The first ghost I ever saw was, I found out later, my dad, hiding under a sheet, behind a bush, and making scary noises.
I was five, my brother Buddy, four, and my sister Emily, three. Desperately clutching their hands, I was leading them, actually dragging them, on a fearful short walk in the dark to the family car to retrieve something left there.
We responded, of course, with shrieks and tears, flying directly back to the safety of the front porch, at which time the ghost unmasked himself.
Though assured by our dad it was only a trick, I was nevertheless convinced for all time of the existence of ghosts.
Some years later, my dad acquired some land down what is now Morgan Road in Starrsville. Then it was only a rough dirt track with no name, but it ran by property once owned by several generations of his family. The tract came with a life-tenancy resident we knew as Aunt Mitt, then in her 90s but sharp as a tack. She lived in an unpainted farmhouse with no electricity, and her last name was Morgan. She kept a garden year round and grew just enough cotton every year, hoed by hand, to gin one bale, giving her enough money for the year. She actually carried around a hefty sum of money tucked into her undergarments under several layers of clothes, long shirts and aprons to the ground, according to Walt Savage, who still lives nearby. He knows because she asked him to count it for her once.
Aunt Mitt claimed personal knowledge of the existence of "haints," as she called them, in her little part of the world. Indian spirits, she maintained, still hovered nearby on a wooded ridge that was the site of a long-gone Native American village and Indian mounds just beyond it. (Arrowheads and stone tools found by current area homeowners substantiate the claim.) And get this: Every night close to midnight, Aunt Mitt would see a ghostly black carriage carrying a man and a woman rolling along that dirt road near her house. There was, in fact, a cemetery in the woods at the end of the road.
She took no chances those "haints" would get near her. For one thing, she carried a pair of twin pearl-handled pistols in her apron pockets and wasn’t shy about using them if unwanted visitors showed up, alive or dead. She hung tin and aluminum pie plates along with other shiny objects on every bush and tree in her meticulously swept yard and painted her door frames and window openings a bright sky blue color, both practices believed to ward off the evil spirits. What a sight! The only thing she couldn’t protect herself from was a house fire that burned her out some years after my dad sold the property.
Now remember my brother Buddy? Many years later, he would buy property just the other side of that Indian ridge and build a home, ignoring the legacy of haints in the neighborhood. My brother is a strong, quiet and sober man, whose lips have never touched alcohol and who’s never indulged in anything mind-altering (except for Fox News). He’s going to kill me for telling this, but if he says it, I believe it’s true: There came one night when his sweet wife had gone on to bed before he finished with all the papers and the late night news. Close to midnight, he turned off the lights and made his way down the well-worn hall to the bedroom. Suddenly to his right, a woman appeared, and thinking it was his wife, he reached out to touch her, but his hand went right through her!
That hall got a few steps shorter, believe me, and the bedroom door slammed shut tightly behind him.
One of Aunt Mitt’s "haints"?
I don’t doubt it. Happy Halloween!
Barbara Morgan is a resident of Covington with a background in newspaper journalism, state government and politics. Her column appears on Fridays.