Archive for the ‘Mrs. Crouch’ Category

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.

Ta dah! The cover is perfect… book to follow!

Monday, May 17th, 2021

Cover: Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula

A proof of the cover for my up-coming ghost book has arrived and it couldn’t be more perfect!  I love it!  The parsonage (Mrs. Crouch’s place) is in the foreground with the Oysterville Church (where you-know-who used to preach) peeping from behind.  It says it all — especially if you already know the basic outlines of Mrs. Crouch’s story!

The new book, Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula, is not exactly a sequel to Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula (2024).  But sort of.  First of all, The History Press doesn’t do sequels — they told me so, themselves.  Nevertheless, this is the second book they’ve published by me about the ghosts of our area and it does contain a follow-up story (just one) about the only ghost I’m sure actually lived here. In this very house (where Nyel and I now live) from November 1, 1892 – July 22, 1893 — the final nine months of her short,   20-year-old life.

In the new story, “Closure for Mrs. Crouch,” readers will learn more about her preacher husband and what happened to him after he left Oysterville some months following his young wife’s death.  You will remember that he left “under a cloud” — a warrant was out for his arrest — and, until recently, there was little information about what happened next.  But, thanks to Cuzzin Ralph and his penchant for following the constant updates in digitized information, I was able to tell a great deal more of Josiah Columbus Crouch’s horrifying story.

My own experiences with Mrs. Crouch began with this ancient typewriter.

If you haven’t read the first story, “Mrs. Crouch, The Preacher’s Wife” in the 2014 book, I suggest that now is the time.  The “sequel” will be available on June 21st — just a few weeks hence.  Stay tuned for where it will be available and for possible Fourth of July book-signings — depending upon Governor Inslee’s soon-to-be released decisions about “re-opening” the State.

My Current Parallel Universe

Thursday, April 8th, 2021

Mind-boggling Possibilities

When I went out to the coop with the girls’ breakfast this morning, I found myself talking to them about Mrs. Crouch, our resident ghost.  I was asking them if they’ve ever had occasion to speak with her.  They clucked and chirped a bit, but I think they were mostly telling me to get on with their morning treats.  I’m not sure they are into paranormal stuff.

Nor am I.  But, I’ve been in the  midst of going over the copyreader’s edits and stewing about the cover image for my upcoming book, Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula, so I’m traveling along some ghostly parallel plane just now.  Come to think of it, the chickens probably are, too.  Just not the same one as mine.

Which makes me wonder just how many parallel universes there might be.  According to an article titled “Parallel Universes: Theories & Evidence” written by Elizabeth Howell in 2018, the concept of a parallel universe “is a facet of the astronomical theory of the multiverse.” (And never mind that the multiverse term immediately puts my puny thought processes in a musical mode.)  Ms. Howell goes on to say, “There actually is quite a bit of evidence out there for a multiverse.”

She briefly expains five different multiverse theories — all of which are totally beyond me and none of which mentions Mrs. Crouch or any of the other ghosts in Historic Haunts…   On the other hand, Ms. Howell does point out that physicist Stephen Hawking questioned the multiverse theory shortly before his death. “We are not down to a single, unique universe, but our findings imply a significant reduction of the multiverse to a much smaller range of possible universes.”

I wish I’d had a chance to talk with Dr. Hawking about where Mrs. Crouch might be in the great scheme of things.  Unfortunately, the closest I ever got to meeting him was when he visited this house via his appearances on “The Big Bang Theory.”  Perhaps he noticed Mrs. C. in passing.  But whether he did or not, it all begs the question: Whatever will I tell the chickens now?

 

Oysterville’s “C Team” On The Rampage!

Sunday, November 29th, 2020

Cinderella on Automatic Pilot

As unlikely (or bizarre) as it might seem, Mrs. Crouch (our resident ghost) and Cinderella (our roomba robot vacuum cleaner) have paired up!  And not to any good purpose either!

First it was Cinderella cleaning the bathroom without any instructions. The day before Thanksgiving, we had received notice that her Mother Ship was having technical difficulties.  They asked for our patience.  On Thursday, Cinderella began an “independent” cleaning frenzy — no directions from us.  Included in the rooms receiving her attention was the bathroom.

On Friday we found that our 350-pound clawfoot bathtub had fallen off her right rear leg.   Of course, we blamed Cinderella who “navigates” by gently bumping into obstacles in her path.  It’s that particular let that is most difficult to reach (of course) and the one our plumbing contractor had trouble with twenty years ago when the bathroom was “redone.”  Meanwhile (of course) he has retired and, besides, it was the day after Thanksgiving.  Not a plumber in sight.

The Second Broken Leg

That afternoon I noticed that the tub’s left rear leg had suddenly come unmoored!  And, not only that — it was a considerable distance from where it had previously been attached.  Not Cinderella this time…  she’s been grounded for a while.  It was definitely someone else.  Not me.  Not Nyel.  That leaves only Mrs. Crouch.

Last night, I was thinking all of this over — hoping against hope that the plumbing attached to the other end of the tub doesn’t give way before we can get help.  I went into the bar, was just preparing to fix myself a calming Bloody Mary, when the jigger (which is kept on a window sill behind and above the bar) leaped (truly LEAPED) into the air and crashed (truly CRASHED) into the bottles lined up below said sill.

I screamed.  Nyel, in the kitchen, tried to rush to my rescue and dropped a bowl of — well you don’t need to know, but it involved a raw egg and the whole mess landed all over the kitchen and dining room floors.

The Fallen Tub

In the thirty-some years we have “known” Mrs. C, this is the first really mean episode she’s  been involved in.  I don’t know what it was that annoyed her.  We think it must have been something Cinderella did or said.  We can only hope that the tub situation can be remedied before there is new trouble — like the plumbing giving way.  (I did try to turn off the shutoff valves but one half a twist resulted in water leakage so I returned the handle to its original position.)  YIKES!

 

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?

 

 

I think Mrs. C. is at it again…

Saturday, February 1st, 2020

There is nothing quite so frustrating, annoying, or maddening as having computer problems when you are working against a deadline.  Granted, it’s sort of a self-imposed deadline, as in I told the publisher’s acquisitions editor that I’d fill out the Publication Proposal and send it right off to her.

That was yesterday.  It’s a 13-page proposal and runs the gamut from personal questions (education, employment history, published works, affiliations with community organizations etc. etc.) to detailed descriptions of the proposed book.  Not only the overall concept, proposed chapter titles, and sample photographs, but the word count for the entire manuscript, the number of photos, the target audience, possible competing books, etc. etc. some more.

And that’s only the first seven pages.  The next part is titled “Sales and Marketing” and begins with the explanatory statement, We require authors to be active partners in helping us promote and sell their books locally…  There follow four categories concerning possible sales venues to fill out in detail:  independent bookstores, gift shops and pharmacies, hardware stores, community organizations (historical societies, chambers of commerce, local history museums,etc),and  other unique sales opportunities.  The business name, contact person, address, phone number and local insight/personal connection must be included for each listing in those four categories.  Not impossible to do, but time consuming to look up specific contact information etc.  (Besides which, I have agreed to buy 500 books to sell myself.  I am struggling to be totally transparent concerning this category which is for their sales/marketing people.)

Next came the media information — local newspapers, radio stations, websites and blogs, magazines, and newsletters (church, synagogue, community organization) etc. etc.  Again, not onerous.  Just time-consuming.

It took me six hours to complete the form.  I printed it out to have my Number One Copy Reader (that would be Nyel) take a look.  Then I saved the document, and took a break for lunch.  When I returned to my task… the document was gone.  G-O-N-E.  As in nowhere to be found.  Honestly!  As in don’t even bother to make suggestions — been there, done that.

Tomorrow is another day.  Fortunately I have a printed copy that I can work from.  Of course, the scary part is… what if it happens again?  Before I can return it to History Press.   Aaauurrgh!!!

Come on, Mrs. Crouch! Give me a break!