Monday, March 20, 2006

GHOSTS! Personal Accounts of Modern Mississippi Hauntings, by Sylvia Booth Hubbard

By Christina VanGinkel

This is one of those books that you know the majority of people who pass it on a shelf, will roll their eyes at, yet many of those same people pick it up, browse through it, and before you know it; they are headed to the checkout counter with it. That is exactly how I came to own my copy. I was on vacation and browsing a bookshelf at a small bookstore looking for something to pass the time with while being a passenger in the car. This ended up being the perfect choice and it more than kept my attention for many a mile!

The book is a compilation of ghost and otherworldly stories that all happen to take place in the good old southern state of Mississippi. The book itself starts out with a story from the authors own personal experience. She and her husband had purchased a house in 1975 in the outer lying part of the town of Hattiesburg, where the zoning of the town itself would not affect them, as they wanted to combine both their living quarters and their business in one building. Before they even moved in, they knew there was something strange with the house, such as footsteps with no one there, and a room that was always cold, even in the heat of summer. As their family grew, even their children noticed things, and then their daughter even provided them with a name for the one ghost that they all thought of as the 'main' ghost of the house. Customers to their business also backed up their wonderings about the ghostly goings on through the years, and at the time of the writing of the book, the author, and her family were still living in the house, coexisting with the ghost. They had all mutually agreed that if the ghosts did not bother them, they would not bother the ghosts, and so life for the author and her family and the ghosts just merrily coexisted.

In part, from this personal experience, the author decided to delve into the many other legends of ghosts and hauntings that she had heard of throughout the Mississippi area, and she ended up with plenty to fill a whole book. There is the story of Miss Elizabeth, an unmarried woman who lived out her life in the family home, and was known to be a bit odd even before she passed on in her family's house in Temple Heights. In addition, the story of Amberly's roommate, which relates the tale of a single mother forced by a flood to take up residence in a house in Pearl. When she thinks someone, or something is coming down the hall, she is frightened, but not nearly as much as when she thinks whatever it is she saw is headed towards her daughter's room. You will have to read the book to learn just what happened and how she dealt with the apparition.

There are stories about record players that play even when unplugged, and of vacation homes that are home to more of a permanent type of resident than just those people showing up for some occasional fun and relaxation. One story that totally intrigued me was of an abandoned mansion in the woods surrounding West Point. When a couple hears of the house that has stood empty for some fifty years, they decide, quite unexpectedly, that it is the perfect restoration in waiting that they have been searching for. They move their family into the home, and other than noises, they thought all was fine. Then, several years into living in the house, they discovered that someone was already there, or so it seemed. Was somebody sleeping in one of the beds, and what would happen if they actually tried to discover whom or what it was? What was there, why did it wait so long to make its presence known, or did it, are all questions that can only be answered if you read the book. Besides these tales, there are many more, for a total of twenty-five must read tales, along with twenty-seven black and white photographs of many of the actual residences, both inside and out.

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