Ghosts & Haunted Places
graves, black cats, Halloween, Friday the 13th ...
Never slam a door.
You might hurt a ghost, who'll haunt you for the rest of your life.
Halloween just around the corner, this may be a good time to remind
ourselves that early East Texans had a healthy regard for ghosts,
strange lights and things that go bump in the night.
This regard led farm families, as well as some city dwellers, to develop
what they felt were remedies for supernatural ills. Some of them offered
protection from ghosts:
- Carry a lump
of bread in your pocket when walking in the dark. It will serve
as an offering to ghosts.
- If you see
a ghost, walk around it nine times, and it will disappear.
- If you can't
walk around the spook nine times, crow like a rooster. The theory
is that ghosts don't wear watches and they'll flee if they think
daylight is coming.
- When passing
a graveyard or a house where someone has died, turn your pockets
inside out to make sure you you don't bring home ghost in your
- Never slam
a door. You might hurt a ghost, who'll haunt you for the rest
of your life.
you're convinced that witches exist on Halloween, here are
- If a witch
somehow infects you with a spell, drink water from a running creek,
using a cup made of cypress wood, for nine days straight.
- Bury a knife
under your doorstep to protect your home from witches, who supposedly
cannot pass over cold iron.
- Witches also
hate brass. To prevent a witch from making your milk cow go dry,
make a bell out of brass and hang it around the cowıs neck.
- Put a witch's
nail or hair clippings in a small glass bottle. Burying the bottle
will break a witch's spell. Hanging the bottle in the fireplace
will keep witches from flying into the room. And placing the bottle
in a fire will kill the witch.
Texans have always been a little uneasy about graves,
and have developed a number of appropriate superstitions, such as
- Don't point
at a grave or your finger will rot off.
- Don't count
the number of cars in a funeral procession or youıll have bad
- Always pick
a rainy day for a funeral so the deceased will go directly to
wouldn't be half the fun without black cats, but you should
handle them with care, as indicated by these admonitions.
- Deadly diseases
can be given to a child by a black cat sucking its breath.
- If a baby
plays with a black cat, it will have worms. Every cat hair it
swallows will become a worm.
- Kill a black
cat on Halloween and you'll have seven years of bad luck.
- If a black
cat meows on your porch or near a window, a death will soon occur
in the family.
Halloween is over, you can relax - that is, until Friday
the 13th, which arrives in February. Then, you can worry about
a new set of superstitions.
Okay, now you're
ready for Halloween - and Friday the 13th. Don't blame me if your
finger rots off.
- If you leave
your calendar turned to Friday the 13th, a witch will claim you
on the 14th.
- Donıt consult
the stars on Friday the 13th.
- Never start
a new business on Friday the 13th.
- On Friday
the 13th, to sleep without bad luck, fold the pantyhose or stockings
of a woman across the foot of the bed with a straight pen inside
one of the folds.
> October 26 , 2003 column
A syndicated column in over 70 East Texas newspapers
Published with permission
Bob Bowman is the author of 40 books on East Texas history and folklore,
and a past president of the East Texas Historical Association