Peggy and I had lunch with my sister Nancy and her husband Jim yesterday. With Halloween a day away, my thoughts turned to the Graveyard that loomed so ominously behind our house when we were growing up. While my brother Marshall and I had a healthy respect for its inhabitants, my sister Nancy Jo’s fear of dead people bordered on monumental. This tale relates to her encounter with the Graveyard Ghost as a teenage girl. I trot this story out every couple of years for Halloween. You may have read it before.
My sister was seven years older than I and lived on a different planet, the mysterious world of teenage girls. Her concern about ghosts makes this story a powerful testimony to teenage hormones. It begins with Nancy falling in ‘love’ with the ‘boy’ next door, Johnny.
Johnny’s parents were good folks from a kids’ perspective. Marshall and I raided their apple trees with impunity and Mama, a big Italian lady, made great spaghetti. I was fascinated with the way she yelled “Bullll Sheeeet” in a community-wide voice when she was whipping Papa into line. He was a skinny, Old Country type of guy who thought he should be in charge.
I use the terms love and boy somewhat loosely since Nancy at 15 was a little young for love and Johnny, a 22-year-old Korean War Veteran, was a little old for the boy designation, not to mention Nancy. Our parents were not happy, a fact that only seemed to encourage my sister.
Her teenage hormones aided by a healthy dose of rebellion overcame her good sense and she pursued the budding relationship. Johnny didn’t make it easy. His idea of a special date was to drive down the alley and honk. Otherwise, he avoided our place. If Nancy wanted to see him, she had to visit his home.
It should have been easy; his house was right behind ours. But there was a major obstacle, the dreaded Graveyard.
Nancy had to climb over the fence or walk up the alley past the Graveyard to visit. Given her feelings about dead people, the solution seemed easy— climb the fence. Marsh and I had been over many times in search of apples. Something about teenage girl dignity I didn’t understand eliminated fence climbing, however.
Nancy was left up the alley without an escort.
While she wasn’t above sneaking out of the house, Nancy asked permission to see Johnny the night of the Graveyard Ghost attack. She approached Mother around seven. It was one of those warm summer evenings where the sun is reluctant to go down and boys are granted special permission to stay up. Marshall and I listened intently.
“Mother, I think I’ll go visit Johnny,” Nancy stated and asked in the same sentence. Careful maneuvering was required. An outright statement would have triggered a parental prerogative no and an outright question may have solicited a parental concern no.
Silence. This communicated disapproval, a possible no, and a tad of punishment for raising the issue.
“Mother?” We were on the edge of an impending teenage tantrum. Nancy could throw a good one.
“OK” with weary resignation followed by, “but you have to be home by ten.”
What we heard was TEN. Translate after dark. Nancy would be coming down the alley past the Graveyard in the dark and she would be scared. Knowing Johnny’s desire to avoid my parents, we figured she would also be alone. A fiendish plot was hatched.
At 9:45 Marsh and I slipped outside and made our way up the alley to a point half way between our house and Johnny’s. Next we took a few steps into Graveyard where weed-like Heavenly Trees and deep Myrtle provided perfect cover. Hiding there at night was scary but Marshall and I were operating under inspiration.
Marsh stripped the limbs off of one of the young trees, bent it over like a catapult, and draped his white T-shirt on the trunk. We then scrunched down and waited.
At exactly ten, Nancy opened the back door and stepped outside with Johnny. Our hearts skipped a beat. Would he walk her home? No. After a perfunctory goodnight, Johnny dutifully went back inside and one very alone sister began her hesitant but fateful walk down the alley.
She approached slowly, desperately looking the other direction to avoid seeing tombstones and keeping as far from the Graveyard as the alley and fence allowed. At exactly the right moment, we struck. Marshall let go of the T-shirt and the supple Heavenly Tree whipped it into the air. It arched up over the alley and floated down in front of our already frightened sister. We started woooooing wildly like the eight and eleven year old ghosts we were supposed to be.
Did Nancy streak down the alley to the safety of the House? No. Did she figure out her two little brothers were playing a trick and commit murder? No. Absolute hysteria ensued. She stood still and screamed. She was feet stuck to the ground petrified except for her lungs and mouth; they worked fine.
As her voice hit opera pitch, we realized that our prank was not going as planned. Nancy was not having fun. We leapt out to remedy the problem.
Two bodies hurtling at you out of a graveyard in the dark of night is not a recommended solution for frayed nerves and intense fear of dead people. The three of us, Nancy bawling and Marshall and I worrying about consequences, proceeded to the house. As I recall, our parents were not impressed with our concept of evening entertainment. I suspect they laughed after we went to bed. Sixty years later, Nancy, Marshall and I still are.
Happy Halloween to our friends in the blogging world!
Curt and Peggy
33 thoughts on “The Scary Tale of the Graveyard Ghost”
Great story. I remember about 1970 we got the keys to the church bell tower (we were in the choir) and on Halloween we climbed to the top and lit candles and lanterns. It was all a huge disappointment. No one noticed, no local residents were scared out of their wits and we didn’t make the local press!
Thanks, Andrew. Screams, you needed screams from a loudspeaker. The more realistic the better. (Grin) People would have paid attention. You might have even solicited some police attention. –Curt
Love the story and the prank gone bad. Also, enjoyed the phrase “lived on a different planet” because that’s what sisters do! Happy Halloween to you both. And don’t try pranking Peggy. She’s on to you!
Peggy says, “You got it.” I’d be paying for months.:) Happy Halloween back. –Curt
🙂 Don’t you just know it!
We’re in the same boat — we’re on to each other. Although, Bert does get me every once in a while!!!
All part of the fun… 🙂
OMG OMG OMG If I was Nancy I would not be laughing, not even 60 years later. You little batshit rats! Lol. As only boys can be. But I’m not Nancy, so I’m having a good chuckle. Fabulous pumpkins too!
Batshit rats, eh. 🙂 I’ll have to share that one with Nancy. I suspect you will get some agreement. Peggy is laughing now. Glad it gave you a chuckle. –Curt
Well having told the whole story to Don he too is laughing. One crazy prank and 60 yrs later many people are laughing. It can’t be bad 🙂
Humor is good! And often more so in retrospect. Even Nancy gets it now. 🙂
I love that story! Probably because it wasn’t me you pranked. 😉 Then again, I’m too much of a skeptic to fall for ghosts. But two guys jumping out of the dark at me? Yep, that’d do it.
Thanks, Carrie. 🙂 I am more skeptical now than I was then. I slept outside at night during the summer and the tombstones kept me company. I had a whole menagerie of animals sleeping on my bed for protection. –Curt
Haha, that always helps.
Great story! So cool to have siblings.
She would have quickly traded us in for a couple of sisters at the time, or even a good dog. 🙂 –Curt
Graveyards bring out a different level of screaming, and Nancy had every right!
Marshall and I figured that one out, belatedly. We just had the wrong solution. I suspect that any solution would have been wrong. (grin) –Curt
A great story of how things turned out differently. It made me think of how my brother’s twin sons had tied a rat on a long bamboo stick in such a way that when you opened the neighbour’s gate to the front yard, the rat would rise up like magic. This was during a wedding party when all the invited guests turned up. They thought it was something strange that the owners of the house had done to add some fun. It wasn’t appreciated.
So, Gerard, I assume it was a dead rat. Not wanting a rat at your wedding? Wonder why? Peggy and I had a bone at ours. The minister was a little ticklish on the issue but told us it was okay as long as the bone stayed off of the Bible.:) –Curt
Curt, I think you need to explain about the Bone!
🙂 I thought that might be the case. Bone has been traveling the world for close to 40 years. So there is a long story. A friend and I found him while we were backpacking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1977. Many people have carried him over the years. My blog was once known as the Peripatetic Bone. I’ll do a post one of these days. –Curt
Oh my, the story never gets old. I had a good laugh again 🙂
Glad to hear Timi. One should be able to retell good stories. (grin) If you and I are still around the blogging world in a couple of years, you may see it again. –Curt
Great story. I hope Nancy found a good way to get her revenge. 🙂
I think it was called “parents” that night. 🙂
Curt – I have read it before. Just now, I read it again. Excellent prank. Fun story. Nancy eventually took it like a good sport.
It took a while for her to come around, Bruce. We must have been in our 20s before she started laughing. –Curt
Brothers! What fun. Great lanterns too.
Another Graveyard tale featured the family dog, Tickle. Marshall (3years older) persuaded me to go into the Graveyard around 11 PM one night. I was probably 6 or 7 and only entered because of a double dare. When we were in the middle I heard a noise behind a tombstone. Marshall heard it as well and we went charging out of the Graveyard as fast as young legs could carry us, with the creature of the dark in hot pursuit. Barking.
Hello brother dear! I have a confession to make…finally after all these years, I have to admit that I really remember this night! And I have to tell you now that I was not scared one bit…I knew what was happening and I just acted like I was scared to pieces! Didn’t faze me at all! I decided right away to drag it out, because, the more I appeared to be totally out of it – the worse the punishment would be by our parents!!!
Ha! I know terror when I see it. Nice try, Nancy. But really funny. On the other hand, the parents were focused on us… Hmmm. (Laughing hard.) –Curt