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

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.

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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?

 

Wow! My Name Up In Lights!

Thursday, October 10th, 2019

Wow!

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.

 

 

Meds and Makeup? Really, Mrs. Crouch?

Friday, November 17th, 2017

The Get-Away Bag

Now that Nyel seems to be on the Emanuel Hospital Fast Track, I keep a get-away bag handy for myself.  Nyel-the-patient has every need supplied when he is admitted but for me, as the patient’s wife-and-faithful-companion… not so much.  I am eternally grateful that they supply me with a cot and linens and endless cups of decaf-on-demand.  I am happy to bring whatever else is required so that I can stay in Nyel’s room – a blessing of modern-day hospitalizations that I don’t remember back in the day.

Yesterday Nyel was scheduled for a pre-scheduled blood draw at Ocean Beach Hospital and, from the results, Dr. God’s assistant was going to determine what should happen next – return home or another stay at Columbia Memorial or a trek to Portland and admission to Legacy Emanuel.  “Better bring your suitcase,” said Nyel.  He wasn’t feeling at all well.  He had an inkling.  Quickly, I added my make-up and my own meds and away we went.

This morning I discovered that two (thankfully, not all-that-important) items had been left behind – calcium and my eyebrow pencil.  Fortunately, the calcium is a supplement rather than a prescription and can be replaced without having to call our pharmacy at home etc. etc.  The eyebrow pencil is more complicated – it’s the last of a discontinued color (charcoal gray) by Maybelline – not that there is a makeup store nearby, anyway.  Oh well…

Larry Murante who made Mrs. Crouch famous in song!

But a more serious concern is my inability to locate my debit card.  It’s not with me.  Probably it’s at home in a pocket.  I did my due diligence – calBled the bank etc. etc. but, since I can’t just hop home, I’ll have to wait for a while to solve the mystery.  In the meantime, I’m pretty sure that I’m in no way at fault for any of these ‘problems.’  I’d give odds that it’s Mrs. Crouch, our resident ghost.  It’s been some time since she’s weighed in and it’s just like her to want to reinforce her ancient bones, get decked out up to the eyebrows, and go on a shopping spree!

And, if you have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Crouch, check out this website – she’s definitely a force to reckon with at our house (and beyond, apparently!):      http://sydneyofoysterville.com/category/the-ghost-of-mrs-crouch/

A Ghost Talk and Tell-Tale Signs

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

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!