Beware the spirits of Halloween

  • Friday, October 25, 2013

Something very interesting happened in Georgetown a week ago ... something I doubt you've heard about. A friend of mine, badly shaken, called me because of what she saw in her backyard.
She said that the night before, she was awakened by something in the middle of the night. She looked out of her window and saw a group of women and a young girl dressed in long, flowing, white dresses. They were smiling and seemed happy as they tied small white boxes to the limbs of the trees bordering the property.
Not believing her eyes, thinking that she must be dreaming, she walked to her kitchen window and looked out again on the yard. They were still there. She said that because of their demeanor, it seemed as if they were performing a religious or spiritual ceremony.
The City of Georgetown tree arborist had already been scheduled to inspect the oak tree in the backyard because it was showing signs of decay. He confirmed that the far-reaching limbs were rotten and subject to falling to the ground, possibly crushing someone. He also confirmed that part of the trunk of this protected 200-300 year old tree is hollow.
I went online and learned that from ancient times to present day, some tree worshipers (or their spirits), believe that oak trees are sacred. They tie white objects to the limbs during ritual ceremonies.
No, my friend is not crazy. She is an intelligent, no-nonsense kind of person who just happened to have her first experience with spirits here in Georgetown in the Historic District. Notice that I'm not identifying her. The fear of being thought crazy can be as strong as the fear of witnessing a ghostly event.
With Halloween approaching, I was reminded of the “ghosts and goblins” of my childhood. On Halloween night, we went out into the neighborhood dressed in simple costumes Mama made. One of our parents accompanied us and we went to houses of people we knew.
Things are so different now. Parents spend big bucks on costumes; load up the car with children, teenagers, and adults; then drive from one suburban neighborhood to the next.
The Georgetown County Digital Library is full of references to Halloween from days long past. Many Halloween parties were held at home and usually written up in the paper.
In 1930, Mr. and Mrs. G.A. LaBruce and Mr. and Mrs. J.L. LaBruce hosted a Halloween party at Exchange Plantation on the Pee Dee River. The guests enjoyed apple-bobbing, blind-fold games, and cutting the witches cake. A large bonfire burned under “magnificent oaks.” Oysters, weinies, and marshmallows were roasted.
In 1961, the beginner's class of the Junior Cotillion held a masquerade ball to celebrate Halloween at the Prince George Hotel. The four winners of the costume contest were: Donna Hawley (Chinese girl); Delma Hazzard (gypsy); Billy Thomas (Yankee soldier); and Joe Shaw (little girl).
On Halloween night in 1962, five hundred junior high and high school students were honored at the annual Youth Honor Dance, sponsored by the Moose Lodge and held at the National Guard Armory on Church Street.  Everyone who attended had to sign a pledge card agreeing to refrain from pranks usually played on Halloween night.
Guess what these teenagers did at the dance? They laughed and talked, consumed non-alcoholic beverages, and held three dance contests. The winners were: Linda Turner and Robert Schneider (Slow Dance); Nannie (Lainie?) Weaver and Jimmy Davidson (Twist Dance); Jane Shirer and Jody Tamsberg (Scratch Dance). The next time I see Jody, I'm going to ask him to demonstrate the “scratch dance.”
This is truly a trip down memory lane for me. I knew all of the kids involved. Also, the Moose Lodge is no longer, the National Guard Armory is no longer an armory, and the Prince George Hotel is no longer a hotel.
Have a safe and happy Halloween.

To the GCDL . . . thanks for the memories.

I may be reached at (843) 446-4777 or email at djsummey@gmail.com.

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