Growing up in St John's Parish, Louisiana in my Grandparents' home and their guest house we always had plenty of relatives visiting. Mostly because the house was cooler in summer than their's were and we had a little creek running through the property that us kids would play in when it got too hot. I grew up with some 15 cousins and 9 aunts and uncles on my mother's side of the family so there was no shortage of people to keep me entertained as a youngster.
The House was a big plantation house that my Grandpa Joshua got it in the will from his Uncle Maurice when he married my Grandma Marlena. It was spooky and had plenty of its own ghosts. Which I'll tell you about another time.
Summer came as it did in the south. Hot, humid and plenty of bugs to boot. But for us kids it meant time off school and time to play with various cousins who turned up over the break.
And most of us were daredevils. Myself especially, a real tomboy. If there was a tree to be climbed or a dare to be dared, I was usually the one to do it first. Much to the horror of my parents, whom didn't think their daughter (me) should be playing rough games with the boys. They need not have worried I out wrestled and out climbed them anyway.
Us kids loved exploring around the plantation and its surrounding area. Close enough still so we could hear anyone calling us in. But far enough we felt like we had the whole world to ourselves and no adults.
Down the road a bit from the House was a small shack on the banks of a bigger stream, it was no more than an old fishing/hunting shack but us kids (my cousins Peter, Mitch and Vince and I) found it to be what looked like a perfect getaway. And as it wasn't occupied at the time turned it into our clubhouse of sorts. My grandparents knew the place and warned us to be careful of the rotten boards in the floor and to be back before dinner time. We were ecstatic when Grammy, as we called her, made us curtains for the little windows. And Grandpa gave us some old furniture to use in the house. A table, four chairs and a small cupboard to keep things in (they were going unused in the shed at the time so he didn't mind us getting use out of them). Later we would have fishing poles and a small icebox for drinks too.
It was only a small one room deal. And the roof leaked when it rained. But to us it was perfect. Once the furniture was in there was almost no room and we had to keep the door open if we were inside so we could get in and out. Otherwise there was no room for the door to open. Once everything was in place Grandpa and Grammy came to visit and see how we'd done. And they said we made a good place for us to play.
For weeks everyday we went there and played, fished and explored the woods and waterways around the shack. Grammy would bring us lunch and sometimes we would bring back a fish or two for our efforts like proud hunters you could say. Grammy was always happy when we brought back fish and cleaned and cooked them for us. They were always nice when she made them.
It was my cousin Vince (8 at the time. I was 9) who first noticed that the shack was a little different. Nothing much at first. We would leave the chairs in to the table when we left always. But often we would come back and they were moved out like people had been sitting at the table. Other times the window that we left open in the day as we went out fishing or exploring, we'd come back and they'd be shut and the shades pulled too. We'd ask each other did you leave the chairs out or close the windows? And everyone would say that you know we didn't you were with us when we left.
One day Vince said to me that he and Mitch (his brother) had been in the cabin and Mitch had to go back to the house as he needed the washroom, so he left Vince there to look after the fishing poles. Peter and I were getting blackberries down stream a ways and heard a splash and a yelp. It sent us running buckets and all back to the cabin. In time to see Vince climbing out of the stream soaking wet. He started yelling "Ok, who pushed me? It's not funny!" Peter and I looked at him and I said, "Well, we were upstream picking berries. It wasn't us."
And Vince looked around for Mitch who was still on his way back from the house at the time. When he got back Vince questioned his brother. Mitch said it couldn't be him, he was at the house at the time and just came back as we saw him.
Vince went pale and said that he had been sitting there minding his business and holding the fishing poles when he heard steps behind him. Then, as he was about to turn around to see who it was, felt a strong, sharp push in the back and the next thing he knew he was in the stream. When he got out he looked around but couldn't see anyone. And poor Vince was scared out of his 11 year old mind. He ran home to change and wouldn't come back for almost a week. He was sure that place had a strange spirit or something that liked pushing kids in the water.
We tried to tell our parents but they laughed and said it wasn't funny to play jokes like that on each other. But none of us was near him when it happened. So who or what pushed Vince in the stream?
Other things that would happen was:
1. We would be out on the dock like thing at the front of the shack fishing and we would hear heavy footsteps going back and forth, back and forth across the shack when no-one was inside. It was impossible for anyone to do this as the furniture we had would have stopped any such pacing.
2. Several times when separated from each other we would hear someone calling our names, telling us to got back to the house as someone there wanted us. We would go back to the house only to find that no-one there had called us. And that at the time we weren't needed. The voice always sounded like my Grandpa. No-one else only him.
3. Food and toys would be moved and sometimes vanish for days at a time. Mostly they would resurface but never where they would be left. One toy, a yo-yo belonging to Mitch, came back with no string on it when it had a string when it disappeared. We never found the string. And one fishing creel disappeared the whole summer only to reappear the last day we were there. It was also smashed to pieces, when it was new when it disappeared.
That was the last full summer we lived in Louisiana. The next year just before I turned ten my parents moved to Nashville for my dad's work. Even though we went there the next year to see my Grandparents, the shack had been blown down in a storm just before Thanksgiving the previous year. And was totally destroyed. Only the dock remained.
We never knew what or whom haunted that old one room shack. Rumors were that my Grandpa's former neighbour, a guy called Cliff Morritz's dad Ellis built the place in about 1910. He died in the 1930's and Cliff died in the 1960's. They were fond of the fishing shack and spent all their spare time there in life when the weather was fine. Maybe they didn't like some rowdy kids playing there. We don't know.
My Grandpa died in 1979 from Cancer and Grammy in 1988 from heart problems to do with Diabetes and the place was passed on to my aunt and uncle. The main house burnt down in the 1990's and they weren't there at the time. Some family still stay in the guest house that still stands. Myself, I haven't been back since Grammy died. And frankly I really have no reason too.
I still have weird dreams about that shack.