Saturday, October 26, 2013

Ghost? Story?

 Living on the coast during autumn, thoughts of Halloween are often preempted by surf fishing…Walks on the beach during the Monarch migration… Enjoying the last of the soft weather without the vacation crowds…

But eventually the days grow shorter, the wind off the ocean stronger, and the mist deepens into fog. It creeps inland and settles in low lying woodlands.  
There comes a night when the clouds form an eerie marine layer, a grey backdrop for charcoal etched branches, and the occasional glimpse of the hunter’s moon does little to dispel the heavy atmosphere.

  Sometimes on a night like this, with the hint of wood smoke in the air and the scrape of dry leaves dancing across pavement I am transported back to the mid1970's and ghost hunting the J.D.’s
Here in New Jersey we have a resident monster, the Jersey Devil.   During my teen years it was customary for a group of kids to pile into a car as soon as someone had a license and permission to borrow their Mom’s Vista Cruiser and go search for him. 

 Any patch of woods with trails would do. Considering we lived on the edge of the Pinelands, one of the largest wooded areas in the country it wasn’t as hard to find a stretch of spooky woods complete with winding trails as one might think.

 Heck, we didn’t have to leave town. We had a patch of woods crisscrossed with trails that were known as the J.D. 's - the Jersey Devil's.

Now, we knew the ‘real’ Jersey Devil was a tale based on the sorry life of a poor soul who lived much farther south during a time when the physically, mentally, and emotionally challenged were feared and reviled.   
That did not stop us from searching for the Jersey Devil of folk lore, a giant creature with wings and hooves, among the sugar sand trails in the patch of woods commonly referred to as ‘the J.D.’s.  We also looked for ghosts. Sort of a paranormal two for one experience. What can I say?  Our entertainment options were limited.

Most of these adventure took place  during that narrow period of teenager hood when we were allowed out after dark, but before someone expressed the thought. ”Hey, let’s get some beer!”

What Mom let out the front door.

What I may or may not have changed into at  a friends.

I am willing to admit now that the closest we ever came to seeing the Jersey Devil was my Dad when I missed curfew.

The creepiest, spookiest time we ever had occurred while driving home from a ‘J.D. hunt’ that took me and my  friends farther afield than usual.  The fog had increased to white out conditions. Sound was muted. We rolled slowly down the winding back roads, radio off. Bobby white knuckled the steering wheel. Fanny rode shotgun. Those of us crammed in the back were hanging over the bench seat, eyes glued to the windshield. A few inches to the left and we would stray into the wrong lane, a few to right and we might end up in a roadside ditch. 

Life took a Scooby-Doo-ish  turn.

 No one said so at the time but  we were all thinking about  a rickety old wooden bridge we had to cross to get home.  The bridge was constructed of wooden planks, had a low  side rail, and was only wide enough for one car to cross at a time. The closer we got to it the more rickety it became in our memory.  The car crept along at fifteen miles an hour, then ten as the fog crept up the hood and over the windshield. Gravel crunching under the tires the only sound as we strained forward, no longer so interested in finding devils and ghosts.  When we reached the bridge one of the boys got out, crossed the bridge on foot and came back. “Don’t see or hear anything coming.”   We rolled across the bridge, relieved when we were safely over and a few minutes later the fog began to thin and soon we were catching glimpses of trees and the road ahead.  
Yikes gang! 
We  leaned back, beginning to relax. Fanny  turned the radio on but found only static. Just then the road curved sharply enough to warrant the metal guard rail that edged it.   As it straightened the headlights illuminated a tall man with wild hair  dressed in dark clothes standing at the side of the road.  Even now the moment snaps into  focus; the low crackle of static, the swirl of fog, the eerie hulk standing at the side of the road. Then he was gone.
The moment stretched as we passed the spot  where we saw the man . Fanny snapped off the radio as Bobby slowed the car to a stop. “Did you guys see him too?"
 We all nodded.

“Creepy,” Fanny shivered. Bobby‘s fingers drummed on the steering wheel. His eyes darted to the rear view mirror. “We should go back. See if he needs help. His car might be stuck.” He  executed a quick K turn.  The fog continued to lift and we covered the short distance from where we stopped back to the curve in the road then back almost to the bridge and back again with no sign of the man. “Hello,” Bobby called from the open car window. “Hello? Do you need help?”  
“Are we in the right spot?” Franklin asked.’ Are you sure?”
 “Yes,” Fanny insisted. “Look, there’s the end of guardrail  after the curve in the road. He was right past that! Hey, see pine tree?"
"We see a million pine trees. This is the Pine Barrens," Franklin scoffed.
"The one closer to the road, sort of by it's self that looks like it was shear off. That's about where he was. He must have been standing right in front of it.” 
At some time in the past the top of the tree had been snapped off. What was left was about six foot tall, and crowned with a shaggy bird's nest of pine needles.  Near the top a dark oval opening must have provided shelter to squirrels or birds. A couple broken limbs still dangled from its' sides. Seen on a foggy night it would easily be mistaken for a roving manic, axe murderer, or a tall man.
No footprints marred the soft sugar sand around its base. 
Bobby was standing back close to the car, keys in hand, ready for a quick get-away should the need arise. Suddenly a sheepish grin lit his face. He opened his mouth to say something, then closed it as Fanny clung to his arm. "This is creepy, let's get out of here." 
One of the other girls in the group took hold of his other arm. "Yeah,  this is too weird. Let's go."

 Damp night seeped through our plaid flannel shirts denim jackets and pea coats. Shivering we  checked the area once more  before piling back into the car and heading home.  It was a long time before any of us felt the urge to go ghost hunting.


* * *  
Please join me at these wonderful parties

Inspired Sunday @ Sunday View

Don't miss
Sightseeing with the Rococo Roamer in Pompeii

Tea time Tuesday @ Rose Chintz Cottage 

Don't Miss
Debbie's Harvest Tea

 Teacup Tuesday @ Artful Affirmations
  Don't miss
Veronica Roth - If the Mountain won't come to Mohamed... for tea

What's It Wednesday@ Ivy's and Elephants
Don't miss
making a Pet Ghost with PennyWise

Share Your Cup Thursday @ Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olsen 

Don't miss
 Dawn's  Silver Bat Centerpiece  @ WeCallItJunkin'

Don't miss
 the Pumpkin Festival with Pam of House of Hawthornes 
Cottage Style Party @ Lavender Garden Cottage
Lavender Garden

Don't miss
 learning to make a mummy from a can with Noreen!

Don't miss
Pumpkin Tea at Betty's Cozy Corner!


  1. Loved your ghost story. Don't we all have one of those, "But you saw it, too, right?" experiences. Great ghost memories!
    Thanks for the party shout out!

  2. Ghost stories always had me so intense. Always wanting to listen, but ever so frightened. lol! We use to hike up our local canyon after work as a teenager. Spooky fun for sure! Sounds like you had a 'devil' of a fun time. The comment about your dad was too funny!

  3. what a fun post and great memories. happy pink saturday! xo

  4. What a great story and it's still a vivid memory for you. Did you tell your parents what you saw? I love all the pictures--the moon view is beautiful and spooky.

  5. LOL your dad when you missed curfew...too funny !! loved the post! :)

  6. Hi lovely lady.
    I m new on your lovely blog, looks like you have a lot of spooky memories. I would like to thank you for your sweet comments on my Tablescape for Halloween. I m your newest follower on your blog now. Hoping you have a wonderful week with your family.

  7. What a great Halloween post! Love your brush with the supernatural- I grew up in pennsylvania and we always were eagerly on the lookout for the Jersey Devil when we drove to see relatives in NJ


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