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Friday, 2 August 2013



Aunty Greenleaf and the White Deer

Aunty Greenleaf was a scrawny old woman with a wild thatch of gray hair and a crooked nose. She lived in a hut surrounded by pines just outside Brookhaven, and she sold herbal remedies to the folks in town. Mostly, people avoided her, except when someone got sick because it was said that Aunty Greenleaf was a witch. Her home remedies worked too well to be natural. Folks figured she had to have help from the devil or one of his familiars.
There were many stories whispered in Brookhaven about Aunty Greenleaf. People said she had hexed a farmer's pigs once after he spoke rudely to her, so that they all died, one right after another. One prominent citizen dreamed of Aunty Greenleaf, and the next morning her daughter fell ill with a fever and nearly died. It was also rumored that Aunty Greenleaf and her witch friends crossed the Atlantic in an egg-shell and frolicked with the witches in England. Then they put a spell on the egg-shell so that it brought them back here before sunrise
In the early fall, folks in town began talking about a large, pure-white deer that was seen roaming the woods near Brookhaven at night. Several hunting parties were gathered to go after the large animal, but it seemed to be impervious to bullets, and folks began saying it was a phantom deer. Around about that time, several women in the town began having trouble with their churning and a number of cows and pigs began to sicken and die. Folks blamed the incidents on the phantom deer, though each of the people afflicted with the trouble had crossed Aunty Greenleaf at some time in the last month.
The men of Brookhaven got up a hunting party to chase down the animal. They were gone all day, and well into the night. Finally they spotted the white deer. It was the largest deer any of them had ever seen, and was fast too. They couldn't keep up with it. The men got several good shots in, and swore that at least one of them hit the deer, but it just kept running. They returned home empty-handed.
One local farmer became obsessed with the white deer. Every moment he could spare from his work, the farmer would take his gun and go hunting in the woods around town. He saw the white deer several times, but he his shots always seemed to go astray. Finally, he decided the white deer must be a witch of some sort. The farmer melted silver to make bullets, and then he took his gun and went out hunting the white deer. He managed to make three shots with his silver bullets and the white deer actually stumbled as if one of the shots had hit it. Then it jerked upright and ran away. He tracked it almost to Aunty Greenleaf's hut, but then he lost it in the dark somehow, which was mighty strange, seeing as the deer was pure white.
The next day, the farmer learned that Aunty Greenleaf was ill. From the moment she took to her bed, the local farm animals stopped dying and the families who were having trouble with their churning were back to normal. Less than a week later, Aunty Greenleaf died and the doctor who cared for her told the minister he found three silver bullets in her spine.
After the death of Aunty Greenleaf, the phantom white deer was never heard of or seen again in Brookhaven

Death Coach

It is midnight. The streets of Cohoes grow silent as the citizens turn off their lights one by one and go to their well-earned rest. The night is dark, and the wind whispers softly, touching the trees and houses, rattling a window pane here and there. 

In one house, a woman sits beside her window, waiting silently for the doctor to arrive. Her beloved husband lies on the bed next to her. In the light of a single candle, she can see his emaciated face. He is in terrible pain, which even the drugs prescribed by the doctor cannot abate. She clutches his hand tightly, feeling the cold creeping through it. He is barely breathing now. She knows he is slipping away. One part of her is thankful, for she cannot bear to see him in so much pain. Most of her wants to scream out in desperation, begging him not to leave her alone. 

Outside the house, the soft rumble of wheels and the clip-clop of hooves echo through the still night. The woman tears her eyes from her husband's face and looks out of the window, expecting to see the doctor's curricle pulling into the street. Instead, she sees a dark, closed coach with black gaping holes where the windows should be. The shafts at the front of the coach are empty, yet she can hear the sound of invisible horses' hooves, as the coach moves slowly down the street. 

She draws in a deep breath and exhales slowly. It is the Death Coach. Her husband had told her it would come for him that night, but she hadn't believed him. Hadn't wanted to believe him. Yet there it is, rolling slowly up to the front of the house to stop by the front gate. The sight terrifies her, and she clutches her husband's hand tightly. He opens his eyes and smiles feebly at her, trying to squeeze her hand. 

"Is it here?" he asks, his voice barely a whisper. She nods. 

"I love you," he says to his wife. She leans down and kisses him, feels his last breath on her lips. The grip on her hand loosens, and she knows he is dead. She straightens up, looking tenderly at his dead face through her tears. 

A movement by the door causes her to look up. She sees her husband's spirit standing at the door. He gazes first at his dead body, and then smiles at her. Then he turns and walks down the stairs. She moves at once to the window, flinging it open and leaning out, hoping to see him again. The front door opens, and her husband steps out the front porch and walks slowly to the Death Coach. The door opens, and he pauses for a moment to look towards the window, knowing she is watching. He waves and she waves back, tears streaming down her face. Then her husband steps into the coach and the door closes behind him. Slowly, the Death Coach rumbles down the street, turns a corner, and is gone. 

"Goodbye, my love," she calls softly, as the Death Coach disappears. Her husband's pain is over, but hers has just begun. With a heavy heart, she closes the window, and goes down the stairs to telephone the doctor and tell him her husband is dead.

Fifty-Cent Piece

There is a story told in Troy and Albany about a couple returning home from a trip to New England. They were driving home in a carriage, and were somewhere near Spiegletown when the light failed and they knew they would have to seek shelter for the night.
The husband spied a light through the trees and turned their horse into a small lane leading up a hill. A pleasant little house stood at the crest, and an old man and his wife met the couple at the door. They were in nightclothes and were obviously about to turn in, but they welcomed the travelers and offered them a room. The old woman bustled about making tea and offering freshly-baked cakes. Then the travelers were shown to their room. The husband wanted to pay the old couple for their lodgings, but the old lady shook her head and the old man refused any payment for such a small service to their fellow New Yorkers.
The travelers awoke early and tiptoed out of the house, leaving a shiny fifty-cent coin in the center of the kitchen table where the old couple could not miss it. The husband hitched up the horse and they went a few miles before they broke their fast at a little restaurant in Spiegletown.
The husband mention the nice old couple to the owner of the restaurant and the man turned pale.
"Where did you say that house was?" he asked. The husband described the location in detail.
"You must be mistaken," said the restaurant owner. "That house was destroyed three years ago by a fire that killed the Brown family."
"I don't believe it," the husband said flatly. "Mr. and Mrs. Brown were alive and well last night."
After debating for a few more minutes, the couple and the restaurant owner drove the carriage back out of town towards the old Brown place. They turned into the lane, which was overgrown with weeds, and climbed the hill to the crest. There they found a burned out shell of a house that had obviously not sheltered anyone for a long time.
"I must have missed the track," said the husband. And then his wife gave a terrified scream and fainted into his arms. As he caught her, the husband looked into the ruin and saw a burnt table with a shiny fifty-cent piece lying in the center.

A Gift from Saint Nicholas

Claas Schlaschenschlinger was a wealthy cobbler living on New Street in New Amsterdam. He was a contented bachelor who could afford eight - eight mind you! - pairs of breeches and he had a little side business selling geese. He cut quite a figure in New Amsterdam society, and was happy being single, until he met the fair Anitje! She was as pretty as a picture, and Claas fell head over heels for her. He was not her only suitor, by any means. The local burgomaster was also courting the fair Anitje. But the burgomaster was a stingy, hard man, and in the end, Anitje gave her heart and hand to Claas. 

At first, Claas and Anitje were very happy and prosperous, raising geese and children. But the burgomaster was a vengeful sort of fellow, who began a series of "improvements" to the local neighborhood, charging highly for each one, until all their money was gone. The arrival of a blacksmith who repaired shoes with hob nails, so that the shoes lasted a year or more, left Claas, Anitje and their six children as poor as church mice. 

Christmas Eve found the Schlaschenschlinger family down to their last, cold meal of bread and cheese. Claas was wondering what he had left to sell, in order to feed his family. Then he remembered a fine pipe that he had found in one of his stockings on a long ago Christmas morning in Holland. It was a fine pipe, too good for a mere cobbler. Claas knew even then that such a gift could only be from Saint Nicholas himself. 

Claas leapt up and went to dig through an old chest until he found the pipe. As he unearthed it from under a pile of clothes, a draft of cold air came from the open front door. Claas scolded his children for playing with the door and went to close it, but found the doorway filled by the merry, round figure of a stranger. 

"Thank you, thank you, I will come in out of the cold," said the man, stomping in the door and taking a seat by the poor excuse for a fire that blazed in the hearth. 

The family gathered around the white bearded old fellow as he tried to warm himself. He scolded them roundly for not keeping the fire hot, and when Claas admitted that they had nothing left to burn, the old man broke his fine rosewood cane in two and threw it on the fire. The cane blazed up merrily, heating the whole room, and singeing the hair of the cat, which leapt away with a yowl of indignation, making everyone laugh. It was hard to be sober around this merry old man, who made sly jokes, told riddles, and sang songs. 

After sitting for half an hour with the family, the old man began rubbing his stomach and gazing wistfully at the cupboard. 

"Might there be a bite to eat for an old man on this Christmas Eve?" he asked Anitje. 

She blushed in shame and admitted there was nothing left in their cupboard. 

"Nothing?" said he, "Then what about that fine goose right there?"

Anitje gasped, for suddenly the smell of a tenderly roasted goose filled the room. She ran to the cupboard, and there was a huge goose on a platter! She also found pies and cakes and bread and many other good things to eat and drink. The little boys and girls shouted in delight, and the whole family feasted merrily, with the little white bearded old man seated at the head of the table. As they ate, Claas showed the old man the pipe he meant to sell. 

"Why that pipe is a lucky pipe," said the old man, examining it closely. "Smoked by John Calvin himself, if I am not mistaken. You should keep this pipe all your days and hand it down to your children." 

Finally, the church bells tolled midnight, and the little old man cried: "Midnight! I must be off!" Claas and Anitje begged him to stay and spend Christmas with them, but, he just smile merrily at them and strode over to the chimney. "A Merry Christmas to you all, and a Happy New Year!" he cried. And then he disappeared. Ever afterwards, Anitje and her daughters claimed they saw him go straight up the chimney, while Claas and the boys thought he kicked up the ashes and disappeared out the door. 

The next morning, when Anitje was sweeping the fireplace, she found a huge bag full of silver, bearing the words "A Gift from Saint Nicholas". Outside the house, there arose a clamor of voices. When Claas and Anitje went to investigate, they discovered their wooden house was now made of brick! 

At first, the townsfolk thought they were in league with a wizard, but when Claas told them the story and showed them the new possessions and riches left to them by the old man, they made him the town alderman. 

The transformed "Dutch House" remained a landmark for many years following the death of Claas and Anitje, until the British tore it down to make way for improvements in the neighborhood.

Ghost Pilots of Times Square

He had just graduated from Harvard University and was living in Manhattan. He loved the city and was beginning to feel at home on its streets. World War II was raging in Europe, and like all other good citizens, he followed the headlines daily and did his part for the boys overseas.
Hugging his jacket close, he stood shivering at the corner, waiting for the light to change and wondering where his enlisted friends might be staying on that cold winter night. He hoped they were safe. He shivered, only partially from the cold, and looked around him at the bright lights of Times Square. He never tired of this glittering scene.
His eye was caught by two men who were dressed in the uniforms of the Royal Air Force of England. They must be on leave, he thought. The men stopped beside him, glanced quickly at their watches, and then nodded and grinned at him. The taller of the two asked him, in the clipped accent of the British, if this was Times Square. He suppressed a smile at such a touristy question and said that it was.
The light changed, and the two RAF pilots fell into step with the Harvard graduate as he crossed the street. The three men fell into conversation together as they meandered along the shining streets. The Brits were thrilled to be in Times Square after all they had suffered in the war. They didn't go into detail about their wartime experiences, and he didn't press them. He just enjoyed their pleasure in the scene, which was marred only by the frequent checking of their watches. Finally, he asked if they had someplace to be, but they said they were free for the evening. He promptly invited them to have dinner with him at the Harvard Club, and the RAF pilots accepted with alacrity.
The three men repaired immediately to the Harvard Club, where they dined leisurely and chatted late into the evening. The RAF pilots were good company and told many stories, although they glossed over their experiences in the war. They continued to check their watches frequently throughout the night, but he decided it was just a nervous habit they had picked up somewhere - possibly in the air force.
As midnight approached, the two RAF pilots excused themselves are rose from the table. They thanked the Harvard man for a memorable evening and started for the door. Then the tall pilot turned back and told their host that they had always wanted to visit Times Square, but never had the opportunity. It was strange, the pilot added, that they had to wait until after they were dead - killed in action when their planes were shot down the night before over Berlin - to fulfill this dream.
The Harvard man stiffened, his eyes widening incredulously and his mouth falling open in shock. He gasped but could not speak. The phantom RAF pilot smiled sardonically at him, nodded, and joined his friend in the doorway. Then the pilots vanished before the astonished man's eyes, just at the stroke of twelve midnight.

The Headless Horseman

One cold winter night, early in the New Year, a certain Dutchman left the tavern in Tarrytown and started walking to his home in the hollow nearby. His path led next to the old Sleepy Hollow cemetery where a headless Hessian soldier was buried. At midnight, the Dutchman came within site of the graveyard. The weather had warmed up during the week, and the snow was almost gone from the road. It was a dark night with no moon, and the only light came from his lantern.
The Dutchman was nervous about passing the graveyard, remembering the rumors of a galloping ghost that he had heard at the tavern. He stumbled along, humming to himself to keep up his courage. Suddenly, his eye was caught by a light rising from the ground in the cemetery. He stopped, his heart pounding in fear. Before his startled eyes, a white mist burst forth from an unmarked grave and formed into a large horse carrying a headless rider.
The Dutchman let out a terrible scream as the horse leapt toward him at a full gallop. He took to his heels, running as fast as he could, making for the bridge since he knew that ghosts and evil spirits did not care to cross running water. He stumbled suddenly and fell, rolling off the road into a melting patch of snow. The headless rider thundered past him, and the man got a second look at the headless ghost. It was wearing a Hessian commander's uniform.
The Dutchman waited a good hour after the ghost disappeared before crawling out of the bushes and making his way home. After fortifying himself with schnapps, the Dutchman told his wife about the ghost. By noon of the next day, the story was all over Tarrytown. The good Dutch folk were divided in their opinions. Some thought that the ghost must be roaming the roads at night in search of its head. Others claimed that the Hessian soldier rose from the grave to lead the Hessian soldiers in a charge up nearby Chatterton Hill, not knowing that the hill had already been taken by the British.
Whatever the reason, the Headless Horseman continues to roam the roads near Tarrytown on dark nights from that day to this.
Henry Hudson and the Catskill Gnomes
On September 3rd of 1609, Henry Hudson sailed the Half Moon into the mouth of the great New York river that later bore his name. The explorer and his crew journeyed north for several days, trading with the native residents and searching for the fabled northwest passage to the Orient. By the time he reached the area that would become present-day Albany, Hudson knew that he had not found the passage for which he sought. Reluctantly, he turned the Half Moon and sailed back down the river.
That night, Henry Hudson and his crew anchored the Half Moon in the shadow of the Catskill Mountains. Around midnight, Hudson heard the sound of music floating across the mountains and down to the river. Taking a few members of his crew, he went ashore and followed the sound up and up into the Catskills. The sound of the music grew louder as Hudson and his men marched up to the edge of a precipice. To their astonishment, a group of pygmies with long, bushy beards and eyes like pigs were dancing and singing and capering about in the firelight.
Hudson realized that these creatures were the metal-working gnomes of whom the natives had spoken. One of the bushy-bearded chaps spotted the explorer and his men and welcomed them with a cheer. The short men surrounded the crew and drew them into the firelight and the dance. Hudson and his men were delighted with these strange, small creatures, and with the hard liquor that the gnomes had brewed. Long into the night, the men drank and played nine-pins with the gnomes while Henry Hudson sipped at a single glass of spirits and spoke with the chief of the gnomes about many deep and mysterious things.
Realizing at last how late it was, Hudson looked around for his men. At first, he couldn't locate them. All he saw were large groups of gnomes, laughing and joking as they sprawled around the fire. Then, to his astonishment, he recognized several of the gnomes as his crewmen! They had undergone a transformation. Their heads had swollen to twice their normal size, their eyes were small and pig-like, and their bodies had shortened until they were only a little taller than the gnomes themselves.
Hudson was alarmed, and asked the chief of the gnomes for an explanation. It was, the chief explained to Hudson, the effect of the magical hard liquor the gnomes brewed. It would wear off when the liquor did. Hudson wasn't sure that he believed the little man. Afraid of what else might happen to him and his crewman if they continued to linger in such company, Hudson hurriedly took his leave of the gnomes and hustled his severely drunken crewmen back to the Half Moon. The entire crew slept late into the morning, as if they were under the influence of a sleeping draught. When they awakened, the crewmen who had accompanied Hudson up into the Catskill Mountains, aside from ferocious headaches, were back to normal
Hudson continued on his way down the great river, and by October 4th, the Half Moon had reached the mouth and Hudson and his crew sailed for home. In 1610, Hudson set off on another journey, searching for a northwestern passage to the Orient. Trapped in the ice through a long winter, Hudson's crew eventually mutinied and set Henry Hudson and eight of his crewmen adrift in the Hudson Bay. They were never seen again.
In September 1629, twenty years to the day that Hudson and his crew met the Catskill gnomes, a bright fire appeared on the precipice above the hollow, and dance music could be heard floating through the mountains. The Catskill gnomes spent the evening dancing, and carousing and drinking their magic liquor. At midnight, they were joined by the spirits of Henry Hudson and crew. Merry was their meeting, and the gnomes and the spirits played nine-pins all night long. Each time they rolled the ball, a peal of thunder would shake the mountains, and the fire would flare up in bolts like lightening. The party lasted until daybreak, at which hour the spirits departed from the hills, with promises to return.
Every twenty years, the spirits of Henry Hudson and his crew returned to the Catskill Mountains to play nine-pins with the gnomes, and to look out over the country they had first explored together on the Half Moon. Now and then, one of the Dutch settlers living in the region came across the spirits as they played nine-pins. They claimed that any man foolish enough to drink of the spirits' magic liquor would sleep from the moment the spirits departed the mountain to the day they returned, twenty years later. Most folks discounted the story, although several members of Rip Van Winkle's family swore it was true. True or false, wise folks who walk among the Catskills in September do not accept a drink of liquor when it is offered to them. Just in case.

Lincoln Death Train

I'd been transferred to the Hudson Division of the New York Central system, and was working the rails on the main line between New York and Albany. I was on the late shift to start with, since I was a bit of a night owl. After six weeks of stomping the tracks and mending the rails, I was feeling right at home in my new job.
Then, just before midnight on a clear spring night in late April, we got a report of some brush on the track near our station. I was sent out immediately to clear it away before the next train came. I had nearly an hour before the next train, and so I did not hurry as I walked along the rails. It was surprisingly pleasant and rather warm. Overhead, the clouds were obscuring the moon, but the light from my lantern made a cheerful glow in the night.
Suddenly, a chilly wind swept over the rails with a whoosh, like a wind just before a thunderstorm. It was so strong that it nearly knocked me over. I staggered backward, swearing and wind-milling my arms to try to keep my balance. I almost dropped the lantern, but managed to get my balance just before it slipped out of my hand.
Shivering in the sudden cold, I squinted down the track and saw a huge blanket of utter darkness rolling toward me. It blanked out the rails, the trees, the sky, everything. "Good lord, what is that?" I gasped. I leapt away from the track and started to run back toward the station, but the darkness swept up and over me before I had moved a yard. The lantern in my hand was snuffed out instantly.
I stopped, unable to see more than a few paces around me. To my right, the rails began to gleam with a strange blue light. I staggered backwards from the tracks, my pulses pounding in fear and dread. What was going on?
Then the headlight of a train pierced the thick darkness. It gleamed blue-white in the strange black fog, and when it appeared, the rails brightened in response. A huge steam-engine draped in black crepe approached, stacks bellowing forth a steady stream of smoke. The brass on the engine gleamed, and it pulled several flat cars along behind it. I stared into the windows of the engine, but couldn't see any crew.
Just at the edge of hearing came the faint sound of music and turned to look at the flat cars behind the engine. I gasped and back up so far that I bumped into the trunk of a tree growing near the tracks. There was a glowing orchestra of skeletons seated in a semi-circle. They were playing a nearly-soundless funeral dirge on glowing black instruments. A violinist played passionately; a skeleton lifted a flute to its lipless mouth; a lone drummer sat waiting patiently for his cue from the skeletal conductor.
Then the orchestra was gone and another glowing headlight pierced the blackness. I was trying unsuccessfully to push my way through the bark of the tree by this time. Another black crepe draped train was approaching. A funeral train, I thought. Again, there was no one manning the engine, and no one appeared on the flat car behind it. The only thing there was a single black-crepe draped coffin. But swirling in the air around the train were the ghostly figures of soldiers dressed in the blue uniforms worn by the North during the civil war. They lined up before my eyes, saluting the solitary coffin as it passed. Some of the ghosts staggered under the weight of their own coffins; some limped on one leg or sat in a wheeled chair, legless. Their eyes were fixed upon the flat-car and the black-creped coffin. Then they were joined by soldiers from the Southern army, and all these lads saluted too, honoring the one who had fallen.
That's when I knew what I was seeing. This was the funeral train of Abraham Lincoln. I straightened up and saluted myself, having done my bit for the North many years ago.
The steam train moved slowly away and with it went the darkness and the chill and the clouds that had obscured the moon. In my hand, the lantern sprang back to life. I blinked a few times and brushed away a tear. As the world around me brightened, I saw the reported brush littering the tracks right in front of me. Mechanically, I cleared it away and made sure the track was safe for the next train. Then I went back to the station.
The next morning, all the clocks on the Hudson Division were six minutes behind and all the trains were running six minutes late. When I asked the stationmaster about it, he shook his head and told me not to worry. It was caused by the Lincoln Death Train, which had stopped time as it ran by in the night.

The Maid of the Mist

She lost her husband and her hope at a young age, and the beautiful girl could not find her way through the sorrow upon sorrow that was her lot in life. So she stepped one day into her canoe, singing a death song softly to herself, and paddle out into the current. Soon the canoe was caught by the rough waves and hurtled toward the falls. But as it pitched over and she fell, Heno, the god of thunder who lived in the falls, caught the maiden gently in his arms and carried her to his home beneath the thundering veil of water.
Heno and his sons ministered to the grieving girl, and she stayed with them until her heart healed within her. Then the younger son spoke words of love to the maiden and they married, to the delight of the god of thunder. A young son was born to the couple, and he followed his grandfather everywhere, learning what it meant to be a god of thunder.
The only shadow on the happiness of the maiden in the mist was a continual longing to see her people one more time. Her chance came in an unexpected and unwelcome way. A great snake came down the mighty river and poisoned the waters of her people. They grew sick and were dying. Soon the snake would return to devour the dead until my people were all gone. It was Heno himself who gave her the news, and she begged that she might return for one hour to warn her people of the danger. The god himself lifted her through the falls and set her down among her people to give warning about the evil snake that was causing such pestilence among them. She advised them to move to a higher country until the danger was past, and they agreed. Then Heno came and took the maiden back to her husband and her home.
In a few days, the giant serpent returned to the village, seeking the bodies of those who had died from the poison it had spread. When the snake realized that the people had deserted the village, it hissed in rage and turned upstream to search for them. But Heno heard the voice of the serpent and rose up through the mist of the falls. He threw a great thunderbolt at the creature and killed it in one mighty blast. The giant body of the creature floated downstream and lodged just above the cataract, creating a large semi-circle that deflected huge amounts of water into the falls at the place just above the god's home. Horrified by this disastrous turn of events, Heno swept in through the falls and did his best to stop the massive influx of water, but it was too late.
Seeing that his home would soon be destroyed, Heno called for the maiden and his sons to come away with him. The younger son caught up his wife and child and followed Heno through the water of the falls and up into the sky, where the Thunderer made them a new home. From this place, they watch over the people of the earth, while Heno thunders in the clouds as he once thundered in the vapors of the great falls. To this day, an echo of the Heno's voice can be heard in the thunder of the mighty waters of Niagara Falls.


As a special treat, we decided to take the sunset cruise around lower Manhattan the Sunday before Labor Day. It was a silly thing to do – totally tourist – but sometimes playing tourist is fun, even for someone living and working daily in the shadow of the Big Apple.
We took our cameras – my husband and I – and oooed and ahhhed over Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. We gawked as we went under the huge Brooklyn Bridge and held hands as the sun set in the west, turning lower Manhattan a lovely golden glow. As dusk fell, the lights came on, and that was glorious too.
We were on the East River now, between Brooklyn and lower Manhattan. I sighed happily, gazing at the beautiful glow of the twin towers that made up the bulk of World Trade Center. Then I blinked suddenly in surprise. I saw a large silhouette of what looked like a jet airliner flying toward the North tower. A moment later it intersected with the tower and disappeared. Then a second silhouette – also of a large airplane – appeared from the opposite direction and flew right toward the South tower and vanished. I shook my head in astonishment, and goose bumps rose on my arms and legs. What the heck had I just seen? I rubbed my eyes, but the New York skyline was back to normal. I shivered, and my husband noticed it at once. Turning away from the magnificent glitter of lights, he asked: “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” I said shortly, brushing both question and strange occurrence away. I couldn’t explain it, and didn’t want to think about it.
“Wow, look at that,” my husband cried, pointing up-river. Thrusting away the strange appearance of the two planes by the twin towers, I obediently gazed up-river, and drifted back into tourist mode.
A few days later, I was vacuuming the living room after breakfast when the phone rang. It was my husband. “Turn on the television right now,” he said, knowing I rarely watched TV in the morning. His voice sounded strange. I grab the remote control and switched on the television. Immediately, the screen was filled with a picture of the World Trade Center towers, black smoke billowing up around them.
“Two planes just hit the towers,” my husband’s voice said in the phone I had tucked to my ear, as the newscaster’s voice told me the same thing. Together over the phone, we watched our separate newscasts as rescuers tried to get to the people trapped on the upper floors. And then there was a sudden rumble, and first one, then a second tower collapsed.
All those people inside, I thought in horror, knowing I had just seen hundreds of real people with real lives die in an instant. My stomach roiled, and I sat abruptly down on the couch, horrified beyond even tears, my body shaking. Oh, my God, I prayed, and stopped, not knowing what else to say.
Suddenly, I remembered the vision I had seen Labor Day weekend. The memory brought with it all the chills and goose bumps it had when I saw it. Oh my gosh -- had my vision somehow caused this? My body shuddered with fear and reaction. But no -- how could it? I'd seen a vision of disaster, what my grandmother called a forerunner. But I still wasn't prepared for the chaos I saw on the screen in front of me.
This is not your fault, I told myself firmly. Taking up the remote control, I turned up the volume and watched events unfolding in the city. And wondered where the terrible events of today would take us. What day was it, anyway, I wondered abruptly. I glanced suddenly over at the kitchen calendar, and the date burned itself into my mind: It was September 11, 2001.

Piece By Piece

There once was a crazy ghost over Poughkeepsie way that got folks so plumb scared that nobody would stay more than one night in its house. It was a nice old place, or was, until the ghost began making its presence known. It got so no one would enter the house, not even kids on a dare, and you know what they are like!
Now when my friend Joe heard a fancy old house in Poughkeepsie was selling dirt cheap, he decided to go have a look. He asked me about it and I told him about the spook, but Joe just laughed. "I don't believe in ghosts," he said and went to visit the agent selling the house.
Well, the agent gave Joe a key, but refused to look at the old house with him, which should have told Joe something. But Joe's a stubborn man who won't listen to reason. He even waited until after dark to visit the house for the first time, just to prove his point.
Joe got to the house around nine p.m. and he entered the front hallway. It was a large entrance and well-proportioned, but neglected-looking, with creepy cobwebs and dust everywhere. As Joe paused near the door to get his bearings, he heard a thump from the top of the staircase facing him. A glowing leg appeared out of nowhere and rolled down the steps, landing right next to Joe's feet. Joe gasped out loud and stood frozen to the spot. An arm appeared and rolled down to meet the leg. Next came a foot, then another arm, then a hand. Glowing pieces of body kept popping into existence and plummeting down the steps towards Joe.
Joe held his ground a lot longer than anyone else ever had, but when a screaming head appeared at the top of the steps and started rolling towards him, Joe had had enough. With a shriek that could wake the dead - those that weren't already up and haunting the house that is - Joe ran for his life; out of the house, out of the street, and right out of town, leaving his car behind him.
He called me the next day and asked me to drive his car down to the hotel where he had spent the night. Joe was headed back to Manhattan and refused to come within fifty miles of Poughkeepsie ever again. The agent gave up trying to sell the house after that, and the house fell into ruin and was eventually torn down.

Spuyten Duyvil

Once in old New Amsterdam, there was a brave trumpeter named Anthony Van Corlaer who would blow his trumpet when Peter Stuyvesant wanted to call the people together.
One night, Peter received word that the English were going to attack New Amsterdam. He sent Anthony to warn the Dutch colonists along the Hudson and to call the people to fight. A storm was brewing. When Anthony reached the tip of Manhattan Island, there was no ferry to take him across the tide water creek which connects the Harlem and Hudson Rivers at the tip of Manhattan Island. Anthony called out for the ferryman, but there was no answer. Conscious of his important mission, Anthony decided he would swim across that creek in spite of the devil (in spuyt den duyvil).
Well, the Devil heard Anthony calling for the ferryman, and when Anthony was well into the middle of the creek, the Devil caught him by the leg. Anthony pulled out his trumpet and blew a terrific blast, louder than the wind. It startled the Devil so much that he let go of Anthony's leg. But Anthony did not have strength enough after his fight with the Devil to swim the creek, and so he drowned.
For many years after this, folks living at the northern tip of Manhattan claimed they could hear Anthony's trumpet blowing louder than the wind on nights when it stormed. And the creek where Anthony met his fate was called Spuyten Duyvil.

White Lady

In the early 1800s, the White Lady and her daughter were supposed to have lived on the land where the Durand Eastman Park -- part of Irondequoit and Rochester -- now stands. One day, the daughter disappeared. Convinced that the girl had been raped and murdered by a local farmer, the mother searched the marshy lands day after day, trying to discover where her child's body was buried. She took with her two German shepherd dogs to aid in her search, but she never found a trace of her daughter. Finally, in her grief, the mother threw herself off a cliff into lake Ontario and died. Her dogs pined for their mistress and shortly joined her in the grave. 

After death, the mother's spirit returned to continue the search for her child. People say that on foggy nights, the White Lady rises from the small Durand Lake which faces Lake Ontario. She is accompanied by her dogs and together they roam through the Durand Eastman park, still searching for her missing daughter.

The White Lady is not a friendly spirit. She dislikes men and often seeks vengeance against the males visiting the park on her daughter's behalf . There have been reports of the White Lady chasing men into the lake, shaking their cars, and making their lives miserable until they leave the park. She has never touched any females accompanying these unfortunate fellows.

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