My grandfather passed away in 1984, and along with his passing were the tales he used to tell us. He was the greatest man I ever knew, but since he lived in Ohio and I lived in Alabama, our time together was not that often.
Where I grew up in Alabama there was a woods behind our house. Thick with trees and a small dark swamp, I often thought the woods was a spooky place when I was young. My grandfather told me tales of an old woman with stringy white hair and long sharp fingernails that he had encountered once. She was stooped over and if ever we encountered her, certain doom would befall us. If she screamed and we heard her cry, death was our destiny. Whether he had actually seen her or not, I don’t know, but I do know that if his goal was to keep us from venturing into the forest after sundown, it had worked.
This was certainly a frightening story for us as kids. He told other stories of the supernatural that he swore to be true. One such tale was about the time when he was a young boy. He was walking home before dusk when he saw his friend running down the dirt road, coming straight at him.He called out his friend’s name, but his friend ignored him, crossed between the barbwire fence and ran across the field to get home. He found out the next day that his friend had died (drowning, I think) not long before he saw him on the dirt road. Was this the spirit of his friend? Papaw believed so.
Years after his death I talked to one of his sisters. She mentioned that Grandpa used to capture wild dogs on their property when he was a teenager. She said that he’d chain the dog in the barn and feed and water it. Once she said that she had gone out to see the dog and its eyes were strange and glowed green. She said that Grandpa was the only one who could pet one of them without the dog biting or snarling at him. A few days after he fed and watered one of the dogs, he’d let it go.
As a child you never realize the importance of the tales your grandparents tell, until you’re older and it is often too late to ask them. I wish I could sit and listen to him tell those tales now. These stories early in my childhood are perhaps a big reason for my vivid imagination.