The Time Granny Thought She Saw a Ghost

Granny

Granny, her mother Gazzie, and her nephew Winston

More than a few folks in Granny’s family left the mountains of NC for the factories of Michigan. Some of them came back home and some of them made a new home up north and only came home for holidays and vacations.

Granny is the third youngest in her large family of nine children with two brothers, James and Lucky just below her. Their parents were Gazzie and Charlie Jenkins.

Gazzie’s brother Byers and his family lived near Gazzie and Charlie. Granny said the house was white but it was so dusty it looked yellow and they all called it the little yellow house. She said “Uncle Byers said we couldn’t call it the white house noway because we sure ain’t that important.”

Byers moved his family to Michigan for work and Granny said they missed them something terrible.

One day Gazzie sent Granny and James to her oldest daughter Faye’s house to get taters. They had an ole toe-sack to carry the taters in. It was about three-fourths full and heavy for two little kids to carry. They took turns holding the heavy sack as they walked back home.

Granny and James didn’t know it, but Byers had come home from Michigan to get his family’s furniture.

Byers was shaving and just as Granny and James came up the hill by his house he stuck his soaped up face in the window and made a sound like a ghost. Granny said she shoved the taters at James and took off running as fast as her bare feet could go. She stubbed her big toe on a root, but kept on going. James was right behind her running as fast as his little legs would go holding tight to the taters the whole way.

Byers loved to play jokes and for the rest of his life he’d tell the story of scaring Granny and James. He said James was running so fast the sack of tater was sticking straight out behind him.

—-

Every memory I have of Uncle Byers is one of him laughing with a twinkle in his eye. Although I don’t mention it much, music was a big part of Granny’s family too. In a couple of weeks I hope to let you hear a song from Byers.

Tipper

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17 Comments

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 31, 2018 at 6:23 am

    Tipper,
    I sometimes think that scaring children was a right of passage in the mountains…especially when it comes to passing some of the haint stories along…These folks “theirownselves” was scared as children and they eventually toughened up! So they think their duty is to toughen up the younger ones…maybe?
    Can you imagine as a child hearing of folks plowing or walking across a field and just disappearing never to be seen or heard of again. Maybe the stories of passing graveyards and seeing lights over new graves. Or how about visiting the old home place…the Grandparents already passed…and the family hearing voices coming from the empty house. Then there are stories of the Aunt/Uncles/young children.. staring from the upstairs windows when they’ve been dead and buried for years. Maybe it’s the tales of animals like the gathering of crows on chimneys or the moaning dogs and odd meowing and staring of cats. What about the horror of horrors that sends chills up my spine since I have heard this.. The story of walking along the woodland on the way home at dusk and hearing laughing coming out of the woods that just seems to be following you…(these scary boogers calling like screech and laughing owls can cause your hair to stand up) Yep, I could go on forever…I heard a lot of the haint tales and read a few…but when it happens to you it’s different. Your heart skips a few beats, until you try to rationalize what might be happening, but that does not always work so getting away from the thoughts, running to escape is your only way out…ha
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    lynn
    October 31, 2018 at 5:13 am

    that picture is precious…and dont you love old stories passed on? we see our grandparents as adults and can get a picture of them as youngsters having fun…lol i have lots of scarey memories as i had 4 older brothers who were jokesters..i loved it though..and humor was one trait i looked for in my husband…lifes too short to be serious all the time…
    have a happy halloween..sending love and big ladybug hugs
    lynn

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    October 30, 2018 at 10:23 pm

    I am really late catching up. Almost all of my Mother’s huge family left for other states to find jobs. Being Appalachian that never broke the bond at all. We call, we have reunions, and we are all still very close. Family is scattered all over the US, but we are very close to cousins and all. I left for a good while, but had to get myself back to my mountains.

    My Dad would never ever let folks scare us even though it once was common. They could expect to be corrected. I have no clue why he was so very against scaring small children but he was. I actually saw a ghost once, and I am still trying to figure that one out.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 30, 2018 at 9:43 pm

    We went to a prayer meeting one night up on Tellico Creek. I don’t remember whose house it was but they had a footlog across the creek right in front of the house. They had a bridge too but it was further on up the creek so I guess the footlog was a shortcut to the mailbox and the schoolbus and stuff. Anyhow it was an overcast fall evening. The grownups went on over to the house and the youngins were playing in the road on this side. We wandered off down the road out of sight of the house and played ’til it got too dark to, so we started back to the house. It had got so dark I couldn’t see where I was going. I was sorta guiding myself by walking in the smooth part of the gravel road we called the routes. If I got into the rocks I knew I had to move back the other way. Like feeling your way along with your feet.
    I decided I would sneak on ahead, hide and scare the rest as they came by. When I thought I was far enough I slipped off to the side of the road to hide in the weeds. Just as I reached the edge of the roadway something got ahold of me. I don’t to this day know who it was or what it was but that was the scaredest I ever was before or since. It didn’t growl, moan, groan or scream. It didn’t make a sound. I never heard or felt it leave. I was frozen in my tracks. I stopped breathing and I think my heart might have stopped. I couldn’t move for the longest. I just stood there in the weeds while all the others passed by. I couldn’t yell for help, I couldn’t even speak. I was still mortally terrified. I didn’t know what had grabbed me and if or when it left me. It was a good ten minutes before my legs loosened up enough to move. When they did they moved faster than I had ever run in my life.
    Still to this day I have never figured out how somebody could have scared me like that. They would have had to have known where I was planning on hiding and been waiting for me. But I didn’t have a particular place picked out. And they would had had to make some kind of noise if they had left me there. I didn’t even feel it turn me loose either.
    Maybe it didn’t!

  • Reply
    Tamela
    October 30, 2018 at 2:25 pm

    One night I was awakened from a sound sleep by a creeking in the hallway. I peeked out from under the covers to see the silhouette of a large strappin’ man in the doorway to our bedroom. I screamed. The silhouette lunged at me, yelling, “Mom, what’s wrong!” What a way to realize your teenager is high onto bein’ a man!

  • Reply
    Gigi
    October 30, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    Well Tipper, this is no scaring matter. I guess i was a about 17, i had went to bed and looked over and there stood my Uncle Burlie beside my bed. I thought he has came up here to pester me. Our house was a two story house. So i took my hand and reached out and said O Burlie. My hand went right threw his body. I pulled my hand back as fast as i could. Pulled the covers over my head. In a little while I looked and he was gone. The next morning his nephew went up and got him and came back off the hill. He took my uncle somewhere but they had a reck and it killed my Uncle Burlie. I will never forget that along other things happen like that. God Bless!

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    October 30, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    One of my brothers is very fond of scaring people. He got under Mama’s bed after they had been watching a horror movie and grabbed her ankles when she sat down to go to bed. My son is pretty good at it, too. He loved scaring Mama.

    My best friend and I were talking about how many of the older people liked to scare little kids. My grandpa would do what he called “milking the mouse”–bending our little fingers. It was so painful. Then he would usually give us a stick of Juicy Fruit gum. No wonder we are all slightly off.

  • Reply
    harry adams
    October 30, 2018 at 11:57 am

    i unknowingly scared my daughter when she was about 4 or 5. I was in my shop and was going to weld . when I put the shield over my face, she was terrified. I recently found out that a child under 5 does not know what is real or fictitious. This is a reason young children can be terrified about something that we would think harmless. Also why it is not a good idea to scare small children.

    30 years ago I left the south and moved north for my job. Although all our family was in SC, I have never regretted moving. At first I was back regularly, but as people have died off trips back are getting fewer.

  • Reply
    Jack
    October 30, 2018 at 11:53 am

    I agree with Dee that you and Granny have a strong resemblance. I had two uncles that went to Michigan and worked in the auto industry. I guess that was more common than I realized.

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    October 30, 2018 at 11:47 am

    Tipper what a grand story. I can relate to having brothers and my jolly dad pulling pranks to scare children. You would just have to been born here to really understand mountains ways. Grandfather Mintz was a self educated champ. I guess being Greman he wasn’t to keen on Mtn e died when I was Folks. I sure would have talked to him but he died when I was two. My grandfather Davis was a Godly man long deseased before I came into the picture Miss Julie said he could ring the bells of heaven with his prayers

  • Reply
    Brian P.T. Blake
    October 30, 2018 at 11:46 am

    Quick thinking!

  • Reply
    Dee
    October 30, 2018 at 9:58 am

    Beautiful picture, Tipper. I can see you look so much like Granny. Going up North in late 30’s and in the 40’s was really God’s blessing on so many families in the South. My daddy was the first in his family to go to Illinois to find a job. He was on his way to Michigan but changed his mind and I’m so thankful he did. On the farms down South, it was hard to find jobs as young men grew up and had families of their own. My mother, came from a family of 11 children, 7 girls and 4 boys. I have observed a lot of large families but I have never seen any as supportive and loving as my mother’s siblings. Everyone of them went North at one time or another and thank the good Lord, three of my mother’s sisters moved to the little town I grew up in so I had plenty of cousins to play with. Of course, we all went back South to our grandparents either in the summer or at Christmas and what a wonderful time we all had getting together. There is just a special love and respect for family no matter where they live or how long its been since you’ve seen them.

    I would have been running like Granny if I had heard a noise like that too!

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    October 30, 2018 at 9:39 am

    Tipper, that is such a funny story. I had an uncle who was just like Byers in loving to joke and play pranks all the time. I miss him so much. I remember when I was just a child my brother was sent to the basement to get something. As he came back to the house he passed by the kitchen window and put the flashlight under his chin and made a face at me. It scared me dreadfully at the time, but it didn’t have any lasting effect on me, as unfortunately I tried the same trick on my sister.

  • Reply
    Shirl
    October 30, 2018 at 9:13 am

    Byers sounds a lot like some of my relatives. Scaring us kids was so common that it didn’t take long for us to figure out when it was about to happen. My cousin loved to find a pair of old nylon hose to pull over his head and knock on our window as it was getting dark.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    October 30, 2018 at 8:28 am

    Our neighbor’s son Bill joined the Marines in about 1943 and somehow his wrist was broken and they sent him home on leave. His cast was big and white and went from his finger tips to near his elbow. Just as my Mother and I went up their porch steps Bill stuck his arm with the cast out the window to wave. When I saw that big ugly thing waving at us I thought it was a ghost and went running home. After finding out that ugly thing was attached to Bill I calmed down but he had to come to our house and prove it to me.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 30, 2018 at 8:26 am

    My Dad’s friend was like Byer’s. He’d find ways to turn everyday events into a practical joke. His brothers were as bad as he was.

    Going “up North” to work is such a common thing among Appalachian families. Branches of the family tree get broken off. Sad. I have cousins in Ohio I have not seen in nearly 20 years. But then I moved about 250 miles south myself.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 30, 2018 at 5:35 am

    I don’t quite understand why but people of that time seemed fond of scaring little children. My mother used to tell a story about being scared as a child by older uncle . It seems he wore a mask of some kind and stood outside looking in to the house through the window making noise and scaring the kids.
    It left such a memory with my mother that she was adamant about never allowing anyone to scare my sister and me. I heard the story many times.

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