Ghosts - Haints - Spooky

The Golden Arm

Campfire ghost stories

Some ghost stories are labeled campfire stories since they are often told around the campfire and are usually harmless enough to be told to children. The stories have become so common that they are spread across the nation and most folks have heard a version of the stories at some point in their lives.

Campfire stories often end on a humorous note or with the story teller yelling BOO at the end to break the spell and remind the kids it’s only a story. One I heard often as a child told the tale of an old man and woman who moved into a house by a pond. Each night after they went to bed they would hear an eerie voice saying ‘it floats it floats’. The story teller would embellish the tale by describing how creepy the place was and using their best scary voice. As the story ended the mystery was solved: Ivory soap floats.

Brenda S. ‘Okie in Colorado’ sent me this:

“This is a scary story my Granny used to tell me when I was a child. The difference, is that she kept repeating, “Who’s got my gol…den arm, who’s got my gol…den arm. Then she would grab me and say, YOU have it!”

THE GOLDEN ARM By Joseph Jacobs

There was once a man who traveled the land all over in search of a wife. He saw young and old, rich and poor, pretty and plain, and could not meet with one to his mind. At last he found a woman, young, fair, and rich, who possessed a right arm of solid gold. He married her at once, and thought no man so fortunate as he was. They lived happily together, but, though he wished people to think otherwise, he was fonder of the golden arm than of all his wife’s gifts besides.
At last she died. The husband put on the blackest black, and pulled the longest face at the funeral; but for all that he got up in the middle of the night, dug up the body, and cut off the golden arm. He hurried home to hide his treasure, and thought no one would know.
The following night he put the golden arm under his pillow, and was just falling asleep, when the ghost of his dead wife glided into the room. Stalking up to the bedside it drew the curtain, and looked at him reproachfully. Pretending not to be afraid, he spoke to the ghost, and said: “What hast thou done with thy cheeks so red?”
“All withered and wasted away,” replied the ghost, in a hollow tone.
“What hast thou done with thy red rosy lips?”
“All withered and wasted away.”
“What hast thou done with thy golden hair?”
“All withered and wasted away.”
“What hast thou done with thy Golden Arm?”
“Thou Hast It!”


I’m glad Brenda sent the story. The Golden Arm is perhaps the most popular campfire ghost story there is. I know I’ve heard several versions of it.



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  • Reply
    Keith Jones
    October 27, 2016 at 7:38 am

    I told my version of this tale the other night at Vogel state park.

  • Reply
    October 30, 2014 at 1:30 am

    Our Cousin Rick use to tell all the spooky stories to us as children.
    I remember one night sitting in the dark on the steps of the side porch with an old pet beagle dog in my lap, with Rick telling a scary story, can’t remember which it was, but as it came to it’s crescendo and he yelled the final words, his yell scared the dog and the darn dog pee’d right in my lap.
    We laughed and laughed about that. I still do.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    October 29, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    I enjoyed the story of the “golden
    arm”. Don’t recon I ever heard that
    PS: Hey Tipper, we might get to
    make some snowcream if this cold
    spell gets close enough.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 29, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    Mommy! Where is Daddy?
    Have you ever slipped out on a moonless night just to feel the breeze in your face and to listen to the sounds of the night? You follow the path up into the holler far enough that the lights from the house are gone. But you can still hear noises from home, so you go on a little farther. You’ve been here many times. You know every rock and root. On your right you hear the gurgling of the little branch that has been beside you since the path began. The only other sounds you hear are your footsteps in the leaves that have blown onto the path. Now you stop and listen for sounds from back at the house. You don’t hear anything. You don’t hear anything! Where is the little branch? Maybe the leaves have blown across it too and muffled the sound. Be real still and listen.
    Now you hear the wind in the trees along the ridgeline. Nothing else. It’s time to go home. You turn to follow the path back the way you came but something reaches out and stops you. It feels like a laurel bush. You are confused. You’ve turned too far or maybe not far enough. Alright now, turn all the way around until you feel an opening. There is none! You’ve been in a laurel thicket before but never after dark without a light. There is only one way out. Get down and crawl under the tangle of limbs. But which way?
    The wind is beginning to howl through the trees up on the ridge and is picking up down here too. You start to feel a little chill. It’s going to get cold tonight! The laurels are blocking much of the wind but you can’t stay here. You get down on your belly and start to crawl. You are in a deep carpet of leaves but it’s damp and your clothes are already getting wet. And now you can’t stand up. The laurels have you pinned to the ground. Your only choice now is to keep crawling. Crawl until you’re out of this hell or crawl until you can’t crawl any more. Pray you find the little branch and the path that leads home. If not you can try to pack leaves under yourself to block the cold dampness of the ground and cover yourself with more to keep away the cold air. You will wait here until the light returns.

  • Reply
    Melissa P (Misplaced Southerner)
    October 29, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Oh, just love a good ghost story – especially when they are true. The Ivory Soap story takes me back to when I was a very little girl. That was the campfire story most often repeated.
    I guess I’ve seen more than my fair share of ghosts. Most have been fleeting glimpses, but a couple were really quite clear. The most bittersweet was as I was readying for our wedding at the restaurant where we had our wedding. This was no normal restaurant. It was a former plantation near Atlanta. It had been named Bushy Park during the War Between the States. There are still mini-balls in the woodwork. It was saved from the torch thanks to the owner having been a business associate of several highly-placed Yankee businessmen. During the war, it was used as a Union hospital. My apparition was that of a young woman. She looked into the room as I was putting on my wedding dress. I saw her in the mirror. Her expression was hard to explain. It was a happy-sadness. It only then occurred to me that she was in “period” dress. As I turned to speak, she was gone. None of the staff at The Planters (that was the name given to the restaurant) was in period dress. When I asked about the young woman, several people looked amazed and then shook their heads. They didn’t know who she was, but she had been seen on other occasions. She seems to be waiting for someone, but that someone never came. I guess she just peeked in to wish me – in her only way – well in my marriage. I always felt as though that was her purpose and was never frightened. Our marriage started in a place that withstood some of the hardest of times has withstood almost 30 years. I guess her good wishes helped.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    October 29, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Love the story, “The Golden Arm,” and have heard (and read) it in slightly different versions.
    Happy Halloween to all of you faithful readers! And to Tipper & the Blind Pig Gang!

  • Reply
    October 29, 2014 at 8:47 am

    Ah! Another new story for me to remember. During Halloween week I used to read short ghost stories to my students. They seemed to always look forward to the week of their creative writing stories and the reading of the one I choose for them. Wish I still had those books, but I gave them away.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 29, 2014 at 6:46 am

    I love scary campfire stories. Especially, this time of year!
    One of my all time favorites was supposed to be true. There is more truth in myths and legend than one realizes….
    Two of my friends, whom I won’t disclose decided one evening after football practice to take a shortcut. The church graveyard went right along side of he road on their way home. Just for fun, they decided to take the shortcut through the graveyard since it was not quite dark and enough light to see to walk. Well, the trees along side of the road shaded it and was darker in there than they realized. Soon they heard a tap, tap taping sound. The faster they walked toward the other side of the graveyard the louder it got. Their hearts were beating and they were trottin’ by this time. Just as the got to the edge and just before they got to the road, there sat a man hunched over a grave stone hammering and chipping away. They said, “You scared us to death!” He turned to them with no face and said, “These fools that made my marker misspelled my name!”
    Yep, they jumped the ditch out of the graveyard onto the road an hi-tailed it home! True story, myth or something like that!
    Loved this post Tipper,
    PS…When one sees over thirty crows in one place, never seen that many before around here, all together on a gravel road…Are they still called a “murder of crows” or could that many be called a “massacre of crows”!!
    Almost plumb scary!

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