Are They Ghosts? Angels? Stories From Local Folks Confirm Spirits Are Here About
Halloween is a time for ghost stories.
And angel stories.
They are in volumes in local libraries, although librarians do say that even the books will sometimes do a disappearing act.
Gloria Shull, who works at Universal Credit on Main Street in Forest City prefers to call them angel stories and adds, "God uses everything for his purposes so we don't need to worry about it."
Shull's father died Christmas Eve 1983 and recalls that George Clay, the family's funeral director, said it was the coldest such time he could remember.
A decision was made not to have a graveside service, but Shull was determined to go with her father to the cemetery. "There was no way I was leaving my daddy at the church."
Later she asked her brother why he had stood behind her, patting her on the back and telling her, "Everything's okay, Sis," assuring her that she need not go to the cemetery. Her brother said he had not been in the room with her when that happened and added, "Our daddy is the only person who ever called you Sis."
Later she heard her four-year-old daughter say she had seen Papaw, her grandfather. Shull remembers her standing up in bed and "talking away," to an unseen presence at the end of the bed. He was telling her he was okay.
Sharon Shell was visiting the Mooneyham Library in Forest City when she recalled hearing the footsteps of a recently deceased coworker, David Hogan.
Both were employees of the Town of Forest City.
"I know exactly what his footsteps sounded like and I know I was alone in the town offices after he died when I heard his footsteps," Ms. Shell insisted.
Well, there you go.
Ghost and angel stories go as far back as any recorded human history and they come from every culture. So do angel stories.
As positive as Shull's experiences were, Bostic's Richard Hollenbeck was not so lucky. He shared his experience with a friend.
"We were both standing there and we both saw it. It was a grandma and the family dog in a van outside the house. Both had died recently," he said.
The experience lasted about two minutes.
"It was the scariest thing that ever happened to me in my life," Hollenbeck said.
"I've had friends who claim ghosts have knocked the controllers out of their hands while they were playing video games, but I've never seen that," he added.
A young woman on Main Street, Forest City asked to remain anonymous after telling her ghost story from Rochester, NY.
"My grandmother passed me in an upstairs hallway. I followed her into a bedroom and she wasn't there. I called out for her and she answered from downstairs in the kitchen. I went downstairs and asked her how she had gotten changed so quickly. I had seen her earlier wearing a blue dress upstairs. She told me she had been downstairs in the kitchen since six o'clock in the morning. She told me I had seen my great grandmother who had been dead for many years. You can still hear her coughing in that house late at night."
A Native American woman in Spartanburg told of her experience with her deceased father.
"We Native Americans know the dead will come to us. They always do. I told my father as he was dying not to appear to me, but that it would be okay if I experienced his scent. My son and I were driving the Interstate and suddenly I could smell my father. My son was sitting in the backseat and I asked him if his grandfather was here. He said he was sitting next to me up in the front seat. I asked my son what he wants. He told me that his grandfather wanted me to check my tires. I pulled off the Interstate and asked a guy at a tire store to check my tires. He walked around and said he didn't see any problem. I asked him to be sure. When he put his hand behind one of my front tires, there was a huge bulge. He told me I was minutes from having a blowout and said if it had happened with front wheel drive on the Interstate, my car would have flipped, likely killing me and my son."
In 1998 Henrietta's Diane Beard died of cancer. Her funeral was held at her family's church in Atlanta. Phil and Gaye Johnson from Green Creek rode down to sing Van Morrison's Tupelo Honey at the funeral. Among the mourners was a man who did not know Diane and had never seen her.
After the funeral was over several friends and family gathered at a nearby home.
"She was there," the man who had never met her told the gathering. "She showed up at her own funeral. While those two people were singing Tupelo Honey, she came and stood between them. I couldn't see where she had come from, but suddenly she was there standing between them as they sang. I'd never seen her before. My wife was her friend. When we came out into the lobby, there were several pictures of her in the lobby, and I recognized that she had appeared at her own funeral."
Although no one else saw her, the gathered listeners were pretty astounded to hear the man's story. He was an engineer for Bell Telephone, the kind of level-headed, fact-based guy not normally given to such paranormal experiences.
Regardless of what you may believe or not about the spirit world, we live in a part of the country where most folks have Gloria Shull's faith in an all-powerful God. As she put it, "God uses everything for his purposes, so we don't need to worry about it."
That's nice to hear when it's Halloween.
Pat Jobe's book about Tommy Hicks is still on sale in local stores. There are a couple of stories about his appearing to people after his death in 2017.