The Good Old Days: Halloween ghost stories

Back in the day without TV or the Internet, it was about talking, sharing and during the days of Halloween or camping outdoors, telling the best ghost stories. It was standing in front of a dark mirror with a candle at slumber parties….chanting I believe in Mary Worth. This ritual serves to summon the vengeful witch, Mary Worth. According to sources, Mary actually lived in Chicago on the old Wagon Road during the Civil War and it is said that she had kidnapped runaway slaves and chained them in her barn. Legend has it that she was burned at the stake. Some called her Bloody Mary and we summoned her many times at Halloween parties, but I never saw her.

Another famous story that can actually be documented over 200 years ago, is the Man with the Golden Arm. The Golden Arm is a folktale, a story appearing in multiple cultures but most most famously told by Mark Twain. The tale begins with a death or a recently deceased victim who has an artificial limb, usually an arm, made of gold. The victim has their limb stolen after their death, most often by a loved one or trusted one in greed. Then the victim comes back from the grave looking to get their golden limb back and scares the robber into giving back their arm. Where’s my golden arm????

My kids didn’t sit down and tell ghost stories unless they were camping out and they were bored. I got them with the golden arm story, though, and chased them around the house. Many learned telling stories during the series where a group of kids who gathered in the woods told ghost stories. This was performed on the 1990 – 1996 U.S. TV series “Are You Afraid of the Dark.” The series was a spooky anthology where a group of kids recounted ghost stories. I made a huge mistake back in the early 1990’s allowing my daughter to stay up with me to watch the original movie Night of the Living Dead. At that time, I was a sucker for the best horror stories in books and movies. She did have nightmares and still reminds me of this today.

According to child psychologists, it is ok for kids to be scared…..just a little. The following stories are some great examples to share.

The Lady with Emerald Ring actually is a story written in the late 1700’s and the woman dies but comes back to life.

The Scarecrow: A wonderful story about a young boy creating his own creepy scarecrow. Every year, his Dad puts out scarecrows in their fields because he thinks they’re effective in not only keeping the crows out, but evil spirits as well.  His Scarecrow changes during a storm.

Haunted is a great story about a ghosts who love to bake. Everyone in a small town in Arkansas knows this house is haunted. It was an old neglected house and sometimes would smell of bakery goods even though no one lived there. Sometimes they would hear the ghosts singing and dancing.

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