Friday, November 15, 2013

Decatur Ghost Tour

Guys, this is huge! The Girl had a birthday party and I didn't hate it! In fact, I really, really liked it! I've posted before about how kid birthday parties are not my favorite way to spend time. In fact, I'd rather coat myself in honey and sit on an anthill, but enough with my crazy hobbies. The Girl's 10th birthday is coming up and she was very specific with what she wanted, which was a small sleepover with only three friends. Even though the small size would be easier for me, I had some pangs that she didn't want to invite more girls because I hate for anyone to be left out. Also, I'm a total masochist.

The Girl and I had been concocting the big party activity since this summer when we had a chance meeting on the Decatur Square. We had just finished dinner with friends at Square Pub (really good food for a bar, plus a children's menu and board games), and were watching our children terrorize smaller children by the old Courthouse when a lady asked if we were there for the Decatur Ghost Tour. I was so intrigued! I live in a town with a ghost tour! Decatur is on the map! Of course, I decided I had to go, because my bucket list only includes activities within a five mile radius of home. Since I'm all about multitasking, I suggested/pushed the tour on the Girl as a birthday party activity. Thanks to Harry Potter, Wizards of Waverly Place, and the Haunted Hathaways, the kids are learning about paranormal activity earlier and earlier and I don't want her to get left behind.

Oh, my gosh, the Ouija board! When I was a kid, my next door neighbor brought her Ouija board over to my house and we sat in the dark and asked the board all kinds of bizarre questions: "Is disco really dead?" "Will Sonny and Cher get back together?" "Who shot J.R.?"

Last Saturday, the Girl's friends came over around 6, we ate some Mellow Mushroom pizza (good, but you have to drink a gallon of water because it's got more sodium than a salt lick) and bee-lined for the bandstand on the Square where we met up with our fellow ghost hunters and our tour guide, Boo. Yes, her name is Boo Newell and she is described as a "psychic medium/animal communicator." I wonder if she could shed light on why Dog is incessantly biting my ankles. My guess is that she's possessed by a demon, but I have a feeling it's just something that puppies do. So cute! (SMH, not cute AT ALL). Anyway, we had a group of about 15-20 people, including the four kiddos and me, and our first stop was the old Decatur Courthouse. From there, we hit the area outside Square Pub, the Presbyterian Church, the Library, the Rec Center, the Depot, a house on Barry Street, the Methodist Church, the Decatur Cemetery, and then High House. All along the way, Boo told us about the early days of Decatur and regaled us with the kind of historical stories that are actually interesting, so they'd never be taught in school. The tour lasted about 2.5 hours and involved a little more than a mile and a half of walking. Amazingly, it wasn't until the very end that the girls started getting tired and a little bored.

I won't go into detail about all the ghosts because you might want to actually go on the tour and I can't do Boo's stories justice. Do you all believe in ghosts? Ever since I realized that my neighbor was actually moving the Ouija communicator herself, I've been a pretty big skeptic of supernatural events. Nothing on this tour changed that skepticism, but it was still really fun and interesting. We were all encouraged to take lots and lots of pictures to see if we could capture any ghostly images or flashes of energy. I took two pictures that show...something, but given my prowess as a photographer, I'd wager that the ghostly images are just evidence of crappy picture-taking.

Because the girls were on the tour, Boo stopped in front of the Rec Center to tell us about Lucy and her older brother Herman, who lived in the early 20th century and are kid ghosts. They departed this life when Lucy darted into the street to chase after a kitten and Herman ran after to protect her and they both ended up trampled by a team of horses. Little sisters! According to Boo, Lucy and Herman love to meet other children and she always introduces them to children taking the tour. When I took the picture, Boo asked the girls to feel how much cooler the air was on her left. That was because Lucy and Herman were hanging out there. So, is that flash Lucy and Herman? I don't know. I'll tell you that everyone on the tour was super excited to see that picture, which they all took as definitive proof of a ghostly presence. My money's on bad photography and bad lighting, but I'm willing to play along.

By the time we got to the Cemetery it was pitch black, so Boo's assistant Donna had to hold a flashlight so we could see how Boo communicated with ghosts using a pair of divining rod-type instruments that she had fashioned out of coat hangers. She was chatting with a ghost on her left named Anne who had gone for a buggy ride with her idiot boyfriend who didn't actually know how to drive a buggy. We all know how this story ends, right? Poor Anne ended up getting dragged for miles with her dress caught on one of the buggy wheels. Guys, life in old Decatur kind of sucked.

One thing I've always wondered about ghosts is why some of the ones who died when they were really old, still come back as more youthful haints. Boo said that ghost will come back to a point in their lives that they want to change and they keep reliving the same time over and over again, hoping for a different result. This is somewhat poignant to me. Don't you know real-life people who regret so much something that happened in the past that they just can't get unstuck from that place? If only such-and-such hadn't happened, we'd all be happy. Some people spend so much time on regrets that for them to be doomed to be stuck in that place for all eternity seems totally possible.

The bottom line on the Decatur Ghost Tour is that it is very cool and worth checking out. I wouldn't recommend it for kids under ten because some of the descriptions of how the ghosts got to be dead in the first place are a little gruesome. There were also several mentions of prostitution that appeared to go over the heads of the Girl and her friends. One girl looked like she was going to ask me a question, but then got distracted trying to talk to the ghosts with coat hangers. The best result of going on the tour is that by the time we staggered home at 10, the Boy and the Baby were fast asleep, so even the sound of four crazy 10-year-old girls didn't wake them. The second best result is that the girls were actually fairly mellow when we got back. They stayed up late, but it wasn't too wild, probably because they were walking around in the cold for 2.5 hours.

So, what do you all think? Did I get pictures of ghosts or am I just a sucky photographer? Have you ever encountered a ghost? I feel like some of the most unlikely people have had run-ins with ghosts, including my mother and my in-laws. I'm still waiting...

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