Legends and Halloween

I stepped out earlier and felt the crispness in the air.  The humidity had vanished and all that remained was the singing of the fall.  The leaves are changing colors all around me.  I see the formation of winter creeping up all while embellishing the days just before Halloween.  This is one of my favorite times of the year.  The reason?  Because if you believe in folklore and legends, then there is a sense that the portals of the living and the dead are united for a brief window.  If nothing else, the spirit of their legacies lives on even when we can’t see them. 

I used to be fascinated with the stories of witches.  I think it had to do with the Wizard of Oz movies.  As a kid, I would watch that movie with keen interest.  I loathed the wicked witch and thought Glenda the good witch was beautiful.  Little did I know the impact those stories would have on my life. My grandfather would tell me tales of Indian folklore when I was a kid. My father told me that I was of Indian descent but not enough to be credited with it.

As I got older I heard stories about werewolves and vampires. I thought it was really cool the way that those stories all came together. Dracula scared and impressed me all at the same time. After all, the ability to control what people thought and what they did was interesting. I couldn’t wait to read more of the stories that I was told. Some of them make for great ghost stories and campfire readings. Others made me curious as to the legends themselves. One thing remained true and that was my curiosity in regards to Halloween. Why was this holiday so unique? Could the dead really come back to life? What kind of power did the spirits possess? Is there an alternate dimension that once we cross over, which allows us to leave our soul behind? If you believe in heaven and hell with nothing in between, there is the question of why do some souls of good people seem to be left behind while others cross over to where we think they belong? As time went on, I became interested in stories of spirits with unfinished business like the ghost of Lydia in Jamestown, NC. That’s a well-known legend in these parts. At least in the Piedmont Triad. This explanation of Lydia comes from NCPedia. Here is the website that I took the information directly from https://www.ncpedia.org/lydia-ghost-jamestown-bridge

“.North Carolina has its share of ghost tales, unexplained phenomena, and tales of the supernatural. One such tale comes from Jamestown, in Guilford County. It is said that the spirit of a young woman haunts the underpasses of two bridges: one is a railroad bridge over E. Main Street, currently in use, and the other is of an abandoned bridge nearby. The abandoned underpass may be the site of a fatal car accident many years before.”

“The spirit, known as “Lydia”, has been seen on rainy and foggy nights as she walks alone or stands beside the road searching for help to get back home. The legend of Lydia is based on sightings and stories, over the past seventy or more years, of a young woman in white as she stands by the road, attempting to flag down passing motorists for help. The ghost is believed to be that of a young woman who died tragically at the bridge many, many years ago. The stories that have grown around the alleged sightings share a common detail of a fatal car accident that occurred as a boy and girl drove to dance, perhaps the prom, on a rainy night. And since that accident, the spirit of the girl, wearing her formal dress, returns to the scene seeking help.”

“Local lore tells of the first sighting of Lydia around 1924. North Carolina folklorist Nancy Roberts included the account of an eerie sighting of a woman near the bridge in her 1959 An Illustrated Guide to Ghosts & Mysterious Occurrences in the Old North State. As collected from a man named Burke Hardison, he told of his encounter with a young woman as he traveled home to High Point on a rainy and foggy night when he was a student at NC State University thirty years earlier in 1924. Back then the bridge was over Highway 70 nearby, and although since abandoned, it is within view of the present-day railroad bridge over Main Street. Hardison claimed to see a girl dressed in a white gown. She signaled for him to stop and asked him to help her get to High Point. He drove her home, and when he went to get out of the car, she had vanished into thin air. He knocked on the door of the house, asked if the girl was there, only to learn from her mother that she had been killed in a car accident at a nearby overpass the year before.”

Lydia’s story is one of many that have intrigued me over the years. There are questions I couldn’t wait to get answers to. I started researching several of the legends that were of interest to me. As I got older I found the legends in the state history were of a big, curious nature for me. There’s something about learning about the state history that I found appealing. When I was married at the time my husband enjoyed folklore. He would obtain several books on North Carolina legends. We would both discuss some of our favorite towns and the ghosts which dwelled among them. In the last few years, there have been new developments in the case of Lydia. It’s believed that her story has been solved. Instead of being named Lydia, it is believed to be the spirit of Annie Jackson who died in an automobile accident in 1920.

I have had people tell me that my home is haunted. I couldn’t say if it is Or not. What I can tell you is that there has been many occurrences that have made me question if it is or not. If my house is haunted by my ancestors I’m not afraid. I tend to feel at peace. The people who have told me that it was haunted have mostly gotten a warm welcoming feeling from the spirits that seem to dwell there. That is, of course, unless you are my ex-husband who once said “I wonder what would happen if I pushed you down these stairs?” Only to have been pushed himself with nothing behind him. He almost took a tumble and found himself shaken from the experience. I don’t think my ancestors took too kindly to his statement.

People have told me animals can sense ghosts in spirits more than we can. I tend to believe this as well. My cat acts like there is something that she can see when my mom and I can’t. She doesn’t appear to be threatened. But she is acutely aware that something is not right. Sometimes I envy her ability to see things that aren’t visible to me. I’ve often wondered if she’s seeing other humans or animals that have since passed. Perhaps both.

I have felt strange things though in the house. For example, I have had times where there was a warmth that I couldn’t explain. I’ve smelt aromas that should not have been present because nothing was cooked, yet the vivid scent of fresh apples being cooked for an apple pie was distinct. I’ve felt hands comforting me when I was balling my eyes and heart out. There were also cool spots in the house that should not have been cold. I tend to have very vivid dreams. Many times I see the past in my dreams. I’ve had conversations with people I did not know in those dreams. And I’ve even learned a lot of history from those in the past. My dreams provide me with many stories, some that may or may not be accurate but they keep my interest.

As Halloween draws closer I have one wish for all of you. I hope you’re able to convey the stories that you wish to tell. I hope the characters you draw in your mind come to life in a good way. We all have active imaginations. Study the folklore and legends that you wish to know more about. Halloween is a magical time. The virus has changed much about our lives. Don’t let the spirit of Halloween be squelched because of the virus. Be smart and safe in how you take part in Halloween activities. Enjoy the pumpkins and the stories that you hear. Don’t take everything literally. Halloween is about allowing things we aren’t comfortable with to make us question the unknonw. When we close off to all the possibilities in this world, we close off opportunities to expand our imaginations. Imagination wasn’t meant to be boxed in. Who knows? You might be able to make things fly in ways you never imagined.

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