Chatter and Chitter Ghosts - Haints - Spooky

Being Afraid

Corie and Katie

Chatter and Chitter

This is the time of the year folks talk about haints and other spooky things.

Last week the girls and I traveled out to Black Mountain for a performance. We had a really good time. The kind folks even put us up for the night.

The event, Black Mountain Music Festival, was held at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly. The grounds are beautiful with several old buildings. The one we stayed in had long hallways which the girls immediately said reminded them of The Shining.

While we were teasing about whether or not we’d see twins coming down the hallway on big wheels we also talked about things we were afraid of as children. I was afraid of everything!

Since I was the only girl I got a room by myself while Paul and Steve had to share. Most of the time I was glad, but at night I often wished I shared my bedroom with someone too.

Sometimes I’d get so paralyzed with fear that I couldn’t move. I would scare myself to the point that I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I’d pull the covers up tight over my head and peek out every once in a while to see what was coming to get me. I’d beg Pap and Granny to leave the hallway light on so I wouldn’t be so terrified. My older brother Steve complained it hurt his eyes. Looking back I wonder why he didn’t just shut the door 🙂

Summer nights were the worst. With no air conditioning all the windows were open to allow the cooler air to come in and help us sleep better. My imagination really ran away with me, all those open windows with only a screen to stop something from getting me.

I never did myself any favors. I always wanted to watch the scary things that came on tv. Pap would warn me not to or I’d pay for it. I’d beg and plead until he gave in and then as soon as the show was over I’d start crying about having to sleep by myself.

One time really stands out in my mind.

I finally said I was going to bed down in the hallway if no one would sleep with me. I got a pillow and blanket and settled down outside Pap and Granny’s bedroom. Pap finally gave in and slept with me.

It took me a long time to figure it out, but I finally stopped watching scary stuff.

When the girls were little they didn’t really seem to be scared of much or so I thought. As we talked about childhood fears they both said they were scared of every little sound.

I do remember Chatter telling me “Momma I’m scared of my house.” It was always at night when she’d hug me tight and tell me she was afraid of her house. She wouldn’t hardly go to the bathroom nor in one of the back rooms by herself.

Chatter saying she was scared of her house is funny, but I think she had mine and her fear figured out at three years old. During the day a house is so full of noise and life yet at night it seems so subdued and empty. I think that’s where our fear came from simply the change in atmosphere.


Last night’s video: Ginger Cookies and Stories from Cades Cove.

Tipper

Subscribe for FREE and get a daily dose of Appalachia in your inbox

You Might Also Like

24 Comments

  • Reply
    Angelyn Mclain
    October 28, 2021 at 9:59 am

    When I was young I went to the “movies” every Saturday morning. I didn’t care what the weather was I was going to be at the Rex theater with my weekly allowance. I didn’t care what was showing either. I will never forget seeing The Boggy Creek Monster picture. That evening we left and went to this lake house with my parents friends and I was just so scared! I knew that monster was gonna find me there! I also saw The Blob! These days I steer clear of scary movies but there was just something about being scared as a child that was just thrilling.

  • Reply
    Dennis M Morgan
    October 27, 2021 at 6:43 pm

    When I was a child I was afraid for a while after watching Frankenstein on TV. I didn’t want to go to sleep! On other occasions my Grandmother did not help with childhood fears by telling me and her other grandchildren that if we were not good either the Sack Man or Ole Bloody Bones (depending on who was on duty that day) would get us. She would even go to the door and call them to come and get us! I do not remember what crime we committed to warrant such a punishment. After a few trips to the door calling them and no one come I stopped worrying so much!

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    October 27, 2021 at 4:48 pm

    I was terrified that vampires would get me at night. Slept with my neck covered up and also my head at times. I was prone to bad dreams about mad dogs. I still don’t feel comfortable alone in the dark. When the Cuban Missile Crisis happened I dreamed about a little fat man chasing me up and down the road–I would stop & then he would too–there was no escape & I’ve never forgotten it. I think it was from Kruschev who was short & fat.

    Yall mentioning The Shining reminded me of getting terrified reading Salem’s Lot. I was reading it in bed late at night with just a reading light and darkness everywhere else. I panicked & woke my husband up! I was well into adulthood–at least mid-twenties!

  • Reply
    Charla
    October 27, 2021 at 1:59 pm

    Our family storyteller spoke about an occurrence that happened one night, long ago, to a member of the community that lies out past Lucretia. It happened in his grandparents’ time. Unfortunately, I don’t remember all the names, and I can’t get him to write anything down. The next family gathering we have, I’m recording him!

    They are putting on what they call ‘The Autumn Ball’ and it’s a big deal; everyone dresses up in their Sunday best: suits, ties, gloves and hats; it’s also an opportunity for the ladies to show off their skills in creating the most delicious food you could ever hope to eat as a mortal being.

    There’s many talented musicians in the community as well, and if you aren’t eating, you’re dancing because you can’t hope to hold still with all that joyful noise in the air.

    When everyone is tired and ready for seconds, that is when the storytellers step up. Most of them are older folks who have been around a while and are a living history of events that have happened: some of them are sad, with a moral lesson; many are hilarious tales of misadventures and quirky people; and some downright chilly-spooky.

    One of the stories making the rounds is based on an actual, recent tragedy. A local miner in the nearby coal mine had been beheaded in a mine accident a few months before. The rumors have his headless apparition appearing in various spots around the county, and as expected, everyone is a little twitchy after dark.

    When all is said — and done — and eaten, the fellow decides to join some friends at the river to add to his sneaky imbibing at the dance.

    Eventually, he’s had enough and makes his way home by moonlight, following the train rails along the river. He takes a serious stumble and manages to right himself, but as he comes up, a distinct tap on his back makes him whirl around.

    Nothing there.

    He quickens his pace, slips in the gravel-bed, and stumbles hard again. Without a doubt, something hits him between his shoulder blades and his first thought is — the headless miner.

    The way he tells it later: he didn’t know how he didn’t break a leg on the ties or the rail bed, didn’t know when he tore his shirt on the path through the woods behind the mill — he didn’t dare stop because the miner kept thumping him on his back, trying to catch him — and by the time he made it to his yard his legs would hardly hold him up, and his heart tried to jump out of his chest to go on without him.

    He bursts through the kitchen door, brings everyone out of their seats, bends over the back of a chair, and heaves his story out.

    His wife walks through the aghast family, places her hand on his back, lifts his heavy, cloth tie, and drops it onto his back. He had rotated his tie to hang behind him so as not to soil it.

    He may have soiled something else though.

  • Reply
    Robert
    October 27, 2021 at 1:32 pm

    Fear and being startled are two different things. I’m sure I fear some things, but more often my heart was made to race by being startled by the unexpected. Fear comes from lack of information and the imagination. For example, I’ve known people swear they are afraid of guns – and well they should be because they know nothing about them except that they are powerful and dangerous. After having them learn the parts, how they interact, and how to load and unload, carry, point and shoot, their fear turns to a healthy respect. My fear mostly comes from things I can’t control coupled with my imagination about what the forces that do control them might do. Government and politicians fall into that category for me. Occasionally, I’ll come to a half-awake, catatonic state where I’m aware I’m awake but can’t more or speak while in the grip of fear of something someone is about to do to me or someone else. I guess a psychiatrist could have a lot of meat to chew on that one.

    Most often I’ve been startled by the unexpected. Starting at least by age 10, I was out after dark and up long before dawn to deliver newspapers. During the dark of the moon, many of the places I had to walk to deliver them were without any but starlight. On a cloudy pre-dawn morn, it was black as pitch. On one part of my route I walked across back yards delivering papers to back porches which meant passing through gates and through thick hedges. One such dark morning as I passed through the hedge a large white dog the size of a Great Pyrenees rose up just as I came through and got an unexpected face full of cobwebs. I thought I was being caught by a ghost. I never saw that dog before or since. Needless to say, I finished the rest of that loop in record time.

  • Reply
    Cindy
    October 27, 2021 at 12:47 pm

    I don’t think I was afraid of much as a child because Mama didn’t threaten us with the Boogie Man and didn’t allow us to watch scary shows on TV. Our house is old and at night sometimes it creaks and groans. We also think we have ghosts, because sometimes it sounds like someone is walking down the downstairs hall wearing heavy boots. Revolutionary War and Civil War battles were fought around us, so I’m not surprised. Sometimes it sounds like someone is walking upstairs.

  • Reply
    Christine
    October 27, 2021 at 11:01 am

    I was afraid at night too, but being the youngest of five, I had a roommate up until the older three moved out and then us last two got our own rooms. I was always told by the two oldest siblings that a boogie man would get me, so while they all slept well, I was up in fear watching out for the boogie man. I don’t think I ever got a good nights sleep until I was a teenager and someone at church told me to start praying every time I was afraid, because God is bigger than our fears. I trusted God and He was faithful to calm my fears. I’ve pretty much have slept peacefully and soundly ever since. My hubby says sometimes I sleep to soundly and it wakes him up…lol…

    • Reply
      Stephen King
      October 27, 2021 at 7:33 pm

      Wasn’t there a book and movie written about you Christine? Now would be a good time to watch your movie again Christine!

  • Reply
    Lori Hughes
    October 27, 2021 at 10:44 am

    Oh Tipper, I remember doing that too! I hate to admit it but I used to scare myself even in my 30’s when my ex husband would work nightshift. Thankfully, I don’t do it anymore but I’m also never alone at night anymore or I probably would!

  • Reply
    Jane ODell
    October 27, 2021 at 9:39 am

    Yes! I can totally relate to being afraid. I do NOT watch scary movies. When my sister and I were 11 and 12 (I’m older), we begged and pleaded to stay up one Friday night and watch “The Birds”. Mom and Dad tried to tell us, but we persisted and they relented. My room was furthest down the hall from Mom and Dad. My sister and I slept together in her room that night and I have never watched another scary movie again! Lesson learned…listen to your parents!

  • Reply
    dee
    October 27, 2021 at 9:32 am

    I understand that fear of the dark as a child, and adult I have battled it too. We didn’t have air conditioning and had the windows up in the summer. I don’t know why but I had no fear of anything coming in the window.
    I enjoyed your video and your reading the old letters in the cookbook. The letters are part of the history of people living in the cove and lets you have a glimpse into the hard life they lived and survived cold weather and sickness.

  • Reply
    Kathy
    October 27, 2021 at 9:16 am

    I also watched a LOT of scarey movies. Why didn’t our parents make us go outside, or to bed? Here in the Upstate of SC and the surrounding area we had “Shock Theatre” on Saturday. Because of that I still have an irrational fear of quicksand. I’ve never seen quicksand.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 27, 2021 at 9:14 am

    I had to sleep with the light on until I realized that whatever was out there in the darkness could see me and I couldn’t see it.
    I never worried about sleeping with the winder open as long as there was a screen. I figure if that thing out there jumped through the screen it would strain itself.

  • Reply
    Shirl
    October 27, 2021 at 9:12 am

    We used to go to our aunt’s house and watch Chiller knowing we would have to pass the hainted spring as we ran to another aunt’s house where we were spending the night. The schools didn’t have sports like track or cross country back in those days, but if they had, I know four girls who would have been conditioned for the biggest competition. I still loved to watch a good suspense movie with the girls when they were teenagers. Movies like The Shining and You’ll Like My Mother were favorites but we never watched the silly horror shows like Halloween or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

  • Reply
    OkieJammer
    October 27, 2021 at 9:06 am

    Yep. You’re writing my own fears as a child too. And I loved old scary movies on TV … ha! How precious that memory of Pap sleeping next to you so you wouldn’t be scared.

  • Reply
    donna sue
    October 27, 2021 at 9:01 am

    What a wonderful post! Tipper, I shared a bedroom with two sisters, and I was still afraid of the house at night! Our bedroom door opened into the hall right at the upstairs landing. Being the house was built in 1890, it settled all night long. The third step coming upstairs especially. It groaned all day when someone stepped on it, and it moaned all night while the monsters and goblins danced over it – their feet never touching it, just the air. We slept with our bedroom door slightly open, too. Up until about 4th grade for me, my younger sister, Cindy, and I shared a double bed. My older sister, Lyn, always had her own twin bed. After my 4th grade, Cindy and I had bunk beds, I had the bottom bunk. In the summer there was no breeze reaching me on that bottom bed. So when a cool blast would finally hit me – my mind went wild imagining it was a ghost floating by, or worse – breathing on me while it stared at me. I almost wished for no cooling breeze! One year, and I don’t remember what started it, I imagined all the rolls and lumps my blanket made while I was under it, were snakes. I was constantly running to my parent’s room climbing in bed with them. Then I would see the rolls and bumps their blanket made, and I would keep them awake because I was terrified of snakes on their bed. I don’t remember how that brief period of night terror was resolved. I have never been able to be around scary tales or movies. I shouldn’t say never. My friend, Ruby, who just passed away, would tell the best ghost stories. To this day, I remember most of her stories. In grade school, we would walk around the empty school field at recess sometimes, where the baseball back stops were, and she would tell me the stories. That night I wouldn’t be able to sleep, but the next day I was begging for more stories! When my parents were first married, until I was 4, they lived in a house on a dirt road by where my Dad’s first truck yard was (he moved structures, so he kept all his trucks, dollies and timbers for lifting and moving the buildings there). There was a crawl space under the house that stray cats would be. I was probably about 2-ish, but had to have been potty trained. At night, the cats would do their in-heat noise. I thought there were large tigers under the house, they were so loud. I remember walking into the bathroom and being so scared that they would come in the window. One night really sticks out in my memory. The cats were yowling, and my Dad was yelling at them. Finally I heard my Mom yelling “No! That’s my best slipper! Don’t you throw it at the cats!”. Even to this day my memory still imagines it was tigers under the house, and not those silly cats, even though I know better.

    Donna. : )

  • Reply
    Kat Swanson
    October 27, 2021 at 8:54 am

    In my home in Wise County Va., what some call scary stories were almost daily fare. …my elders are documented keepers of Appalachian folklore and those stories and ballads were our bedtime or dinnertime tales. ” little Margaret appeared all dressed in white standing at his beds feet ” …well mamaw sung that to tell my 4 ugly brothers to beware of doing a woman wrong. We heard about the knocking sparrot… that knocked on the corners of a house to warn bad children. At college ,I later found an English tale called the KNOCKING SRIRIT….I asked mom where she’d first heard that tale and was told it came from her granny Nancy Emaline McGinness….and none of these women could have read it in any book.
    I learned to call all these oral heirlooms my cautionary tales….if you listened you would know how to live your life. Yes kids got scared listening but psychologists tell us having fears and working through them is training for life. Also I used to say …nothing is more fun than a scary story told in a safe place!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    October 27, 2021 at 8:48 am

    I only recall one thing that really scared me as a kid. Students at Swain High School put on a play each year, and the performance when I was in the 4th or 5th grade involved someone trapped in a mine. I woke up for many nights afterward frightened, and I’m still more than a tad claustrophobic to this day (as I found out when in an MRI machine).
    Otherwise, I didn’t have any big childhood fears, but just as a precaution it seemed wise to whistle and maybe walk a bit faster when going by a graveyard in the gloaming.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Sallie the apple doll lady
    October 27, 2021 at 8:42 am

    Isn’t most fear and worry simply in our heads? Isn’t it what we do to ourselves? Of course there are times there is a reason to be afraid but so many times it seems it’s what we let our own minds do to ourselves. I know a widow lady in her mid-80’s who can’t live alone. Even if one of her children is staying with her she locks her bedroom door and uses a potty chair at night although the bathroom is right beside her bedroom. The children had an alarm system installed in her house but she would still prop a chair under her doorknob. She’s in what would be considered a safe neighborhood in a rural area and on a main road. But she grew up in the house and was afraid at night as a child. So now she has to live with a single daughter in another town who has always lived alone. She also worries when I or other women are out at night, saying we should be home by dark. I can’t imagine living like that. I believe in being cautious but I refuse to live a life of complete fear.
    A friend told me recently that in her office with several other ladies they often walk up behind one another in their down time or jump from behind a cubicle wall to scare each other. She says it’s fun and a stress reliever and does not interfere with their work. Although they are aware it could happen any time she is always frightened.
    I think of using the dumb bulls my daddy made to scare relatives when we were kids. They thought a “booger” was going to get them for sure but afterwards wanted to use it to scare someone else. My sister and I scared some nieces and nephews off the front porch telling ghost stories with dumb bulls and they still talk about it 50 years later. For those who don’t know, a dumb bull is made by punching a hole in the center of the bottom of a large bucket or can (or daddy made one from a hollow log with an animal hide attached to the bottom). A string is run through the hole and a nail tied to the string. Inside the bucket the length of string is coated with pine rosin. The string extends through the open end of the bucket. The rosin is rubbed so that the hands stick a little, (don’t slide easily) making a roaring sound as the finger tried to slide from inside to outside the bucket. It can be fun. I think it should only be used in fun and not to scare someone who is naturally frightened.
    My sons slept in the same room as children and usually one wanted the hall light left on when the other didn’t and one wanted the door closed when the other didn’t! Why is that usually the case?
    Being scared can be a life of misery or fun to different people.

  • Reply
    Margie G
    October 27, 2021 at 7:56 am

    I think you hit fear well this morning. In the day, there’s a constant racket and you can see well. At night, you hear every noise because it’s still and you can’t see (without night vision goggles.) I think people in general get fearful at night although, realistically, day is just as scary. I’ve never heard of criminals saying let’s wait til night cause it will be more scary to commit a crime… as a matter of fact with God, guns and faith, I sleep like Rip Van Winkle over here… I don’t watch scary crap because life is scary enough for me. I rarely have nightmares and I’m careful about what I allow these precious eyes to watch. It’s a battle for my soul and I’m aiming to let Jesus win…. PS Steve didn’t close the door cause he was AFRIGHTED too…. lol

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 27, 2021 at 7:44 am

    I probably was not afraid enough growing up. Hard to figure how I managed to grow up at all much less never break a bone doing it. I don’t recall ever being afraid of the dark. Dad probably taught us boys that by example ’cause he took us catfishing and coon hunting. Those were nightime events so we learned there was nothing in the woods or on the river that much different from daytime, just looked different. That even surprises me because my step-grandpa liked to tell stories of witches and haints. I guess if anything fearful had ever happened to me in the night things would have turned out differently.

    There are things I do fear though; things connected with fulfilling adult responsibilities. The kinds of things you can’t get ahold of and wrestle to the ground and resolve. And I fear for others, like the what the future holds for the kids. Snakes, ghosts, witches, wild animals, bad weather and bad health are easier to deal with than those kinds of things.

  • Reply
    SusieQ
    October 27, 2021 at 7:27 am

    I can relate to childhood fears … especially watching a scary movie that at that age scared me so bad , I never watched it again … The next day after watching that movie I didn’t look at a line of birds sitting on a wire the same for a long while…(can ya guess the movie?) I didn’t like earthquakes when I was young from reading one too many horror stories about them … I just knew the earth was gonna open up and swallow us haha.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 27, 2021 at 6:38 am

    I was afraid of the dark as a child it’s really not the dark, I think it’s the unseen that I was afraid of. I seemed to have some notion that if I could see “it” then I could battle it but as long as it was unseen I couldn’t do anything about it…whatever “it” was.
    Childs minds are an interesting and mysterious thing!

    • Reply
      Jane ODell
      October 27, 2021 at 9:41 am

      Yes! and especially at night our minds seem to run wild about what that unseen thing might be! It’s comforting to know I was not the only one.

    Leave a Reply