Archive for the ‘Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula’ Category

Me! Warts and All! – for whatever it’s worth!

Saturday, October 9th, 2021

The Parsonage c. 1900 — where Mrs. Crouch lived

Yesterday a link arrived to the podcast I did a few weeks ago with Jim Harold on his program “Ghost Insights.”  I listened to it with fear and trepidation — hearing myself being interviewed is a true horror to me.  Second only to seeing myself on TV.  And yet I keep saying “yes” when asked.  Go figure.

It wasn’t as bad as I had thought… perhaps they edited out the worst parts.  Still, there was one really bad error (by me) on it.  I’ll let listeners see if they can find it.  Hint:  it has to do with a question Mr, Harold asked me toward the end of the interview.

As is always the case with these things, at least for me, there are other things I wish I had said or pointed out about the ghosts of the Peninsula — especially those who have manifested themselves to people I know well.  In at least one case, I’ve known the woman who shared her story for more than seventy years.  She was a great informant and I have great faith in the accuracy of her “report.”

Where Mrs. C. hangs out?

And I wish I had said a bit more about the not-so-righteous Reverend Crouch.  I guess I expected Mr. Harold to ask me some leading questions about him, but that didn’t happen.  Of course, from my viewpoint, the purpose of the podcast is to encourage book sales.  I wonder if it will.

Here is what the “Ghost Insights” team sent to me with the suggestion that I put the link on social media:

Listen to my recent interview on Ghost Insight with @THEJimHarold  

If you listen, let me know what you think  (Be kind, please.)  I think it’s about 30 minutes long…

October: Not Exactly As Planned

Friday, October 8th, 2021

Scavenger Hunt

I wonder when we’ll be able to plan ahead with surety — as in arranging to attend something or help sponsor something or…  Not for a while longer, would be my guess.

A few months back, when events for October were being scheduled, it looked like it might be a busy month for me.  Two offers to do book-signings at the Cranberrian Fair — one at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum and one at the Cranberry Museum.  Both for this weekend and, of course, both cancelled when the Fair was cancelled.

I was also scheduled to do a book talk and signing at the Ocean Park Timberland Library on October 16th.  It was to be in connection with a proposed annual month-long celebration of literacy called Peninsula Loves to Read.  Sponsored by both the Ilwaco and Ocean Park Libraries, they were planning to hold special events throughout October around the theme: “The Peninsula Loves to Read MYSTERIES!”  I was SO looking forward to talking about both of my ghost books, but…  CANCELLED!  Damn!

Now Available in Hardcover

Fingers crossed for next year on all counts!  And, of course, my disappointments are small potatoes in comparison to some of the really big and important celebrations and ceremonies that have been called off in the interest of health and safety.

Meanwhile, under the heading of “Making Lemonade Out Of Lemons,”  I spent the morning distributing “Free Scavenger Hunts” to the vendors who sell my books.  It’s the second or third rendition by History Press — the first tries having had some serious flaws from my point of view.  The new ones definitely meet with my approval, though I’m not sure how they will be received by readers.

Cover: Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula

The 8×11 sheets of paper display seven buildings, each located somewhere on the Peninsula with a bit of information about the ghost connections of each.  The idea (according to History Press, anyway) is that readers of Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula and Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula can find additional clues as to the where and the who of particular ghosts.  I’m not sure why they are billed as “Scavenger Hunts” — I guess what you find at each location is a photo op if not an actual ghost!

No purchase is necessary to pick one up, so if you already have the books or think you can locate the specific sites and already “know” who haunts them, go for it!  You will find the Scavenger Hunts at BOLD, the Cranberry Museum, Time Enough Books, Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum, and Oysterville Sea Farms.   And let me know what you think — a fun activity?  Or not?


Not My Dish of Tea

Thursday, September 16th, 2021

Muzzy-Minded and Fuzzy-Headed at 7:00 a.m.

At seven this morning I was talking on the telephone to Jim Harold, host of  the “Ghost Insight” podcast (among many others).  He was interviewing me about Mrs. Crouch — a very one-sided conversation and weird in the extreme.  In Mr. Harold’s defense, his preference was for a zoom meeting which, I think, would have been easier all the way around.  However, with our intermittent internet connection, it was determined we should to do a telephone “interview” instead.

Cover: Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula

As it turned out, it was mostly me talking with few questions or guidance from Mr. Harold.  I very much wanted to make the point that I’m interested in the history surrounding the ghosts I write about — who the people were, what buildings were involved and what they were used for historically,  what events were happening at the time the “ghost” was living — events that might provide logical explanations.  I don’t think I expressed any of those thoughts at all.

Mostly I rambled.  Mr. Harold wasn’t much help.  Maybe he had zoned out as I droned on.  Before I knew it, he had cut me off with  “thanks for being here” and a promise to send me a link to the podcast.  I wish there were “do-overs.”  A zoom interview might have been much better.  Talking into a telephone mouthpiece — definitely not my dish of tea!




I keep waiting for Mrs. Crouch to join me…

Friday, July 16th, 2021

Cover: Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula

Every time I give a book talk, I halfway expect to “hear” from Mrs. Crouch.  Not that she appears on demand, mind you.  In fact, as far as I know, she has never appeared at all.  But she does, occasionally, make herself known.  Years ago — in the mid-seventies — when my mom was talking to  friends  Patty and Noel Thomas about her, Mrs. C. knocked some heirloom incense burners off the bookcase here at our house.  I wasn’t among the witnesses, but there were several.  In fact it was before I had moved here and before I had met P&N, but I’ve heard the story many times.

So, though I’m always hopeful she’ll give me a sign that she’s attending one of my book talks, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be in any way what we might expect. She is anything but predictable.  But I do believe she likes the attention she is getting from the stories I’ve written about her.  On the other hand, I’ve never known her to manifest herself in any place other than right here at the erstwhile parsonage.  One of the few things we know for sure about her is that she was shy.  Tommy Nelson who lived down the street when the Crouches were here said years later: She could sing like a mockingbird.  But when a stranger was around, she had nothing to say.  

Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula

Still, it would be fun if she or one of the other “spirited” characters in my ghost books would make themselves manifest in some way at one of my book talks.  The last one I’m giving — probably until the month of October — will be tomorrow at the Senior Center from 1:00 until 3:00.  After the question and answer period, I’ll be selling books — both the new one,  Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula  and the first one, Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula.  Bring your check books or cash — I can’t take credit cards.

Oh… and in case I haven’t mentioned it before — this new book does include some honest-to-goodness photographs of Mrs. Crouch’s husband, the unrighteous preacher!  Mug shots from his stay in the California State Prison at San Quentin! (But you’ll be surprised at the circumstances of his arrest — it wasn’t for the reason you might expect!)  In my opinion, seeing him “up close and personal” is worth the price of the book!



See you Saturday-the-17th in Klipsan Beach!

Monday, July 12th, 2021

Yesterday at BOLD

I do believe I was born to party and that’s what my book signing at BOLD felt like yesterday!  So many friends came to hear me talk and to buy books!  Friends from long ago.  Friends from afar.  Friends from the neighborhood.  Friends from FaceBook. Even “friends” who only know me through my books!  So so so fun!

And when I got home I saw a few laments on FaceBook — people who couldn’t get there yesterday or who hadn’t made it to Adelaide’s the week before.  If you were among those who missed the “party” I just want you to know you’ll soon have another opportunity.  I’ll be talking and signing at the Senior Center in Klipsan Beach from 1:00 to 3:00 on Saturday, July 17th.  And, no, you don’t need to be a “senior” to come!  It’s open to all and they have plenty of chairs and I’m told I’ll be provided with a mic… just in case my old “teacher’s voice” isn’t up to the challenge.


So mark your calendar and come on over!  It will probably be the last signing I do until the ghostly month of October.  Meanwhile, of course, the book will remain on sale at these local outlets:  the gift shops at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and at the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse; Time Enough Books, Ilwaco; Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum, Ilwaco; The Cranberry Museum, Long Beach; BOLD, Long Beach; and Adelaide’s in Ocean Park.

If you live elsewhere and can’t get to the beach, I urge you to check with your local bookstores. (If you tell them it’s a hot item and that they can order from History Press, they may begin stocking it themselves. They probably should also stock my first ghost book, too — Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula.  Several stories in the first are continued in the second and it helps to know the backstory!) Amazon also carries them and has plenty in stock I am told, although I’ve seen several of their websites that say they are “temporarily out” of Historic Haunts — which apparently is not true.  Go figure!

On the Patio at Bold tomorrow 2:00-4:00!

Saturday, July 10th, 2021

Cover: Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula

If you’ve not yet been into BOLD Art Framing and Espresso at 711 Pacific Ave N in Long Beach, by all means drop by tomorrow at 2 p.m. when I’ll be chatting a bit about my new book, Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula.  After all, it’s not every Art Gallery that hosts a book-talk and book-signing!  But then, it’s not every gallery that calls itself BOLD and ventures into the literary arts as well as the visual arts.  I couldn’t be more pleased to be a little part of it!

For BOLD owners  Greg Holmes and Daneka Ewert, this book-signing venture is a first!  I hope that it is a fun and successful experience for them and that it won’t be the last of such events. And I’m counting on you readers who are old hands at attending book-talks and author-signings to show up to clap and cheer and (of course) to buy a book or two!

From the very first day that they opened their doors, Daneka and Greg have included a display of books by local authors and, though I cannot speak for others, they have done very well by me.  Indeed, I’ve wished more than once that my friend Bob Meadows was still living so I could tell him all about it.  “Old Bob” was an Oysterville handyman who could fix or jerry-rig just about anything — probably would have done well in the arts, himself.  He had a fine sense of humor and one of the things that amused him greatly was seeing “all them arty fellas” setting up their easels around the Oysterville Church on summer afternoons.

I don’t know if Old Bob had ever been in an Art Gallery, but how I would love to have taken him into BOLD so he could see the marvelous creations of some of them arty folks — me included!  I don’t know how he felt about ghosts but he was interested in the history of this area and I think he enjoyed reading.  Maybe my ghost stories would have been just right for him.  And maybe they’ll be just right for you.  Come on over tomorrow afternoon and find out!

No matter how you slice it…

Thursday, July 8th, 2021

Label on the Carton of Books

The labels on the packages said, “Historic Haunts of the Long Island Beach Peninsula.”  SAY WHAT??  The Long Island Beach Peninsula???  I don’t think so.

The books were a rush order from Arcadia Publishing. We (meaning most every bookseller of these books on the Peninsula) were O-U-T of the books.  I had plenty on order but… there was a three day weekend AND a holiday Monday.  No books would be here until next week.

AAAAUUUUGGHH!  With an upcoming book talk and book-signing at BOLD in Long Beach (Sunday, July 11th, 2:00-4:00), I was distraught.  I emailed my BSG (Book Supplier Guru) Elysia at History Press with yet another order and she made magic happen.  I’m not sure what she did but, somehow, she got the books out of that North Carolina warehouse and onto my front porch in nothing flat!  Order placed July 6th and on my porch July 8th!  Wow!

Cover: Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula

“Are you sure they are your books?” Nyel asked.  OMG!  Quick as a wink, I opened the boxes and, yes, they were my ghost story books!  I did have a moment of panic remembering some of my Uncle Willard’s stories about editors and reporters on the East Coast who insisted that our Peninsula was a part of the Olympic Peninsula (and that we still live side-by-side with “Red” Indians.)  Long anything must, of course, be Long Island, I guess, as in Long Island Beach.

But, here they are — 50 of the first book of ghost stories: Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula and 100 of Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula!  Yay!  Tomorrow I’ll double-check with the booksellers in the area and fill in the blank spots as needed!  PLUS, I will be able to supply plenty of books for the book-signing at Bold on Sunday!  So… come on over!  Let’s talk g-h-o-s-t-s!  See you there at two o’clock!

Not the Bay, Ira… the River.

Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

The Parsonage c. 1900 — where Mrs. Crouch lived

As far as I know (though these days, I am sometimes a bit forgetful), I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Ira Wesley Kitmacher.  He lives in nearby Ocean Park, according to his biographical material in the October 22nd “Our Coast Weekend” which is the weekly insert in the Chinook Observer and in The Daily Astorian.

It was only after Nyel questioned me about Mr. Kitmacher’s  “Haunted History Series Part II” — as in, “Did this guy ever talk to you?” — that I read his article and was quite interested in some of the familiar ghost information printed therein.  (And how did I happen to miss Part I, anyway?) The answer to Nyel’s question is “no” but I’m going to assume from some of what he has written that he has read either my book,  Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula, or some of the other articles or blogs I’ve written — especially about Mrs. Crouch, the ghost that roams our house.  As far as I know, no one else has written about her and yet he talks of her in very familiar terms.

Several other mentions hopped out at me that were also covered in my 2014 ghost book.  Both were “first time” ghost stories, at least in written form.  One was as a result of extensive interviews I did with the niece of Aunt Frances Sargant (but perhaps Ira also interviewed her?) and the other was about the boys who drowned at Sprague’s Hole — which was not in Oysterville, Mr. Kitmacher.  It was in Ocean Park.  And only one (not all three) of the boys is hanging around in ghostly form.  Both “The Ghost of Aunt Frances” and “The Tragedy at Sprague’s Hole” were based on primary research and interviews done by me.  As far as I know, like the Mrs. Crouch stories, neither Aunt Frances nor Phillip Brooks had ever been written about previously.

Sargant House, 1918 — where “Aunt Frances” grew up

I should point out here, AGAIN, that while I do not really believe in ghosts, I do find stories of them a wonderful vehicle for documenting the history of this area.  It’s the history of the buildings, the people who lived in them, their occupations, and the factual information about their lives that I am interested in.  When there is a ghost story associated with any of that history — so much the better.  I go to great lengths to research and document the historical information surrounding the ghost stories I write about.

So… it’s one thing to assume that a ghost story (or three or ten) are “out there” in the community and that there is no necessity of giving credit where credit is due.  But it is quite another to change historic facts.  Sara Crouch was a real person.  My grandfather and his brothers and sisters all knew her.  No doubt everyone who lived in Oysterville in 1902/1903 knew her.  She was drowned in Willapa River (not in the Bay) and she was buried at Fern Hill Cemetery in Menlo which was the closest burying ground to the site where her body was recovered.  She was not buried in Oysterville.  Sara’s demise was well documented in local contemporary newspapers and court documents.

Frances Sargant was also a real person, the aunt of my childhood friend, Sally Sherwood.  Sally shared her memories with me in many communications by telephone and email in the early 2000s and my impression is that she had not talked of her experiences before.  Ditto my friend Nanci Main.  She shared the story of Phillip Brooks who spent his young boyhood the house where she now lives.  Phillip’s mother, Mrs. Brooks, was a teacher in Oysterville much beloved by our family; Phillip’s brother was a classmate’s of my uncles Willard and Edwin.  The article about the boys who drowned in Sprague’s Hole was published in the April 6, 1912 Ilwaco Tribune — a factual account concerning a real tragedy.

The Brooks House, c 2000 — where Phillip Brooks lived in the early 1900s.

I’d really like to talk to Mr. Kitmacher to learn if my irritation with him is well-founded or if I am being patently unfair.  I looked for him on FaceBook, and in the local phonebook to no avail.  If you know him, please ask him to give me a call.  I’m also curious about his “soon to be published book, A Road-trip Through the Most Haunted Place in America: the Graveyard of the Pacific.  (And how do you take a road trip through the “Graveyard of the Pacific” anyway? As most of us know, the reference is to the area where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean — the area, according to maritime historian James A. Gibbs, in which “the number of vessels which have sustained damage or been lost… would likely exceed two thousand, with more than fifteen hundred lives claimed.) I’d like to know if his upcoming book includes the stories mentioned in the Coast Weekend account.  And if he credits his sources.  Or am I being way too picky?



Rich With Mementos

Saturday, October 12th, 2019

“Ghost Lecture” – Photo by Stephanie Frieze

Despite Mrs. Crouch’s efforts to low-key my ghost talk today, some 50 interested people showed up at the Senior Activity Center to hear me speak about Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula and the possibility of a follow-up book. And, more importantly from my point of view, a number of folks joined in the discussion afterwards, sharing the stories of their own ghost experiences.  I’m not sure yet if what we discussed will ever materialize in story form, but my notebook is bursting and my head is abuzz.

Mak Grgic

Another ghost-related meeting – an interview this time — and by the time I arrived back in Oysterville,  Water Music musician Mak Grgic’s arrival at our house was imminent.  He was across the street at the church getting familiar with the space and the acoustics before coming over to our house — “the green room” — for some snacks and a little r&r before his concert.  He ate only a little, played his guitar quite a bit, and wandered through the rooms looking at photographs and memorabelia.

Our Stairwell

“You’ve been in this house a long time?” he asked.  So I told him of the three generations.  “My family has a 150-year-old villa in the Alps,” he said, “but it is not nearly so rich in mementos.” He paused here and there, asking questions and was especially interested in the age of the books.  “I have books that belonged to my great-great grandfather,” he said.  “I love the feel of the pages…”

What a lovely day!  From ghost aficionados to a world-class guitarist with an eye for mementos — sometimes I think that only on the Peninsula could we be immersed in such rich experiences all within a few hours and a few miles!  Our blessings are countless!

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?