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Aunt Sylvie's Computer Pranks


A few months back, I thought to write about my meeting my 4x great Aunt Sylvie, a witch, who lived in the foothills of Kentucky. I'm speaking in the traditional sense of the word witch. The woman had 'powers' and could do things that 'normal' folk just can't without trickery of some sort.

(Notice the quotation marks. The words 'powers', and 'normal' are not of my choosing, but rather what family said. I'd rather think she had advanced abilities that others fail to develop, which wouldn't necessarily make her a witch.) However it has proven problematic, every time I attempt to submit it something happens that results in not posting it.

The first time I tried, the word file where I had carefully written the events out simply vanished without a trace. My desk may look like a random explosion has taken place, but my computer is very organized. That file was no where to be found. Although I did come up with a misfiled (?) picture of Aunt Sylvie laughing. How it got into a word file, I've no idea.

Another time, my keyboard decided to have a mind of its own. It simply would not type. It worked every place else but on the submission page. Finally frustrated, I closed out YGS - and what pops up on my screen? Aunt Sylvie's picture.

A week or so later, I had re-written my accounting, saved it, but left it open so that I could copy and paste it into the submission box. My mouse refused to copy and paste. Fine, then I'd just transcribe it into the box. Click 'submit' and - the screen went blank returning with a "Error 404" for the submission page. This time, no picture of Aunt Sylvie appeared, but I could swear I heard her wind chime like laugh.

Stuff like that happens every single time I try and submit it. Every. Time.

Although I met her over 40 years ago, I guess Aunt Sylvie just isn't ready to be 'discussed' by strangers. She didn't even care for family to talk about her much. (If you did it had better be nice, because somehow she ALWAYS knew.)

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, valkricry, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

spiritwaiting (34 stories) (804 posts)
3 months ago (2017-08-07)

Your Great Aunt Sylvie sounds like quite the character! 😁

It's fascinating she knew you were trying to discuss her and tried what she could to keep it from happening.

Love this!

Fergie (36 stories) (1094 posts)
4 months ago (2017-08-03)
Val, that was no trouble at all - you are welcome.

It would be amazing if Aunt Sylvie allowed you to publish her story, or part thereof. Maybe after writing to her, as Biblio suggested, she will feel more amenable to your endeavours.

It is very true, as Biblio said, that older generations did not like their affairs aired in public. My Auntie once told me a *huge* family secret. After the telling, I was like, "What? So what was so bad about that?" To me it was just a morsel of gossip, nothing to get your knickers in a knot about. To her, it was something 'hush-hush' that hadn't been spoken about for three generations. Go figure? 😕
valkricry (39 stories) (2748 posts) mod
4 months ago (2017-08-02)
I don't think your suggestion sounds so odd. In fact, I think it's a bit similar to Tweed's about leaving the tab to YGS up, or BGP's that I talk to her and explain.
A letter would be form of communication that Aunt Sylvie would understand. We did correspond for a short while before her demise. She had that spidery Old English type handwriting, with all those loops and curly-ques. I do like your suggestion of letting her know she's free to edit.
I do think it's a bit odd, that she's been quiet all this time, until I decided to talk about her though. 🤔
Bibliothecarius (5 stories) (745 posts)
4 months ago (2017-08-01)
Greetings, Val.

Odd as this may sound, have you tried typing out a letter *addressed* to Aunt Sylvie? Given the timeframe (a great-great-great-great-aunt!), you may wish to explain the internet as a type of telegram with multiple recipients who may each reply so that everyone can see the responses. While this may seem like an archaic metaphor, telegrams were in use from 1844 until Western Union stopped providing the service in 2006. (Sidenote: during a research project, I discovered that the Beinecke Library at Yale has several telegrams to and from Langston Hughes in the late 1930s through the mid-1950s in their collection of his papers!) They were a commonplace service to transmit information quickly and accurately before the Telex (created in the 1930s), the Fax (facsimile printer; the first attempt was patented in England in 1843!), e-mails, and texting.

As she permitted your recounting the problems of submitting the narrative, she may be amenable to have parts of her story told with discreet respect for sensibilities she would have taken for granted in a more reserved era. I'm under no illusion whatever about the private behaviors of people of all social strata during that time, but it was gauche to parade one's private life as a public spectacle. To avoid her being offended by your recounting elements of her life, you may wish to include in the message that she should feel free to delete or change words, even sentences, which are uncomfortable for her. That way, she'll have an element of control over the events you choose to recount, and we'll get to hear about someone who --given her apparent age and her ability to delete computer files-- sounds fascinating!

Hope this helps.

valkricry (39 stories) (2748 posts) mod
4 months ago (2017-08-01)
Thanks for looking at the photo and agreeing it looks authentic. 😊 Since she allowed me to send you the picture, maybe she'll allow me to submit the story soon!
Fergie (36 stories) (1094 posts)
4 months ago (2017-08-01)
That will be great, Val.
I will keep my eyes peeled. 😆 I am no expert, but I do have quite a few ancient photos of folks that passed on before I was born.

Hope I can be of help. ❤
valkricry (39 stories) (2748 posts) mod
4 months ago (2017-08-01)
Fergie! Hello! I have one of those sepia's of a friend and me too. 😆 The feel is just...different.
I'll tell you what, I can try to email you a copy and you can tell me what you think. Maybe I just need some different eyes on this?
Fergie (36 stories) (1094 posts)
4 months ago (2017-08-01)
Weird stuff, Val.

We all know that computers can do inexplicable things, but that is just crazy! 😕

As far as your picture of a young Aunt Sylvie goes, is there a possibility that she was dressed up for fancy-dress, or maybe took part in a play? That would account for her dressing in clothes of a by-gone age.
Just a thought.

I have a sepia photo of hubby and myself dressed in 1800s clothes. It was taken at an historical town (Pilgrim's Rest) when we visited some years ago. Also have one of Angel and her friend. What a fun long weekend that was! 😁
valkricry (39 stories) (2748 posts) mod
4 months ago (2017-07-31)
BeautInside and lady_glow,
Thanks for reading! I think if I'm ever permitted to post her story, she'd certainly behave with your computers. Lol
valkricry (39 stories) (2748 posts) mod
4 months ago (2017-07-31)
Interesting idea on the file switch... Only I'm not sure how a.jpg (picture) could be read as a document file by the computer.
I only have one picture, that I was told is her, and that is slightly different then the one that popped up. When it popped up, she was clearly laughing, but in the one I have she's very sober faced.
I only noticed because I pulled it up looking at it's file extension to see if maybe there was something to your idea. It's a very old time portrait picture, not a close up and she's quite young in it - maybe 15 or so. It trips me up, because mathematically it doesn't add up. Her mode of dress and hair style look to be circa 1860, which would have put her around 130 when I met her. I've known folks to live a long time but...
I can think of 2 rational explanations: 1) A simple case of misidentifying who is in the picture. I was told long ago, this was her. No reason not to believe it, so even if it wasn't, maybe she still chose it to ID herself with? 2) Maybe I have the era wrong. I'm not infallible - but I don't think I'm wrong. And I do know she was down right ancient...
Sorry about prattling on so. But, as I recently said to someone, the devil is in the details. And accepting 130 as an age...
valkricry (39 stories) (2748 posts) mod
4 months ago (2017-07-31)
Tweed, somehow I over-looked your earlier comment. Sorry! I guess it's possible it's a generational thing with the internet on her behalf. Your comment did make me wonder though... What if what I'm perceiving as stonewalling her story, is actually her figuring things out? You know, a type of "If I do this, then that little box does that" type thing? It truly does make one go hmmm.
Secretly (yeah real secret, as I'm telling you. Lol) I'm glad you've had similar experiences with your guardian, because it makes me feel a little less nuts about this.
BeautInside (2 stories) (186 posts)
4 months ago (2017-07-31)
Hi Valkricry,

Wawww! That'd be too much of a coincidence I believe!

I guess it just proves how Aunt Sylvie's abilities were, and apparently still are, strong.
I think Melda is absolutely right, it is her prerogative only... 😊

L_Melb (198 posts)
4 months ago (2017-07-30)
Yes, I too would love to hear more of aunt Sylvie's exploits!
I wonder Val, have you ever saved photos of her to your computer? If saved with her name, maybe it linked similar named files 😕 - yes, that is what is called "grasping at straws"
Somehow, I don't think I'm going to come up with a half decent reason for any of this but, as always, it is a pleasure reading something from you 😁
lady-glow (8 stories) (1575 posts)
4 months ago (2017-07-29)
Val: it'd be hard to come up with a logical explanation for all those events. I just hope that, if Aunt Sylvie ever allows you to share her story, she won't haunt all the members's computers!
Melda (8 stories) (667 posts)
4 months ago (2017-07-29)
Val - Quite so. There are some abilities I won't regret losing but there are so many I'd love to gain. Maybe, time will tell...

Get on with it and tell us about Aunt Sylvie! One thing I for sure won't lose is my ability to be curious.

Regards, Melda
valkricry (39 stories) (2748 posts) mod
4 months ago (2017-07-29)
Melda, all I can say is maybe, perhaps. Lol It does make me wonder though, if those who have certain abilities in this life, retain those abilities in the here after?
valkricry (39 stories) (2748 posts) mod
4 months ago (2017-07-29)
Yep, it certainly is weird. The only thing I can think of is that being a witch wasn't exactly socially popular until the 50's and 60's. Even now, some still think of a witch as someone to be feared, although it seems a great many are more than happy to claim the label publicly.
Tweed (22 stories) (2036 posts)
4 months ago (2017-07-28)
aah, Val, things that make you go hmmmm.

I figured my guardian wouldn't like me writing stuff about him on here. He's such a private person but he's surprised me with how much he doesn't mind me sharing. I think he reads YGS over my shoulder and somehow 'gets' what we're all about, or the regulars at least. Maybe your Aunt Sylvie would feel more comfortable if you introduced her to YGS. Could be as simple as showing her the forum, leaving it open for her to peruse at her leisure. She might not have a grasp on the internet too, despite being able to manipulate files etc. It could be a generational barrier with the internet.

I hope she's cool with you sharing stuff someday, she's certainly peaked our curiosity! 😆
Melda (8 stories) (667 posts)
4 months ago (2017-07-28)
Val - Considering all the pranks Aunt Sylvie got up to, obviously insisting on remaining incognito, she certainly must have had many abilities in life and still has them after!

Now that she's allowed you to break the ice and probably satisfied that her numerous talents precede anything else that you might have to say, perhaps she'll allow you to go ahead and tell us more.

Well it certainly seems that Aunt Sylvie wants to make it quite clear that when and how you write her story is her prerogative 😆

Regards, Melda
babygoatpuller (4 stories) (369 posts)
4 months ago (2017-07-28)
That is so weird Val. I wonder what it is in your account that she doesn't want you to discuss or maybe it's the whole thing.

Maybe if you have a talk with her and explain what you're doing, she'll be a little more convinced that it's all good and may be helpful to others who read it. 😕

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