Archive for the ‘Mrs. Crouch’ Category

Keeping Tabs on Mrs. Crouch

Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

Window That Has Settled To The Right

I am frequently asked about what kinds of mischief Mrs. Crouch has been up to lately, and I know my vague responses aren’t very satisfactory.  Although I am often aware that she is  just out of sight, she seldom does anything substantive enough to satisfy those who are looking for a good ghost “experience”– certainly nothing interesting enough to warrant the beginnings of a story.

Nevertheless, I have vowed to begin paying better attention and to document anything that seems enough out of the  ordinary that it might be attributed to Mrs. C — even a few definite indicators that she is still “looking out for the household” in her own inimitable  fashion.  I’ve decided to  write down each incident as it occurs,  and perhaps in time a pattern will become clear.  And, perhaps, a story will emerge.

Door From Library Into Hallway With Sad Iron Doorstop

With that in mind, I want to tell about what happened a day or two ago — nothing much, of course, but still out of the ordinary.  First, let me remind you that this house is now 153 years old and has settled and become comfortable on the sand dunes that underlie Oysterville.  Some of the windows no longer open and the interior doors need to be latched closed or propped open — otherwise they almost-but-not-quite shut on their own.

The door between the east room (where the TV is) and the hallway is kept open with one  of my grandmother’s old sad irons, and the door from the east room into the library is propped open with one of the old ballast rocks brought up on the oyster schooners of long ago.  Both doors are usually left open for ease of access, but occasionally I close one or both.

Door Between Library and East Room With Ballast Rock Doorstop

The other day, it felt a bit drafty as I was watching TV, so I moved the sad iron and firmly closed the door into the hallway.  Not ten minutes later, I heard the door unlatch and watched, fascinated, as the door swung slowly (uphill!) back to its wide open position.  In a moment of total disorientation, I thought that Nyel would appear in his wheelchair, probably miffed that I had closed the door.  But…

I went into the hall and looked around but there was nothing to see.  Nor did it feel cold as is often reported after ghostly activity.  All was as usual… except the door.  It seemed clear to me that Mrs. C. wanted it left open and so I have complied, draft or no draft.  (Or was that actually a draft?)  It’s always hard to tell with ghosts…

Sometimes it happens… sometimes not.

Thursday, August 11th, 2022

Just because I didn’t see it, doesn’t meant it isn’t there.  I’ve missed it before and I probably will again.

I’m talking here about the announcement of the upcoming Sunday Vespers program in the Chinook Observer.  Upon my query, the editor kindly agreed to run a short article each week that I would submit telling the who, what, why, when, and where of the  weekly Music Vespers Programs at the Historic Oysterville Church.  Most weeks I see it but this week… either I missed it or other  late breaking news pre-empted it.

So… just in case:  this is what I wrote.  (If you already saw it, just move on…):

            A Promise from Fred Carter For Sunday’s Music Vespers

“I’ll be playing favorites for everyone at the Oysterville Church on Sunday and that’s a promise!” local singer-songwriter Fred Carter said of his upcoming Music Vespers program on August 14.  Carter is well-known locally as a musician who can play almost any tune once he’s heard it.  “I just need a little help on the lyrics now and then,” he laughs.

Sunday’s service will open at 3:00 p.m. with an “Oysterville Moment” by Sydney Stevens.  This week she will tell the shivery tale of an early minister’s wife, Mrs. Crouch, who drowned under mysterious circumstances back in 1892. Steve Kovach will present a short homily after which pianist Barbara Bate will accompany the congregational hymn-singing,  The public is invited to “come as you are” to this free Sunday Music Vespers Service.

Hope to see you all there!

 

 

Report from Oz – Day Three

Saturday, March 12th, 2022

Well, wouldn’t you know it?  The spiffy free shuttle service from my Residence to Nyel’s Home-Away-From-Home doesn’t operate on the weekends!  So annoying!  It’s not like I don’t have wheels available seven stories below me in the parking garage.  And it’s not like I couldn’t get a taxi or Uber.  Or even walk the 1.8 miles to Nyel’s hospital bedside…

But… after an extensive consultation with the patient by telephone, we decided to just let things percolate this weekend — me vegging at this end and he concentrating on getting better at his end.  His team of doctors are also off-duty today and tomorrow, so it’s a good time for Nyel to focus all systems — voluntary and involuntary — on improving his situation.

The only overnight news was that he actually gained a little weight yesterday.  Boo!  Hiss!!  Let’s hope that pining away for me nips any trending in that direction in the bud, immediately!!!  The goal is to get the fluid and attendant poundage off — not the other way around!

Otherwise — the only news from Oz is that the power here at my Residence went off for a few minutes this morning.  I wondered briefly if that meant the elevators were also inoperable and if the fancy-schmancy door locks that work by magic card-wands were also dead in the water.  Was I stuck in a dark room on the fifth floor indefinitely?  BUT… the TV was still working!  Go figure.

And about then… the lights were back.  (Carol wrote that the power was out in Oysterville for a brief time last night, too.) Do you think Mrs. Crouch was looking for us?  Did she find me this morning here in Oz and has she settled in with me for the duration?  Stay tuned.  Perhaps we’ll know more soon…

Sarah Angeline Tedder Crouch aka “Mrs. C.”

Tuesday, December 14th, 2021

Mysterious Mrs. Crouch

I am continually amazed at how many “fans” and “followers” our resident ghost, Mrs. Crouch, has!  She’s really become a sort of celebrity in her own right.  Who’da thunk it?  What is especially intriguing to me is that many of those who mention her — on Facebook or in response to one of my blogs — seem to be very great Mrs. Crouch fans even though, often, they don’t really know very much about her.

Well, in truth, neither do I, but what is known I’ve written about fairly extensively — not only in my blogs, but more fully in my two ghost story books.  Between them — Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula and Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula — I believe that all the historic/biographical information available about her is contained in two chapters, one per book.  We do know where and when she was born, where and when she died, where she is buried, that she had a lovely singing voice and that she had a toddler-aged daughter.  And only a bit more.  After all, she was a real person, she did live in this house in Oysterville, and she did drown in the Willapa River.

Josiah Crouch — San Quentin Mug Shot 1897

That is not to say that more facts won’t be forthcoming.  Cousin Ralph is always on the lookout and there’s certainly the chance that old news reports or official documents of one kind or another will become available online.  That’s exactly what happened in the case of Reverend Josiah.  Documentation released from San Quentin Prison in California and discovered long after my first ghost book was published, actually inspired the follow-up book.

But, most current “information” about shy Sarah Crouch is from personal observation of the unexplained phenomena that occur in this erstwhile parsonage.  Although we attribute these occurrences to Mrs. C. (and, just lately, perhaps also to Mr. C.) it is all speculation and guesswork on our part.

And, you will remember, I don’t really believe in ghosts…

Reconciliation? After more than a century??

Monday, December 13th, 2021

Christmas Tree, 2021

Yesterday afternoon, after a tiring bout of shopping and schlepping, we came home to find that naughty Mrs. C. had been undressing the Christmas tree.  Or maybe she was just foolin’ around.  It’s always hard to tell.

Quite a bit of tinsel and two precious (sentimentally, not monetarily) ornaments were on the floor — “Uncle Al’s” pear — for our partridge tree he said in 1964 — and the delicate glass toy trumpet that I believe had once belonged to Charlie’s father.  They didn’t look any more damaged than they have been for many years, but they had certainly left their moorings and were forlornly nestled together on the carpet.  They were surrounded by quite a bit of tinsel, as if Mrs. C. wanted to make a statement.  The rest of the tree was perfect — just as the Christmas elves, John and Steve, had left it the previous evening.

Mrs. Crouch’s handiwork?

After a word or two with (actually, more “at” than “with”) Mrs. Crouch, I set about putting things to rights and noticed that one of the doors of Papa’s “Barrister Bookcase” was wide open.  Never before has Mrs. C. shown an interest in the heavy tombs housed there — my grandfather’s “law books” that he used for reference during his many years as Justice of the Peace here.  I knew immediately that Reverend Crouch, himself, is back in the house — perhaps trying for a get-together with his bride of 1889.  After all, almost immediately after hightailing it out of Oysterville in 1893, he became an attorney in San Francisco!

Really, Reverend!

I had a few words for him, too, you betcha!  The idea of returning to Oysterville and trying to make amends after having married at least eleven more times…  to say nothing of the unanswered questions about the marks around Mrs. C.’s neck!  Was he checking out Papa’s law books to make sure the statutes of limitations for his many  transgressions were long past?

I do hope that the two of them sort it all out — but quietly and without causing Christmastime havoc here in the old parsonage.  Now, so long after their own Christmas spent here in 1892, perhaps they can let bygones be bygones.  ‘Tis the season…

Thanks, Vicki and Ralph! I appreciate it!

Friday, October 22nd, 2021

Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula

I don’t know about other authors, but I have to say that it’s not very often that I get feedback, and certainly not positive feedback, on a book or on anything else I’ve written.  If book sales are good, I just have to assume… and you know the old saying about that!  So when my interview with Carol Newman was over this afternoon and I suddenly realized I’d not yet written my blog for the day, I went to my computer and was totally blown away to find a FB message awaiting me from my friend Vicki Carter — “Great interview!” she said.  Imagine getting feedback from a 15-minute radio interview!!  Thank you so much, Vicki!

And, hard on the heels of that surprise came an email from Cuzzin Ralph in Virginia: ” I suppose I’m the farthest listener to Carol Newman’s “ARTS Live & Local” segment about Mrs. Crouch that just concluded.  I enjoyed every minute!  I’d never heard Larry Murante sing the Mrs. Crouch Ballad before and I was overwhelmed! You did a great job and thanks once again for the gracious words about my involvement.  I laughed like hell when you blamed Carol’s technical audio problem on Mrs. Crouch!!!”

Josiah Crouch, 1897

WOOT!  WOOT!  And here I am, grinning like the proverbial Cheshire Cat!  Ralph, you are by far my greatest (and only) research assistant and my severe-ist (and NOT only) critic, but also my best ever fan!  I do so appreciate your words of wisdom — especially the ones I agree with! lol

I do hope that a few other folks listened and that they, too, enjoyed the interview.  I definitely had a good time talking with Carol — as always!  And I truly hope that Mrs. C. has played her last trick for the season.

Won’t you join me tomorrow on KMUN?

Thursday, October 21st, 2021

Larry Murante who made Mrs. Crouch famous in song!

And Larry Murante, too!  We’ll be on Carol Newman’s “ARTS Live and Local” show — although we won’t be exactly “live.”  You’ll hear Larry singing “The Ballad of Mrs. Crouch” through the magic of recorded sound* and Carol and I will be coming to you via a telephone conversation — me in Oysterville and Carol in her studio at KMUN Coast Community Radio — tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. at 91.9 FM on your radio dial.
(*A note just in from Carol makes me think that Larry, too, will be singing “live” from his place in Seattle and not via recording at all!  Stay tuned, as they say…)

Sydney at home in the erstwhile Parsonage.

It all sounds like smoke and mirrors to me, but when you think of the subject matter — ghosts! — the magic of electromagnetic signals and transmitters and receivers seem one hundred percent  appropriate.  Carol told me she wants to talk about Mrs. Crouch and about my “new” book (out last June), Historic Haunts of the  Long Beach Peninsula!  “After all, Halloween is almost here,” she said.

Carol Newman, Host of “ARTS Live and Local”

I hope to talk about the Reverend Crouch as well as about his young wife, Sarah, who drowned so mysteriously in the Willapa River back in 1893.  Was it an unfortunate accident?  Or did her husband do her in?  He lived for almost a half-century longer than she did and led quite a newsworthy life, as it turned out.  Thanks to the ever-increasing digitization of public documents and historic newspapers, much information has come to light in recent years concerning Josiah Crouch — much of which I reveal in Historic Haunts.

Cover: Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula

Since Crouch never was brought to trial here in Pacific County, we can only speculate what conclusions an 1893 jury of his peers would have reached.  But, given the information about his shenanigans during the next four decades, what conclusions might be reached today?  What do my readers think, I wonder.  No one has said… yet.  But several folks have asked if he, also, haunts this house.  Or… is it only Mrs. Crouch?  Perhaps more clues will come up tomorrow on ARTS Live and Local!  Tune in and see what you think!

 

 

Not My Dish of Tea

Thursday, September 16th, 2021

Sydney:
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!

 

 

 

Should I or shouldn’t I, Mrs. Crouch?

Wednesday, August 25th, 2021

From Jim Harold’s “New Paranormal Plus Club” Site

First thing this morning (at 5:38 a.m.), I received an email from the associate producer at Jim Harold Media.  She says she has been sent my way “by listener request” and writes, “Jim would be delighted to have the opportunity to interview you concerning your two Ghost Stories books.”

Oh my.  There’s nothing that makes me feel quite so old and inept as reading a few paragraphs that involve words like “podcasts” and “downloads” (50 million of them!) and “best-selling authors and TV personalities” that I’ve never heard of.  Plus, of course, there’s my knee-jerk reaction to words like “paranormal” and “investigators.”

As I’ve said from the get-go, I’m interested in the history of our area — especially the wonderful stories of our forebears.  I’m all about putting “the story back in history” and, if it happens to be a ghost story, that’s fine with me.  But… do I believe in ghosts?  My jury is out.  And never mind that Mrs. Crouch and I have a long-term relationship of experiences and exasperations.  I’ve never met her or heard her speak so, although I give her a lot of credit for the goings-on around this house, I am not 100% sure that she’s the cause.

Oysterville Church, 1902

What I am sure of is that Sarah Tedder Crouch was the wife of the first minister to serve at the Oysterville Baptist Church from 1892 to 1893.  I am sure that she drowned in the Willapa River under circumstances questionable enough that a warrant was out (but never served) for the arrest of her husband, Reverend Josiah Crouch.  And I’m sure of a lot more, besides.  That’s the history part and it can be documented.  The rest… I’m not so sure.

So, I can’t help but wonder what Mrs. C. would say about my response to the Jim Harold Media’s associate producer.  Would an interview just encourage the looky-loos and the teams of investigators with their “scientific” equipment?  Or would it encourage book sales and. ultimately, a greater interest in the history of this area?  Should I or shouldn’t I say “yes,” Mrs. Crouch?

Mrs. Crouch, are you at it again?

Saturday, May 22nd, 2021

Hot Water Faucet Yeilds Only Cold Water

Tricky arrived on Tuesday afternoon and left Thursday morning.  He was our first house guest in over a year — actually since (we think) the Milt Williams/Barbara Bate House Concert on February 9, 2020.  No one has stayed upstairs since then, so when Tricky said on Wednesday morning that there didn’t seem to be any hot water, we were a bit flummoxed.

We do have a dedicated upstairs water heater.  And there have been times (mostly when we have an attack of the cheaps) that we have flipped its circuit breaker so it isn’t using any electricity and, of course, isn’t creating any hot water.  But it’s been years since we’ve done that.

And besides… the circuit breakers for the upstairs are located in an impossible-to-reach location requiring a ladder or a tall step stool.  Since Nyel can no longer get upstairs and I go up unwillingly and have not gone on ladder or step-stool for at least five years…  And since Tricky is pretty sure there was hot water the last time he was here and is also pretty sure he didn’t flip that breaker switch…

Circuit Breaker Box

Last night we asked our much younger and more agile friend Charlie (who was here for “Friday Night” )if he’d check the breaker switch.  Up those killer stairs he went (like a young gazelle!) and… “Yep!”  It had been tripped.  He switched it back to the ON position and this morning I went up and turned on the hot water  Nada!  We don’t know if the circuit breaker switched off again or if the water heater, itself, is defunct…  Damn!

We have concluded that we might have a problem.  But… it’s never simple, is it?  We have four house guests coming June 1st and another 9 coming on June 7th.  Hot water is a must.  (Not everyone says, “No problem.  A quick cold shower is just fine!”)  So we have a call into the plumber for starters.

Never mind that we will be in Seattle at the UW Medical Clinic on Monday to check out Nyel’s heart.  And never mind that he may need to be admitted to the hospital for a few days (or more) so we don’t know exactly when we’ll be coming home.  We are counting on Carol and Tucker coming to the rescue but we already know that they’ll be gone on Monday, as well.

In some ways, it might have been easier before electricity came to Oysterville in 1936…  Or maybe even before Mrs. C came in 1902.