Thursday, October 31, 2013

Haunted Lights Of The Great Swamp

The Great Swamp lies just west of the famous Christmas Place. Large parts have been turned to cropland and cut with roads now so that it is not the impenetrable swamp it once was but the remaining parts are dark and full of mystery.  Here, the Haunted Lights of the Great Swamp are still feared by the locals.
In 1885 the civil war was over and the people of the delta were still trying to rebuild their lives by farming. Small farmers ruled the day on small 50-100 acre farms and no one here had the ability or money to have the vast farms that had thrived before the War. Even so, a new bank for these small farmers was built in Tchula. Trade on the river was good and cotton prices were rising. It looked like the beginning of a new and better time for everyone, except that there is always someone willing to try to take what others have worked so hard to acquire.

Three men with fast horses had planned the robbery of the Citizens Bank of Tchula on a late fall Halloween day when a large amount of new money was in the bank to pay the farmers for their meager cotton crop. Entering the bank and filling their saddle bags with cash, the robbers fled south after a brief gunfight that left one bank guard dead and another wounded.  They crossed the South Bridge and the railroad headed towards Yazoo City. Just north of Thornton, they turned into the Great Swamp and headed for their little hideout and a boat on the Black River that would take them downriver under the cover of night, hopefully to disappear forever. The only problem with their plan was the rain.
At the turnoff, a storm hit that had sprang out of the West. Rain hammered down and at first it helped them by covering their tracks and keeping people off the roads, but it did not let up as they wound deeper and deeper into the dark swamp. By the time they reached their camp it was dark and the water in the river was quickly rising. Leaving their horses, they climbed aboard the john-boat, lit a lantern, and headed downstream toward the Yazoo River.
In an hour they were completely lost. The swiftly rising water pushed them into places away from the river and their lantern had been extinguished by the driving rain. All they could do was ride the currents and hope to find way out, then through the blinding rain they saw a light.
They could go no further and headed in that direction until they came to a high spot in the flooded bottom and pulled their boat ashore.  Carefully they moved toward the light and it disappeared. It reappeared moments later and they kept working toward it as it seemed to move just outside of their reach. Deeper and deeper they went with the siren sight of the flickering lights leading them. Their eyes began to glow, they lost all sight and sound, and still they blindly struggled and pulled themselves through the muddy swamp following the deceiving lights, totally lost and condemned to a hellish death.
The boat finally washed away and the money was lost to the great Swamp.  The search party found the horses but the three men were never seen alive again.  The rumor is told that on Rainy Halloween nights, and you are deep in the swamp coming out after hunting,  the rotting, skeletal corpses of the three men can be seen wandering the Great Swamp still following the ghostly haunted lights. Be careful that you don’t join them.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Night In The Attic

I had seen the old man watching from across the street during the time my brother, Paul, was moving in to the Old Water Valley Hospital that has been converted into a beautiful antebellum style home.
Paul and his wife, Wanda, could not have been happier and I figured like everyone else in town, that the old man was just enjoying watching new life being breathed into the town, but after a few months it seemed that he was there watching the house almost every time I drove by.
One slow afternoon I saw him, parked my car in the driveway and went over to talk to him. He was old, using a cane but seemed fit, but a haunted look was in his eye as he glanced at me and back to the house. I asked him how he was doing and we passed the time for a few minutes until I asked him why he kept showing up and watching the house. He went back to staring at the house for a few minutes and I thought he was not going to answer, but then in a low voice, he started to talk.

“Did you ever hear of the Vincent family that used to live there?” he asked, pointing with his cane at the big house. I told him “No”. He grunted and continued. “When I was a boy, my best friend Fletcher Vincent and his family moved into that house for a few months, that’s all it took, a few months.” He nodded a few times and said “the house looks like it did then and we were a couple of adventurous kids, so when he invited me over to stay the night, we thought it would be fun to sleep up in the attic.” I could feel gooseflesh on my arms as he continued, “We were 12, just 12 years old. Fletch and I played cards, talked about girls and what we wanted to do when we grew up and had a great time. We stayed up late until his Momma told us to turn out the lamp and get to sleep in the 2 cots up there. We did and talked some more until we drifted off to sleep.” The old man turned his head back and forth as if trying avoid a blow and in a raspy voice said  “ I woke up freezing , it was summer but I was so cold and it took me a second to realize all my covers were gone and it was deathly quiet and I was so scared I couldn’t move. Very little light came in the window but I could see someone was in the room with us, just a few feet away, crouching between the beds. I didn’t move, I was too scared to move. Just then I heard Fletcher move, heard him say “Mom?”, A horrible voice went “Ah! And there was a rushing sound and then  a terrible scream. I jumped for the stairs and fell down them, hitting the door and rolling out on the second floor screaming for help.”
Mr. Vincent was there in seconds, I pointed and yelled that someone was up there, and we rushed up the stairs with Mr. Vincent holding a lantern high over his head and holding a big horse pistol ahead of him. Upstairs he was yelling Fletch’s name, but there was no answer,the attic was empty. Mr. Vincent tore the room apart, looked under the beds, in every part of the attic but no one was there. I grabbed his arm and pointed to the bed. In the center where Fletcher had been lying was a huge pool of blood soaking the sheets. It was an awful night and I never saw him again.” I could see tears in his eyes as he finished. “The police, the Sheriff, all the neighbors searched the town, the woods, the whole county and never found anything. The Vincent’s left not long afterwards, they never found him, and they never found a clue as to what happened.” I stared at the grief stricken man until he said, “You tell your brother not to let anyone go up there, he would be better off nailing the stairway shut, but whatever he does tell him to never let anyone sleep up in the attic again.”

Monday, October 21, 2013

Rebels Defeat Swamp People

The smell of corndogs hung heavy over Vaught-Hemingway Stadium as the LSU team left the prison buses and marched onto the field Saturday night. Their fans were confidant, cocky and obnoxious as usual, dressed in their gaudy gold and purple or prison-stripe jumpsuits holding a 'possum by the tail and swinging it over their heads, and of course eating corndogs. They never expected a wounded and depleted Rebel team would give them a game much less beat their sorry ass.
The Rebels fought and clawed their way to one of the best victories I have ever seen, kicking a field goal to win as the clock ran out, It was a dagger to the heart of those swamp people who abandoned the stadium like rats leaving a sinking ship and slinking back to the swamps to lick their wounds.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Squirrel Camp Results

When the squirrel assault began against the overwhelmed hunters at the famous Christmas Place, they managed to form a firing line as the evil squirrels raced from limb to limb above their heads dropping huge acorns and pecans and wounding many in the group. But they held and managed to kill 100 or maybe 1,000,000 (I get confused) of the sharp toothed rodents. After the victory, the hunters returned to camp to drink whiskey, listen to ball games, relax and clean their weapons.
Hell, even Jones managed to blast one or two. A great weekend and the squirrel and dumplings was delicious.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Moon Doggy

Halloween is one of the best times to be a the famous Christmas Place. The weather is pleasant and usually cool at night. We don't get the chance to be there very often but
when we do it is always a special time once the sun goes down. We always have a big fire outside and it is a time for ghost stories to be told and for old legends of the area
to be repeated. One of the scariest is the story of the Moon Doggy.
On a full moon sometimes you can hear a wild and terrifying howl that echoes through the woods and sweeps down through the valleys. A terrifying sound that seems to freeze the

blood. Locals know the horrifying cry and say it is the Moon Dog or Moon Doggy. A terrible wolf like creature that prowls the night and can run on 4 legs but can stand like a
man when it wants. It keeps to the darkness and shadows and has been known to kill all kinds of animals from cattle to deer to dogs and even unwary humans.
Tales of people who have seen the beast are passed on and the legend grows, and mommas always tell their children to be careful in the woods or the Moon Doggy might get them.

No one within 20 miles of our land would dare go in the woods at night without a light and a gun and it has been a good story to tell around the campfire and scare our guest
and kids, but recently we have found slaughtered wild hogs that have been ripped apart by some ferocious animal of immense strength. There was talk of maybe a mountain lion but
the old timers that hunt these hills say it is the Moon Dog and a new cycle of terror is coming. The last reported sighting has been almost 10 years ago when the moon was in a
cycle very close to Earth. It seems the few sightings and bloody killings only coincide with the closest and biggest full moons like the one that is coming this year.
So if you come down this year keep your eyes open and don't wander off alone, especially without a gun or the Moon Dog might get you.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Squirrel Camp This weekend

The annual Tree Rat Eradication Program starts this weekend at the famous Christmas Place. Dad has already scoped out his spot on the edge of the North Cornfield where a gigantic pecan tree is just dripping with ripe pecans. I imagine he will have the limit by 8 AM. and then squirrel and dumplings Saturday night for everyone. Should be a fun hunt this year as the damn squirrels are about to take over the place. PS- Everyone one needs to bring a few buckshot or slugs for their shotgun in case a wild hog wanders by.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Ghost Tales

It is October and I am busy trying to put together more of the weird and terrifying TRUE stories from the famous Christmas Place, Water Valley and other parts of Mississippi.
A Night in the Attic- about Paul's haunted house here in Water Valley.
Death in the Great Swamp- what happened to a trio of bank robbers here 60 years ago?
The Boogey-Man of the Bluffs- a werewolf prowls the edge of the delta on the full moon.
these and other stories are being put together to chill you for Halloween.

Monday, October 07, 2013

The Young Howell's Choose ATO

Oxford, MS- Over the weekend young Spencer Howell and Michael Howell chose ATO fraternity at Ole Miss to begin another chapter in their lives. We are very proud of them joining their cousin, Brock, at our fraternity and wish them well. Congratulations.
Here is a pic of the two young men enjoying their moment together as new pledges at ATO.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Happy 87th Birthday Dad

I was hoping to surprise Dad this morning on his 87th birthday, but he was already up and gone to camp. His idea of celebrating is driving a tractor, fishing, hunting or just prowling the woods until 4 o'clock in the afternoon when it is time for a relaxing drink and to talk about the day.
He has lost his hearing but not his drive and he is always on the move. The famous Christmas Place is his dream and he is living every moment of it. How many men his age can do half of what he does? Hell, I hope I can just live that long. Congratulations to one spunky, tough 87 year old!