Archive for the ‘Mrs. Crouch’ Category

Hello? Hello? Mrs. Crouch is it you?

Saturday, January 14th, 2023

Cell Phone With Its Red Case

Well, it’s a steep learning curve for a young woman of the 1890s, but I do believe that Mrs. Crouch tried her best to master the mysteries of my cell phone.  There really is no other explanation.

It all began yesterday afternoon when I drove through the raindrops to pick up my neighbor Carol for our coffee date at Colleen’s Coffee Shop in Ocean Park.  I was a few minutes early so I took my cell phone from my jacket pocket and called her, telling her I was out front.  She quickly joined me and then, as Lewis and Clark said in their journals:”We proceeded on.”

There were about a gazillion cars at Colleen’s so we parked at the western end of the allotted space, right next to a pickup with a very diligent watch dog — barking, barking, barking.  We gave him due praise and then went on in to meet Colleen’s newest cashier and to enjoy our coffee and conversation.  It was lovely. as always.

Inside Colleen’s — The Perfect Gathering Place for Refreshment and Conversation

Back to Carol’s an hour and a half later and a short visit with Tucker to see his new Oysterville Cemetery Map.  (Bravo!)  Then home to do a little more getting ready for tomorrow’s house concert.  Then, for some reason (was I going to call Charlie for something?) I reached in my back pocket for my cell phone.  Not there.

For the next few minutes I looked in my purse, in my jacket pockets, in my car and… then again.  And maybe again.  No cell phone.  I drove over to Carol and Tucker’s: “Have you seen my….?”  The answer was no.  Carol called my number and had me go listen in the car… just in case. No phone ringing.

“Come on with me,” she said.  “We’re driving to Colleen’s” — which, by then we knew was closed.  When we arrived, I banged on the door; Carol searched the parking lot — to no avail.  No, Colleen hadn’t seen it.  She and I looked in the area that Carol and I had been sitting and we promised to call one another if it turned up.

On our way back to Carol’s place (and my car) we stopped at my house to try calling there.  But before Carol could even punch in the number she said, “Is that your phone?  On the chair?”

And there it was!  Right on one of the chairs I had been setting up for the House Concert tomorrow!  Carol said that my jaw actually dropped!  Talk about gobsmacked!  And just what was Mrs. C. doing anyway?  Trying to reserve a seat?

I don’t know which emotion took precedence — relief or incredulity!   I phoned Colleen to call off the search and then went with Carol to pick up my car — clutching my cell phone and wondering how in the world Mrs. C. managed to get that close to modern-day contact.  But then, truth to tell, I wonder that about all of us nearly every day!

Contact attempted? Perhaps…

Wednesday, January 4th, 2023

Josiah Crouch, San Quentin Mug Shot, 1897

You can be sure that the first thing I asked Cuzzin Ralph when he came down to breakfast this morning was whether or not the Crouches had made themselves known.

“Well…” was his hesitant response, “maybe.”

It seems that when Ralph (who is a big guy) was in the upstairs bathroom (which is a small space), the bottle  of his contact lens solution disappeared from the shelf beside the sink.  A careful search revealed it floating in the toilet (“clean-water-not-to-worry” Ralph assured me).

He reported that he scooped up the bottle, washed it off thoroughly, and proceeded with his day.  “But,” he said — and more than once — “I can’t see how that bottle got way over into the toilet.”

“Unless…” we both said together.

“And it was contact lens solution,” I said.  “Do you suppose they thought it was some sort of solution that would aid in contacting you?”

We ate our breakfast and pondered that for a while.  No conclusions were reached.  But there’s always next time.


A day late and… you know the rest.

Monday, January 2nd, 2023

Cheryl and Virg, 2016

I promised myself that when the New Year began (as in yesterday), I would write one short story a day toward the eventuality of a new book I have in mind.  Well, here we are at Day Two of 2023 and Story Number One is still safely locked in my head.

I’m not beating myself up over it — not even vowing to get it plus Story Number Two done today.  That’s because my promise-to-self was not a New Year’s Resolution — just a way of setting a goal.  In fact, my actual resolutions — to develop more compassion and empathy — are being given a test with this very story-a-day promise.  “Cut yourself some slack, Sydney,” I say to myself.  “You had other fish to fry yesterday.”

Cuzzin Ralph, 2019

That’s the thought I woke up to this morning, anyway, and I do think compassion and empathy can be directed toward oneself as well as toward others.  Don’t you?   Besides… my Jeffords cousins are arriving this afternoon for a few days of visiting.  That’s my Cuzzin Ralph (who has done all the Rev. and Mrs. Crouch research for me), plus his sister Cheryl and her husband Virg who used to live here at the beach.  I’m so excited!  I haven’t seen Ralph since the sheltering began and Cheryl and Virg only oh- so- briefly at Nyel’s Bon Voyage Party.

So that’s why I had other things to do yesterday — making ready for the relatives!  But, honestly, they are the easiest guests EVER!  They bring food for the main meals AND do the cooking and, even in the days when Nyel was fit and well, they’d come and help with various projects around this old house.  (I have a little list of things for them if they will be so kind… mostly involving Ralph, who is tall, getting the top ornaments off the Christmas tree.)

Nope.  Not a bit hard to cut myself some slack this time!



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!