Posts Tagged ‘The Ghost of Mrs. Crouch’

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!




The Tip of The Iceberg

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

I don’t know about you, but when I receive just a little bit of information about something — especially if it’s not in the Good News Department — I wonder.  Sometimes I even stew about it.  Today was one of those days because of one of those things.

Actually, it began yesterday when my friend Marion wrote from Olympia that she had ordered Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula from Amazon and: there was some kind of glitch so they refunded my money. I decided to go through Time Enough Books in Ilwaco as they could ship it out right away. 

My first thought:  Bless you, Marion.  My second:  What went wrong at Amazon?

Then, today, I received a Facebook message from my friend Isabelle in France:  I’m looking forward to get my copy. The delivery is being delayed. Have a great date, Sydney. Wish I were in the area and could attend the presentation and signing of your New Book.  I wrote:  Amazon?  Yes, she told me, but she is choosing to give it a few days before ordering anew from a local bookstore.

For me, those bits of information were the tip of an iceberg.  Where was the problem — with Amazon or with History Press?  Would the books I’ve ordered for my book signings arrive in time?  What’s the rest of the story as Paul Harvey used to say?  I got in touch with marvelous Elysia who handles all my book orders. She was wonderfully reassuring:  It must be an Amazon problem. Did they specify what the issue was? We have plenty of inventory and are shipping without issue.  

Whew!  The iceberg seems much less ominous — in fact, melting as we speak.  Take note, dear readers.  Buy locally!!!

Treasure In Plain Brown Wrapping

Monday, June 7th, 2021

A Package for The Author

It sat on the bench by our front door — a small, unprpossessing package addressed to me.  It had apparently been left by FedEx during our Friday Night Gathering and no one had noticed it as they left.  There it was, waiting patiently, on Saturday morning.

The minute I saw the return address, I knew the contents of that little package!  The first five hot-off-the-press copies of Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula!  Nestled in bubble wrap and with a packing slip tucked inside, there they were at long last!  As I always do when those first books arrive, I wondered how Arcadia Publishing arrived at “five” as the magic number for the free copies that the author gets before the books are sent out to retail outlets for presentation on the publication date — in this case, June 21st.

The Ten Stories in Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula

Twelve would be a better number — at least for this book.  One for Ralph whose research about Reverend Crouch prompted me to write the book; one for Cate who wrote the Foreword; one for Paul who drew the map; one for Vicki who took a specific photo for me (and did a drawing, besides); and one each for Colleen, Charlotte, Tiffany, Johanna, Michelle, Shelly and Doug, and Stephanie and Dave — all of whom were generous in telling me their stories and in sharing their experiences.  And maybe one for me.

But, eventually, those I’ve ordered will come and my thank-yous can be given!  Oh boy!  Oh boy!  Oh boy!  I hope everyone likes this one as much as I do!  (Especially 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.

Come on out to visit, Mrs. C.! It’s your day!

Saturday, October 31st, 2020

Vintage Halloween Postcard

Mrs. Crouch, known as Sarah to her family and close friends, arrived in Oysterville in the fall of 1892 — probably in October.  She accompanied her husband, the Reverend Josiah Crouch, whose salary (according to notations in the Record of Accounts of the Oysterville Baptist Church) began on November 1st of that year.  So, it is probable that the family spent Halloween of 1892 in this house which, beginning with their stay and for the next ten years, was the Baptist Parsonage.

Whether or not Halloween was celebrated in Oysterville in those years or by the Crouch family, in particular, is unknown.  Family members included Josiah and Sarah, their infant daughter Grace, Grandma Crouch and Josiah’s fourteen-year-old brother,  Charley.  If any “celebrating” was done it was probably by Charley — if we are to believe reports of what was going on in Ilwaco around the same time.

Vintage Halloween Postcard

John G. Williams, Sr. (known in our family as “Old Jack”) was born in 1897.  Granted, that was a few years later than the Crouch Family’s stay in Oysterville, but this is what he recalled about Halloween in his boyhood:

(from Johnny Stories: Scenes from My Boyhood in Old Ilwaco, by John G . Williams, Sr., as told to Joan Frances Mann, published by Rosemary Folklore, December 1987):
Halloween was kind of a bad night in Ilwaco. I wasn’t permitted to go out much, but the bigger boys roamed around most of the night doing devilment of various kinds. Everybody had boats, and they would pack a boat up the hill – maybe a 10 or 12 foot skiff – and put it in the schoolhouse in a room on the desks. Or they were great for coming up to my father’s barn. We had a nice carriage to ride around in on Sunday and they’d let it roll down the hill. And everybody had an old outhouse, a privy.  They tipped them over.  That was real good.  Or they’d hoist things up on the telephone poles. Just mischievous . I wasn’t allowed to get in on any of that. But we got up early next morning to go round the town and see what devilment had been done. Those were big fellows 18, 19, 20 years old…. 

Vintage Halloween Postcard

So, Mrs. Crouch… if you missed out on the Halloween experience here or elsewhere due (in part) to your untimely death on July 15, 1893 — this year is your golden opportunity.  Or should I say, “your Blue Moon opportunity”?   Yes!  It’s the second full moon of the month — which won’t happen again on Halloween until 2077!.  Also, it’s the end of Daylight Savings Time (which you never heard of in your lifetime). And, it’s also Halloween during a world-wide Pandemic (which is like the Influenza Epidemic 1889-1893 that you might remember).  It’s bound to be quiet in Oysterville which is already seriously children-deprived, anyway.

So, come on out, Mrs. C., and have a cup of tea and a good, long visit!  But let’s promise… no tricks, please!

Another of Life’s Little Mysteries

Monday, February 25th, 2019

The Little Bedroom

In our house, if something strange can’t rightfully be attributed to Mrs. Crouch (our resident ghost), Nyel has the perfect catch-all category. Mrs. C. usually gets credit for doors that swing open for no reason or for pictures that suddenly fall off the wall and, always, for anything that goes missing.  She still has Nyel’s car keys from last March!

But, in a big and ancient house like ours, “shit happens” as they say.  Nyel, ever the gentleman, has never adopted that particular phrase (no matter how descriptive.)  He simply shrugs and says, “another of life’s little mysteries.”

A prime example has happened within the last few weeks.  Or more accurately, the discovery has been made that recently. I was upstairs laying out fresh towels and double-checking for dust and cobwebs last week in preparation for a visit from the cousins and, much to my amazement, found a large paint-less spot on the floor of the “little bedroom.”  It’s a room seldom used and has a brightly painted teal-colored floor.  There, between the bed and the nightstand was an area about the size of the lid of a small yoghurt  carton that is completely devoid of paint!

Mystery Spot in the Little Bedroom

How could that have happened?  Maybe something spilled and took the paint right off?  But what?  And when?  As always in situations like this, I wonder if it’s been like that for some time and I just now noticed.  But wouldn’t some guest have mentioned it?  Actually… probably not.  People are usually too polite to point out household defects or blemishes.

So, the only thing to do is to move forward.  As in, do we still have any of that particular floor paint left?  And if I just sand the edges around the area and clean the surface carefully, will a couple of swipes of paint do the trick?  Of course, it’s one of those things that I’d ordinarily leave to Nyel, but his going-upstairs days are on hold for the foreseeable future. Where are the relatives of those shoemaker’s elves, anyway?

Upstairs in Our House

Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

Killer Stairs

I love the upstairs in our house.  But, for the last few years, I don’t love the killer stairs I must climb to get there.  I think the biggest reason for my lack of ascension (just to the upper story, not to heaven) is arthritically related.  That and the fact that my Aunt (by marriage) Cleo fell down these very stairs when she was twenty years younger than I – due to a breaking hip Dr. Campiche said.  That thought is frightening, even though Cleo survived.

But when I do go up – to get guest rooms ready for visitors, mostly – I do love it.  There are four bedrooms up there, all very different from one another, and over my 80+ years, each has been “mine” at one time or another.  No matter how much time passes, I still feel the age and circumstances of my occupancy of that particular room.

In the Little Room

The Little Room on the northwest side is the first one I remember.  It was my room from the time of my first visit here to my Granny and Papa’s in 1938.  My clearest memory of it was of waking up crying and my grandmother coming in and making everything all right.  I think I had wet the bed – a circumstance that had not happened to me, apparently, for some time, and I was frightened and disoriented until Granny came to the rescue.  Interestingly, I don’t remember the trauma as much as I remember my grandmother’s warm embrace and soothing murmurs.

Next door to the south is the Pink Room.  It was mine throughout my teenage years whenever I was in Oysterville.  The summer before my sophomore year in high school my best friend Joanne and I came up from California to work at Dorothy Elliott’s Camp Willapa.  We spent our ‘time off’ here in Oysterville and shared that room.  As I remember, we took full advantage (maybe only once) of the fact that we could get out by climbing down the roof and onto the top of our boyfriends’ Model A.  Neither Joanne nor I could ever remember how we got back into the house.  Not a good room for teenagers!

View from the East Bedrooms

The room always called the “North Room” is on the east side of the house and has a view to the north and a balcony to the east – a balcony from which there is a fabulous view of the bay.  It’s the biggest bedroom and, these days I think of it as my son Charlie’s room, but it is also the first choice for guests.  It’s the bedroom that I was ‘assigned’ by my Aunt Mona when I first came to Oysterville with a husband but my main memory of it is that it was in the desk of that room that I first found my aunt Medora’s diary.  I was 12, and as I look back on that discovery, I believe it was the beginning of my interest in family history and in the history of this area, in general.

Florence Sewing Machine – Patented 1850

Finally, there is the “Master Bedroom” with its magnificent east-facing view.  It belonged, in turn, to my grandparents, to my parents, and then to Nyel and me.  (When the stairs got too much for  each generation, we each in our turn moved to the downstairs bedroom which was originally the parlor.)  Now that Master Bedroom it is furnished with twin beds on the theory that when we have a full house, there are people who might share a room, if not a bed.

Except for those twin beds, all of the rooms upstairs still contain their original furniture, right down to old-fashioned springs and mattresses on two of the beds.  No one ever complains, nor do they mention any inconvenience about the tiny bathroom which is central to all the bedrooms and has been somewhat modernized with each generation.  And, distinctive to the connecting hallway are the transoms above each bedroom door – the 1869 answer to nighttime air circulation, I suppose.  The only other memorable feature of the upstairs is that, according to some, our resident ghost hangs out there.  Keep those transoms closed, I say!  More might be circulating than air.

Nyel, Mrs. Crouch, and the Great Pumpkin

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

Nyel’s Left Leg

Yesterday’s trip to Rebound netted Nyel a good report on progress thus far.  He was dismissed within a half hour and headed home minus the rest of his stitches, accompanied by copies of his latest X-rays and an appointment in four more weeks.  Plus, of course, the stern admonition, “Put no weight on your left foot.  None.”

The X-ray reveals eight (although the Dr. said there are more than nine) spikey looking screws that affix the metal plate to his shinbone.  Not a pretty sight!  If we hadn’t felt ready for Halloween before, we do now!  Maybe, like our ghostly Mrs. Crouch, the scary looking bone and its accoutrements is invisible, but we know it’s there!  All the time.

Spotty Delivery by the Great Pumpkin

We are also about ready to blame Mrs. C. for the disappearance of Nyel’s wedding ring.  Never mind that he’s lost enough weight so that, for the first time in 30-some years, it can just off his finger.  The fact that we’ve looked everywhere to no avail makes us highly suspicious that our ghostly resident is involved.  She’s usually not mean – just mischievous.

On the missing wedding ring front… Don, our clever plumber friend is coming later today armed with a camera with which he can search our garbage disposal without having to take it apart.  We’ve looked high and low in all the likely and unlikely places to no avail so this will be a last-ditch effort.  I am hopeful.  Nyel noticed that his ring finger was bare while drying his hands right after washing them at the kitchen sink.  We’ve not used the disposal since so… maybe.

Our Forever Pumpkin!

Meanwhile, the Great Pumpkin was apparently busy over the weekend scattering cheerful looking gourds hither and thither.  Actually, all the scattering was thither.  Like last year and the year before, no pumpkins were left in front of our house or the other pioneer Oysterville households.  We, like Linus, are not on the Great Pumpkin’s radar.  The good news, of course, is that we don’t need to deal with the rotting aftermath.

And besides, one of our friends brought us a year-round knitted pumpkin that is the perfect décor for our kitchen table!  Between that and Mrs. Crouch and Nyel’s awesome legbone, we are definitely ready for tomorrow!

Three outta four ain’t so bad, eh?

Friday, April 6th, 2018

Car Key!

Well, Nyel doesn’t really agree, but I’m thinking that we made great progress in the Lady Luck (or perhaps the Mrs. Crouch) Department yesterday. Three out of four big losses were solved!  Just like that!

First off, I found my car keys! (And just hours after we had ordered a replacement which will cost $250 for the key and another $70 to have it ‘programmed.’)  The key was in a pocket of my jacket – a pocket that I only vaguely knew was there.  And it wasn’t actually IN the pocket.  It was caught up high in the upper corner – kind of in a pocket peninsula.  I had checked it (and checked it and checked it) before.  Nothing.  This time I was picking the jacket up and felt something through the fabric…

I had long ago come to terms with the fact that the keys were in Montesano.  I was picking up the jacket to see if, by chance, Nyel’s checkbook was underneath it.  Nope. But, happily, Nyel found the checkbook a few minutes later – after, of course, he had put a hold on all our banking activity.  The check book was under the passenger seat in the car.  And while we were looking for it…


Yep! I found my old coin purse – lost since last December.  Still in it was $13 in cash and my debit card which I long ago cancelled and had replaced.  That coin purse was in the pocket on the back of the passenger seat in the car.  I must have put it there for some reason but I have no memory of doing so.  And why would I?

So… my car key, Nyel’s checkbook, my coin purse – all found within fifteen minutes of one another.  Still missing:  Nyel’s car key – the only one of the four missing items that we know for sure is in the house.  Go figure.

Coin Purse!

We called Bud Cleary’s to cancel the order for my car key.  It was a tad embarrassing as it had been only an hour since we placed the order.  “No,” the man said.  “Your order can’t be cancelled.  We’ve already cut the key.”  Say what?  Before I could make a great big noisy fuss all the way to Longview, he said, “…but we can’t make you buy it.”

I can only hope that we find Nyel’s key by Monday.  That’s drive-to-Longview-and-buy-his-replacement-key-day.  Come on, Mrs. Crouch! Work with us here!