance…
       My “Mother’s Day Author! Author!” event was scheduled to begin at 4:00.  It was to open with a short DVD – a set-up for the Dear Medora reading to follow – and my friend Betsy had offered to be the techie person.  We had done a run-through a week or so ago and there were a few glitches that took time to iron out so yesterday Betsy arrived with all the necessary equipment at 2:30.  There was plenty of time to set up the projector, the screen, and the speakers, and to get everything plugged in and connected to her laptop.
     Insert disk.  Play!  But it was not to be.  One unexplained thing after another happened.  When people began to arrive Betsy was still turning everything off, physically disconnecting, rebooting.  When one problem was “fixed” something else went wrong.  Usually the difficulty was that everything stopped dead-in-the-water (so to speak) at second number two, according to the counter in the corner of the screen.  There was no Plan B.
     Nevertheless, at the appointed time, we began.  Betsy, intrepid to the end, pushed the play button and voilá!  The picture came up, the music came on (and stayed on past second-number-two) and it all worked perfectly.  Obviously, Mrs. Crouch had been on the rampage but had finally decided to let Dear Medora take center stage after all.  There was no other explanation.