Saturday, November 1, 2008

Telling Stories

Last night, on the official Halloween, was the second annual ghost walk in Kent. Last year this was quite a success, so this year there will be two nights. I am one of the storytellers stationed at the various places purported to be "haunted." I lucked out last year by being at the great old Kent mansion on the hill. It was the home of the person for whom the town was named. It's a wonderful, magnificent house, which has belonged to the Masons for over 80 years. It's beautiful inside, with walnut woodwork, vast rooms with high ceilings and exquisite workmanship throughout. The Masons have, over the years, taken loving care of it.

Back in the 1880s, one of the Kent women was burned to death while trying to light a heating stove in the ballroom. There have been sightings of the figure of a young woman, dressed in white, wandering around in the billiard room, or floating down the graceful winding staircase. Her grieving husband had sat on the great porch in his rocking chair, and after his death some 15 years later, the empty chair was seen rocking all by itself.

Well, I don't believe in ghosts, but I think these are fine stories for the telling, and last year I had such a good time. I sat in the massive doorway with a lantern at my feet. We had over 200 people from all over during the 3 hours. I had never had to tell the same story 10 times, and by the third hour I felt as if I was babbling a bit.

This year I was not so lucky. Stories had been solicited from the public and I was given a story which in itself was a good one, except that there was no background that would explain why this particular place might be haunted. I was finally able to work it into a narrative of sorts. I had assume that I would be able to stand or sit on the porch of the "haunted" house, but no one had bothered to tell the present occupants, and I was relegated to standing across the street and pointing to it as I wove my tale.

Unfortunately, right behind me was a storefront church which was sponsoring a Halloween party for teenagers, complete with a really loud rock band, heavy on the drums and bass (MBOWMBOWMBOW) and that sort of guttural screaming stuff, like "OWOWOWOW "- Rockin' with Jesus, I guess. The kids were very nice, not rowdy, polite, but VERY NOISY. The "music" was coming from inside the building, but many of the kids were congregating in front of their "church." They politely moved out of the way when the tour groups came along. I couldn't move too far away from the noise because my ghost-ridden house could best be seen from that vantage point, avoiding the trees screening it. I couldn't cross the street because there was a lot of traffic and the large groups in the tour might have gotten stranded waiting to cross and it would have slowed things down, with tour groups piling up on each other. Or worse, turned into group road kill. Which would maybe create a whole new ghost story for next year.

In a way, it worked, because once in a while the moaning electric bass came in at the point where the ghost showed up in my story. I had parked my car right there, so between groups I could sit in the car and listen to NPR and try to drown out the booming music. I was there from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and the weather was mild and not too cold. Tonight someone else will be at that spot and will not have to compete with the Christian teenyboppers.

I don't think I shall do it next year, but I have certainly enjoyed it up to this point. I'm learning that a lot of people actually believe in ghosts. I have decided that these are Sarah Palin people, bless their hearts. And my ears are still recovering.

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