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Ghost Story Collection (1974)

Ghost Story Collection (1974)

©1974, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Denny, Dallas. (1974). Ghost stories: A collection. Paper for Dr. Ralph W. Hyde, Middle Tennessee State University.






When I took MTSU’s only class in folklore I debated telling the instructor, Professor Ralph Hyde, that my father-in-law was Leonard Roberts, one of the pre-eminent folklorists in the United States. I decided to withhold that information. When I told Dr. Hyde at the end of the semester I could see him mentally replaying the entire course to see if he might have said anything that could have been taken negatively. He hadn’t.

Dr. Hyde was a character. He was forever rumpled, with large flakes of dandruff everpresent, and he seemed to own one suit and two ties– one yellow with red horses’ heads, and one red with yellow horses’ heads. I once saw him reach into his jacket pocket and remove a full cup of steaming coffee which he had forgotten he had placed there.

I made an A- on this paper because I didn’t clean up the first page he had marked up in red pencil. I left it as it was to remind him the stories were literal translations of the subjects’ tales and hence not gramatically perfect.

He wrote: This could have been cleaned up a bit. You might have retyped the first page of text (p. 8) even though it was my error in marking it up.


First Page of Text, as Initially Marked by Dr. Hyde


Edited by Dallas Denny

For Dr. Ralph W. Hyde


April 21, 1974



The following stories all have a common theme: the supernatural. Some of the stories treat this theme rather lightheartedly; others seem to be true experiences of the informants or of those close to the informants. I have grouped the stories into four rather loose categories: true experiences, jump tales, jokes and riddles, and local legends.

Several variations of some stories were collected. These are included in their entirety, in hopes that they will not seem repetitious. I feel that each variation differs from its fellows enough to be given separate consideration.



John Alexander: John, who has been a Tennessee resident all his life, is a graduate of McGavock High School in Nashville; he is presently a student at Austin Peay State University. John has spent thousands of hours doing volunteer work for the benefit of residents of Cloverbottom Developmental Center, and has received numerous awards and commendations, including one from the governor of Tennessee, for his services.

James Coursey: Jim, who is about twenty years old, graduated from Smyrna High School in 1971. He has lived in the Middle Tennessee area most of his life.

Vicky Coursey: Vicky, Jim’s wife, is still a high school student. She is a native Tennessean, and seems to be well-versed in both folk and urban patterns of living. Vicky is seventeen years old.

Dallas Denny: That’s me. I’m twenty-four years old, and a student at Middle Tennessee State University. I have lived in various sections of the country and in Europe, but Tennessee has been my home for the past eleven years.

Donna Denny: Donna, who is fourteen years old, is my sister. She attends Thurthan Francis Junior High School in Smyrna, and has been living in Tennessee all her life.

Lynneda Denny: Lynne and I are married. She is twenty-two years old, and is currently working on a M.A. degree at Middle Tennessee State University. Because her father taught at various colleges, she has lived in several Southern states. Lynne has been living in Tennessee for three years.

Ruby Denny: Ruby is my mother. She is fifty years old, and a native of Asheville, North Carolina. She has been living in Tennessee for ten years.

Tanya Denny: Tanya is my sister. She is sixteen, and attends school in Smyrna. She has lived in Tennessee as long as she remembers.

Mrs. J.T. (Selena) Denny: Selena is my grandmother. She is seventy‑eight years old, but is as spry and quick as ever. She has lived in Asheville, North Carolina all her life.

Debbie Gentry: Debbie, a native Tennessean, is seventeen years old.

Jackie Gentry: Jackie is twenty years old. He is Debbie’s husband. He graduated from Smyrna High School, and has been a Tennessee resident all his life.

Randy Medley: Randy is a native of Cookville, Tennessee, but graduated from high school in Murfreesboro. He is about twenty years old.

Ronnie Sanders: Ronnie is about twenty-three years old, and is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University. Ronnie is a Tennessee native.

Ed White: Its hard to estimate Mr. Ed’s age. Years ago, when I used to sit around his store and chew the fat, Ed told me he remembered when the Old Nashville Highway was paved in 1910. Mr. Ed is the proprietor of White’s Grocery, which is located near Stones River National Battlefield. Ed hails from Lewis County.


The pages which follow have been transcribed from my Panasonic IRQ-309S cassette-type recorder. I have tried to reproduce the style and flavor of the informants as faithfully as possible; occasionally this is done by deliberate spelling or runct.tion errors. Dr. Hyde, put your red pencil away.





As told by Lynneda J. Denny, February, 1974

I had a student teacher when I was in high schoo, and he was from Beckley, West Virginia. And he told us about a time when he

was in high school and wanted to belong to a fraternity. The initiation for this fraternity was to go inside this house and spend the night. And it belonged to one of the fraternity brothers, who lived in it. The story behind the house was that a long, long time ago, used to be a real rich old coal miner lived there. He worked himself up from foreman. ‘He went down in one of his mines one time There was a cave-in that broke his back. They took him to the house and put him in the upstairs bedroom, and the wife and the two children were really upset that anything had happened to him. So, everybody just thought they’d leave him alone for awhile, They closed all the doors and locked them, and they were really scared that he might die. Several days passed, and nobody saw anybody, so they decided to go find out what was going on. They knocked on the door, and nobody answered the door. They went on in, and they heard crying upstairs, and they went up to the bedroom, and the husband was dead— was in the bed dead, and his wife had killed herself, and there was a big bloodstain on the floor, and the children were huddled behind the rocking chair, crying. They had been there for several days, just panic-stricken. And the story goes that you can not keep the door open:, the rocking chair rocks, and you hear moaning and crying, and the bloodstain has never been gotten up off the floor.

Well, my student teacher decided to do this initiation, so early in the day be ran down and he locked all the doors and windows, and he had the only key, supposedly. So he went there that night, checked all the doors and windows, and nobody was in. He propped the door open with an iron and put a rug over top of the bloodstain so it wouldn’t bother him, and went downstairs to watch TV.

After a while, all the electricity went out, and it scared him. When it came back on, he heard the door slam upstairs, and he heard crying. Well, he decided it was probably one of his fraternity brothers playing a joke on him, so be went upstairs, and the door was shut, and the iron thing had just been slid all tee way shut, like it had been really pushed— the door had been pushed with the iron thing holding it, the rug was thrown back up from the blood, and the rocking chair was rocking. And he left that house immediately.


As told by Ronnie Sanders, February, 1974

This professor named Holland lived in Alabama somewhere when he was a kid, and not far from where his parents and he lived, there was an old abandoned country club that had been there for several years, long as he remembered, and this place set up on a little rise, sort-of, and it was glass walls all the way around, so you could in effect see through it in every direction. Okay. So one day he and a bunch of his friends are playing around and they happened to go up to the old country club. And they’re sitting there on the steps, and all of a sudden he sees one of his buddies take off running for no reason. And they all turn around and start looking behind them, and standing inside this glassed-in building, about this high off the floor, there was an old lady walking across the floor, only she wasn’t standing on the floor-she was about this high off the floor. And they took off running. Went home and told their parents, and everything, and everybody went back up and checked on it; couldn’t find a thing. No footprints, no nothing. There was nobody in there. And so, for years they just sort-of drifted away from it, and pretty soon nobody was afraid of it, or thought anything about it. And he went away to college, and one day somebody called him out of class to go to the telephone— right in the middle of the day. And he was away several hundred miles at school. And it’s his mother on the telephone saying, “You remember that old lady that you boys all said you saw in the glass house up there?” Said, “I saw her today.” And he says, “What?” She says, “I saw a picture of that old lady today, identical to the way you described her.” And in the town where he had been a boy there was this real old family that dated back years and years— been in the same house, you know, for a hundred years. And there was this real old woman that was left, and she had this portrait of one of her great aunts that had lived there a hundred years ago, I guess, I don’t know. Anyway, the mother had got to talking to this old lady, and found out that this old aunt’s house had been in the exact location where the country club with the glassed-in walls was now. And the only difference was that her house was about four or five feet off the ground, where the country club ballroom floor was just a few inches.

She was walking on the floor of her cabin. Needless to say, this freaked my teacher out a little bit.


As told by Ronnie Sanders, February, 1974

A few years later, he and his wife were in Edinboro, Scotland, and they were having some kind of play festivals, or something, and be was sittingg around one night and he described the way that most of the houses and buildings and everything were over there. You walk in, and there’s a room on the right, and a room on the left, and then there’s a little connecting corridor-type thing that goes back to the kitchen, and anything else there is. So one night, after the festival, they were known as the ‘crazy Americans.’ They always had coffee on, you know, all hours of the night. And a lot of the local people stopped by to see them and so they didn’t think anything about it if anybody came in in the middle of the night. So one night they’re in there in the bed, and his wife wakes him up and says, “There’s somebody over there.”

And he doesn’t think a lot about it, you know; just thinks it’s some of the local people, you know, stopped by to drink some coffee, or something, and he gets up and goes in there, and there’s these— this old man and old woman, dressed in the old Scottish dress. Of course the place where they were staying was several hundred years old, anyway. And so, he wakes up these two other people who were living in the room across the hall. And they come out and they all look and they all see it. And they think that’s funny, they’re dressed in the old dress and everything, yet there’s the play festival going on, and so they thought they were just characters in a play or something. And he goes in to offer them some coffee, and he turns on the light, and they vanish. He turns the light off, and they’re not there either. He tries it a few times, and they’re just gone. He never saw them again, and they left not too long after that. And this led him to believe that he was maybe a little easier to get along with for ghosts than other people.


As told by Ronnie Sanders, February, 1974

He came to Murfreesboro and started teaching, and his house is the one on the corner opposite the fraternity house down there that’s across the road from Central High. They moved in, and stayed a while and everything, and he has five or six children, you know, and everybody started tellirg him, say “Hey! Did you see who the youngest daughter,” I forget her name— we’ll call her Sara “Have you seen who Sara’s been playing with? Her new playmate?” And he said, “Why, I haven’t seen anything.” And the next day, there’d be a couple more kids come in and say, “Hey! Sara’s got a new playmate.” “Who’s the new playmate?” And he said, “I haven’t seen any strange kids running around.” And so, finally, everybody but this professor had seen the kid. And they were all telling him she said she was dead; that she was a ghost; that she had lived there about forty years before that. And so, finally, one day he sees the little girl. And he talks to her, and he asked her where she lived, and she said, “Here.” And he aays, “Well, whose children are you?” and she says, “My parents are dead.” And he says, “Well, what are you doing here?” and she said, “I died here.” And so she turned and walked off, and went up the stairs into his bedroom— the professor’s. And he went up the stairs right behind her. He said he was not more than from here to the couch behind her. She turned and went Into the bedroom. He popped around just a second later, and she was gone.

He wants to check into this, because it just doesn’t make sense to him because even if the child was a ghost, surely to God it wouldn’t be living in his house in particular. So he does some checking, and a family who had owned the house approximately forty-five years before that— I forget the exact number of years he specified, but he had it exact— had had a little girl who was eleven years old, and when she was eleven, she went into a coma, and her parents had carried her to the hospital, and she died there about an hour later. And so he got to thinking about it, and said, “Well, if a person goes into a coma, for all practical purposes, they’re dead. You know, the mind’s gone. So he says maybe the girl remembered dying here. And so he goes and talks to this kid’s— what were really its younger brothers and sisters, but now they were thirty years old— thirty years old or something. Anyway, he goes to them and talks to them, and tells them the whole story, and gets facts from them to back it up. Like, “Yeah, that’s my little sister.” He even got them to dig out an old picture or two, and compared it to the girl. He said he was convinced it was the same person. He even went and dug out death certificates and birth certificates, and the whole bit. And everything pointed to the fact that this was the same girl. And he says that she has been seen by other people in the county other than his family, and whenever he tells most of them what it is, what she is, they don’t believe him; they just laugh. And so he’s quit telling them. Most of them think she’s a little girl who wears forty-year-old clothes.


As told by Mr. Ed White, February, 1974

I’ll tell you a story about a ghost. My daddy showed me it wasn’t a ghost, or to this day I’d still believe it was.

This took place back in horse-and-buggy days. To go anywhere, you had to take a horse-and-buggy. Sometimes you had to ride a horse because the reads were too rough to take a buggy. Now my daddy was superintendent of Lewis County schools, and one day he was goin’ into town. He told us boys to get up the horse. He told us in the morning. We were just boys, so we played around. We knew pretty much where the horse was, anyways. Pretty soon it got dark. My daddy came home, and he said, “Where’s that horse?” and we said, “We haven’t got him up yet.” And he said, “Whizzzt!” “Out you go!” So it was dark , but we weren’t scared, and we were walking around looking for that he, and we come to this old parsonage. It was supposed to be haunted, so we went in. The windows were all out; it was kind of moldering down, and this big old sheep rared up in front of us— scared us to death. We didn’t know it was a sheep. We all took out running, me and William, John, and Clyde. Me and Clyde went one way, William and John the other. And we all got home. They got home before we did and told my daddy, “Had eyes big as saucers!” Well, when we got home, we said the same thing. My daddy said, “Well, we’ll just have to check into this. I’ve never seen a ghost before.” So we went back to the parsonage, and sure enough, this old sheep rared up, and we saw that it was a sheep this time, and if my daddy hadn’t showed us that, to this day I’d believe it was a ghost in there.


As told by Ruby Denny, February, 1974

He was living in this big old house. And they said that these women had lived there that had illegitimate children, and they would kill the babies, and bury them in under the porch, you know. And someone had been hung in the barn. And they said that nights they couldn’t sleep for chains and things being drug around there.

And Rans one time, was started there, and one met him on this little bridge. And he said be didn’t believe in things like that. Until he came across that. And he said, talking about running. He turned and he ran. That’s all I know.


As told by Ruby Denny, February, 1974

This girl had these spells, you know, where you go into some kind of trance, and you can’t feel their heartbeat, or anything, and they lived in this block house, down below Aunt Nan and them. And the girl had one of the spells, and they pronounced her dead, and they buried her. At the time, they didn’t embalm. And the mother had these dreams, and she kept dreaming these dreams, and it liked to drove her crazy. And they dug up the girl, and she had turned over in her casket, and had all her hair pulled out.


As told by Mrs. Jackie Gentry, March, 1974

One night, when I was in sixth grade, I was sleeping, and I had this real weird dream that I had died, and I was up in heaven, and angels were flying all ’round, and everything. You know, really weird, and I woke up scared, and then I went in and told my Mom, and then while I was up telling her, the telephone rang, and it was some of my mom’s relatives, saying that her husband’s mother had died. And it really tore me up pretty bad.


As told by Jackie Gentry, March, 1974

Well, this is true, now. I might think I’m crazy, and all that stuff, but I wasn’t drinkin’, and I wasn’t sleepy or nothing like that. And I was over at one of my girl friend’s house. And her brother was with me. And we was coming over to my house to spend the night. So we was on Jefferson Pike in Lavergne, and we was coming home, and right before we got to the overpass, you know that big bridge up there, I seen a white thing on the side of the road. And when we got up there, I could tell that it was somebody. Only the closer we got, it looked more like my grandfather. He had on a robe— it looked just like a baptismal robe, you know, that you get baptised in, and, after we got so close on him, it kept its distance in front of the car, but it was going across the road at the same time.

But we never could gain on it, but still it was going across the road. And after I looked at it real hard, it looked just like my grandfather. And while he was walking across the road, his head was turning and looking at me, and smiling, all at the same time. Well, I was pretty shook up when I seen this, so I come home and told my daddy about it. It kind of shook up Daddy. ‘Cause Daddy said my grandfather was kind of weird, anyway. And said that when he was born, he was born with a double veil. And that— that’s supposed to mean something, like, you know, you got extra powers, or something like that. And he said, “Well, just be careful, because it may be a warning of some kind.” “You know, he may be coming back to warn you because you’re going to get in some kind of danger or something.” And so I watched it; I was real careful. It was about three days later, that I was coming up Murfreesboro Road, getting ready to turn off, to go up that bridge again. and my brakes went out on my car. I did’t wreck, or nothing; I could hold it under control.

Denny: You were coming up Jefferson Pike again?

Gentry: Yeah, I was fixin’ to go up on Jefferson Pike, up over the bridge again, where I seen my grandfather. And my brakes went out. And a lot of other cars had to slam on their brakes and slide to keep from hitting me, and I managed just to get across the road, you know, going up the hill, it slowed down enough where I could put it in park.


As told by Jackie Gentry, March, 1974

Talking about my grandfather, anyway, the colored lady that delivered my grandfather, and when she seen the double veil over his face, she told my great-grandmother— his mother, to tell my grandfather when he was fourteen years old to come to see her, and she would tell him of these special powers that he had. After he got fourteen, my great-grandmother told him,but he was scared. He didn’t want to know what he could do. He would dodge the colored lady. He would walk from one side of the street to the other to stay away from her. Only in life, my daddy was telling me some more weird things that had happened to him. Well, like he was crippled, ’cause be fell off the porch and broke his back when he was a young man. And after he broke his back, he had to stay in the bed all the time. And he got mean and irritable, and beat my grandmother with a walking cane, and they say— my daddy says be thinks he was really possessed. And, well, anyway, at night, when he was living with us at Nashville, when I was little, I was laying in the bed one night, and I heard him talking. Well, it kind of scared me. It was real dark, and he was just talking, carrying on a logical conversation with somebody. So I got scared and I woke up my daddy. And I said, “Daddy, there’s something wrong with Papaw.; he’s in there talking to somebody, and there ain’t nobody in there. So he come walking in there, and he asked him, “Old man, who you talking to?” And he said ‘Well, there’s my first wife sitting there on the corner of the bed, and there’s my mother and father, and there’s your mother, and if you do anything to me they’ll git you.” And they had him going down there to Central State Hospital, and places like that, you know, to prove he was crazy, and all that, and they couldn’t find anything wrong with him. But still these weird things happened and nobody knowed anything about it.


As told by Vicky Coursey, March, 1974

Well, where we used to live— I was about tweve years old. And the people next door to us was real good friends to us, well, she had a son and a husband, and a whole bunch of boys in the family, and they all wanted to go fishing on a camping trip for the weekend. And she was scared to stay by herself, so me and Mrs. Pitman—that was the woman— we stayed there. And they had twin beds in that room. Well, we stayed there, and we sat up, and we played cards, and we watched TV, and we just goofed around, and we finally went to bed. And I was sleeping in one bed, and she was sleeping in the other one. And I dozed off, and she dozed off, and about an hour later she jumped up and started screaming. And it scared me, so I said “What’s wrong?” She said, “Oh, nothing. Never mind. Go on back to bed.” Well, a few minutes later she woke up screaming again, and she was pulling at her covers. And I couldn’t see notbin’, but she was pulling, and something was pulling her covers.back at the foot of her bed. And so it finally quit, and I asked her, “What was it?” and she said some old lady was sittin’ in a rocking chair dipping snuff and pulling the ends of her covers. So we finally went on back to sleep, and the next morning we woke up, and there was a rocking chair at the foot of her bed, and a little snuff can, and a spit can,


As told by James Coursey, March, 1974

My daddy says that up near Columbia where they used to live, him, a preacher, and three other men went to this church that they said was possessed by a pagan devil. They said they sat there one day and watched balls of fire roll from the steeple of it, and there— him and his brother and other men— we’d been to my grandfather’s funeral, and I was sitting around the table listening to them— him, his brother, and two cousins. All four of them swore at that table that these balls of fire rolled out of the steeple of that church. And it was five or six. They said either five or six of them rolled— they didn’t set nothing on fire, but them come out of the steeple, rolled around, and, disappeared.


As told by Jackie Gentry, March, 1974

I’ll tell my version about Chapel Hill. It was one night. Peewee (Coursey) was with me, and my Uncle Bill was with me. See, my uncle, he was one of those nonbelievers, just like everybody else is before they go up there. And so he sayá, “You take me up there and show me that light, and I’ll show you there ain’t no light down there. And I’ll tell you what it is.” So we went up there, and me and Peewee and him, we got out of the car, and walked up on the tracks, and I was standing in the middle of the tracks, you know, the cross-tires, there in the middle, you know how it’s built up so a car can go across. You know, so it won’t bump it as much. I was standing right there on that, and Peewee was standing on the road, away from the tracks, with Uncle Bill. And I seen the light, and I hollered out,”Hey, look here.” So my uncle, he looked down there and he said, “Yeah, there is a light. Now tell me what it is. I said, “I don’t know.” So the light puts its show on, you know, and stuff like that, coming down the tracks, like it usually does, so it went out! And when it went out, the cross-tires that I was standing on, there was a big thump, It wasn’t nobody around to kick it or anything. It was just a big thump, and I had goose-pimples all over my body. You know, just like I was a chunk of ice. And then I turned around, and looked behind me, and right behind me, down the track, the light was down there. Like it went right through me. Down on the other end. And Peewee and them both, they heard the thump. And I still doit know what it is.

Denny: Did you feel something as it went past? Like the goosepimple thing?

Gentry: Yeah, That’s what I’m talking about. You know, I got real cold-feeling, and goose pimples went all over me. And then when I turned around, the light was right behind me.


As told by Vicky Coursey, March, 1974

There we used to livet— his old, old house— it was a legend that people had been murdered in it. It was a big mansion. And so me and my mother and my father, we went up there one day. And we got some little glass bowls and stuff out of it. And it wasn’t nothing— you know, old and smelled funny, and just gross-looking, and we left. And so that night, these two boys and their mother and father and a visitor went up there. And they went up the steps and into this room. And the room was just an average-sized room, I guess it was a bedroom or a dressing-room, and it was covered. The walls were covered with newspaper. And it was a like a model of a woman, and it had a long, real pretty dress, they said, on it. And they said they were standing there, and they were just looking around, and all-of-a-sudden blood started just dripping out of that dress. Real blood. And they just left. And as they was going down the steps, they started hearing heartbeats and footsteps, and they just left.


As told by Vicky Coursey, March, 1974

My aunt used to stay with this little girl. Her name was Janice or something. And her mother and father were sort-of strict on her. Wouldn’t let her spend the night with anybody, but if somebody wanted to stay there it’d be alright. And their house was built sort-of funny, and in her bedroom you could look right into the kitchen. And right by her bed there was an attic door. And it was bolted. It had all kinds of locks on it. You couldn’t get in. And if you was up there you couldn’t get out. And they had lost one of the keys to one of the key-locks. So they was going to have to have the key-lock cut off, or just forget about going into the attic. Well, they was laying in bed. The daddy drank. He had come in sort-of late that night, and he had went on to bed. And they was just sitting there talking and everything, and this door opened. And a few minutes later it closed again. And they got up and they looked at the locks. They was every one locked. She went and she told her father, and he didn’t believe her. So he started looking around. He checked the locks and they wouldn’t come open. He pulled at the door— hit it and hollered to see if anybody was up there. And nothing happened. So he told them to go on back to bed.

So they went back to bed, and they laid there for a few minutes, and they were scared to death. The door opened back up, and it stayed open for a few minutes, and then it closed again, and then they heard footsteps walking upstairs. So the next day, the father had something, and he cut all the locks off and everything, and went up there, and there wasn’t nothing up there. Just old boxes of clothes and rats and stuff. And they thought it was rats. But how could that door open?


As told by John Alexander, April, 1974

This story takes place in Eastern Tennessee. It involves a house which, during the Civil War, was used as a hospital. The house was vacant for several years, and someone bought the house, and it was in the later part of the fifties or early sixties. When the people moved into the house, they noticed sort of extremely unusual sounds. The sounds were occurring in one of the upper bedrooms which was used as a ward for terminal patients, or patients whose wounds were so severe they were expected to die. And there were still bloodstains on the floor that were soaked into the wood. The room itself sort-of made a groaning or moaning-type sound. You couldn’t distinguish what the sound was. It was just a weird sound of sorts. So this went on for some time. Eventually, the people decided to take the floor out of the room. When they did, the groaning stopped. They couldn’t throw the boards out of the room away for some reason. They had some inner feeling not to throw the boards away. They couldn’t throw them away. So they stacked them in the garage, and to my knowledge they’re still there.


As told by Mrs. J.T. Denny, March, 1974

… died in March. She died about three weeks before your Daddy was born.

Denny: Is that your mom?

Granny: Daddy’s mother. Grandma Denny. She wanted— I know what she wanted. She wanted to tell me something. It would have made an awful lot of difference, but I was afraid. And she wouldn’t come close to me, and when I looked up and saw her, I knew she didn’t— she made me understand she didn’t want to frighten me. But I was frightened anyway. And I hadn’t been asleep. I was a-standin’ at the kitchen stove washing the dishes. Washing the supper dishes. She stood in that doorway. Wouldn’t come close to me. Yet I had to go right to her. There was a little hallway in front of that doorway, and the door opened into the living room where Grandpa Denny and Granny Allen—you remember her. Daddy’s oldest sister. There I was in the kitchen, and she was just across that little— it was just a little box-like hallway, and the pantry door opened on this end of that little hall, and the living-room door on the other. It was just a little narrow hallway. And that would have been Granny’s room. She even had on her dress— one of her everyday dresses. She was dressed like I had seen her a thousand times. And she made herself appear as natural as possible. And it was in her face— I realized that— that she didn’t want to frighten me. If she had wanted to frighten me, the would have come right to me. I didn’t stand there no minute, or five minutes, nor no ten minutes. I thought, “My god, if I go out the back door—it was dark— and go around the house and she follows me, I’ll die” Yet if I go in yonder where the others are, I’ve got to go almost to her. There wouldn’t have been— she wouldn’t have been that far from me. And I made one step towards going into the front room, and she was gone.


II: Jump Tales



As told by Dallas Denny, February, 1974

One time there was an old man and an old lady, and they were very poor. They lived in an old shack out in the country. Most of

what they ate came from the garden , and they didn’t get to eat meat very often. They were out in the garden hoeing up some potatoes

for supper one evening, about two o’clock, three o’clock, and this old man comes across this peculiar-looking potato. He picked it up.

Looked quite a bit like a toe. A toe from a foot. The big toe. And it was black. And he examined it… had a nail on it. He thought

well, it was in the potato patch, might just be a strange potato.


He called his wife over, said, “Look here, hon.” She said, “Old man, that’s just a potato; throw it in the pot.” Well, bein’ as she was boss, that’s what he did. She took the potatoes in the house; cooked up a mess for supper. As luck would have it, the old man got the toe. And he ate it just like it was a potato. Didn’t taste too funny, so he ate it down. They sit around the house for awhile, and it got dark. They didn’t have electricity in those days, so they always went to bed early, and about seven, seven-thirty, well, they went to bed. Well, about the time they get in bed, they commenced to hearing a sound outside. Old man, he jumps up, runs out, looks out the door, don’t see nothing, comes back, gets into the bed. Well, about the time he gets into bed, they hear the sound again. Well, he decided to ignore it this time. And they’re laying there. He was a little bit scared to tell the truth, because, for one thing, this toe was kinda weighing on his conscience, Vause he really believed that’s what it was. And he heard this sound outside the door. “I’m at the front door. I want my black toe.” Well, the man and his old wife looked at each other, and they commenced to shivering and shaking, and squinched up their eyes tight shut, and it was dark anyway, but they were scared to death, afraid to run with that thing at the door. They heard the door open and close. “I want my black toe.” They heard it coming. Clomp. Clomp. It’s getting closer. “I’m in the living room. I want my black toe.” Well, they’re really shaking now; the thing’s in the house with them. Comes to the stairs. And as it goes up the stairs, each time it goes up a step it tells them, “I’m on the sixth step. I want my black toe.” Well, they’re really sweating it now.

They’re sitting there shivering and shaking, afraid to run, afraid to stay there, but they stay there, and pull the covers up tight, and hold on to each other, And it comes to the top of the steps. Tells them, “I’m on the top of the steps. I want my back toe,” Clomp. Clomp. Louder. Tells them, “I’m at the bedroom door. I want my black toe.” They hear the door open, and they hear the door shut. And it’s in the room with them, and they’re scared to death. And it says, “I’m in the bedroom. I want my black toe.” And he hears it coming. Clomp. Clomp. And it says, “I’m beside the bed. I gotcha!”



As told by Lynneda J. Denny, February, 1974

Once upon a time there was this old woman. Well, she wasn’t that old. She was my mother’s… she was at least fifty or sixty. And she just loved antiques. She was driving around and around and she saw this old house up on the hill. And she thought, “I’ll bet that old house up there has got some fine antiques. I’ll go up there and just ask the people if I can look around. I’m sure they won’t mind.” So she started driving up there and she realized it was on top of a little mountain. And had a winding, circular driveway going all the way up the mountain toward the house. So she just kept driving, and driving, and about the time she got up there, she ran out of gas. She thought, “Well, that’s okay; I’ll just call a gas station while I’m in the house.”

She went up to the door, and she knocked on the door: thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk. This weird-looking guy answered the call. “Good evening.” She said, “Well, I’m just looking around. I’m an antique dealer, and I just was wondering if you’d mind if I came in and looked around at your antiques, and beside that, I’m out of gas, and I need to call a gas station.” Then he says, “Just a moment; I’ll get the master.” So he calls upon the master, and the master comes out. Agrees, Sure, he’ll show her around where she wants to go, except… one room, down in the basement. He won’t let her go there. She says, “That’s okay. I’ll agree with that.”

And, shows her all around the house, and everything. Found out he didn’t have a telephone, so she’d have to spend the night there.

She was shown everyplace except the one place in the basement. And they were down in the basement, and she said, “Listen, just open this door for me. Okay?” And he said, “No, Lady, I promised I’d show you all around except this one room in the basement, and I can’t show you this room in the basement; I’m sorry. I just can’t do it.” She says, “I’m an antique dealer and a curiosity buff; I’ve just gotta know what’s going on. Just please show me.” He said, “No, Lady, I just cannot do it.” So she just kept begging, and begging, and finally he said okay. “I’ll open the door, and that’s as far as I’m going.” So he fidgeted around on the key chain… ‘course you could tell which one it was, ’cause it was a big old key and a great big old lock, and you just put two and two together, and you knew that’s what it had to be, so finally he opened up the lock. Unbolted it, and right behind that door was another door. So she said, “Ah! I just have to know what’s behind this door. Now that’s not very fair, just to get me this far and not show me behind this door.”

And he says, “No, lady, I’ve already shown you too much now. Let’s go back upstairs.” She said, “Please, please. Just show me what’s behind this next door. So he says, “Okay, I’ll show you what’s behind this next door.” So he unbolted and unlocked the next door, and behind that door was a tunnel. She begged him, “Please, please just take me down that tunnel. Please, just take me down that tunnel.” At first he wouldn’t do it; finally he said, “Well, okay’ But you gotta keep your head low, ’cause it’s an old tunnel; nobody’s been down this tunnel in a long time. it’s kinda slimy. So they started crawling through the tunnel, and sure enough, it’s all slimy and messy, and everything, and she’s gotta walk down on her hands and knees, but boy, is it ever worth it, because at the end of that tunnel is this great, big, huge, solid green door. And she’s just dying of curiosity; she just has to know what’s behind that green door. So she begs and she pleads and she pleads and she begs, and he says, “Lady, I can’t show you what’s behind this door because, to tell you the truth, behind this door… behind that big, green door is a big, green monster.” And she says, “A monster! You just have to show me that monster!” And she started begging end pleading with the man to please! Just one glance at the monster. So he says, “Okay. One glance at the monster. But listen! He obeys to my call, and my call only, and don’t get too close to him, because if you touch him … well, just forget it, lady. Just don’t touch him. Okay? Just promise me you won’t touch him.” And she says, “Okay, I won’t touch him. I won’t touch him.” So he opens the door, and there’s the green monster. He’s all chained to the wall. He’s kind of sleepy; it’s kind of late at night. And he’s going, “Snarf! Grrrrr! Snore!” And snorting a little bit of smoke and everything; not too much fire. And she just passes out on him. And the next thing she knew, she was upstairs in one of the beds. And he said, See, lady? See what happens? Now you just sleep tonight, and then tomorrow morning we’ll get you some gas. We’ll let you go home.” So she says, “Okay.”

She’s trying to go to sleep, but she just couldn’t go to sleep. She kept thinking, “Now, why can’t I touch that monster? What is wrong? Why can’t I touch that monster?” And she batted it around for a while. Well, I could go downstairs, and sneak downstairs, and he’d never know the difference. Oh, but what if I got caught? What would he do to me? I mean— a person with a monster. What kind of person is that?” Finally, she decided her curiosity had the better of her and she snuck downstairs and she opened up the first door, and she opened up the second door, and she sneaked right through that tunnel, with all the slime and guck all over it, and she came to that final door, and took a big deep breath, and she lifted the bar off of it and opened the door. Monster was almost asleep and just kind of “Snarl! Grrrrr!t” Snorting a little bit of smoke here and there, once in a while; wasn’t being particularly rowdy with his chains, so she snuck up to him and she touched him.

She stood there for a while, and nothing happened, be just sat there. So she closed the door real fast, and she ran through the tunnel real fast, and she closed the second door, and she closed the first door, and she ran upstairs and she ran into her bedroom, and she decided to go to sleep, and she heard something. And it sounded like something breaking chains loose from the wall. And then it sounded like a door being knocked down. Then It sounded like somebody sloshing through an old greasy tunnel. And then it sounded like somebody knocking down another door. And another door. And coming up the basement steps. Thump, thump, thump. Sounded like somebody was already up to the landing. Somebody was starting upstairs. Thump, thump, thump. Before long, they were up to the top of the stairs, and it sounded like they were coming down the hail. Toward her room. Thump, thump, thump. It finally came to the door, and opened it, and she saw— there he was, the big green monster. And she was backing up against the backboard of the bed. She didn’t know what that monster was going to do, and it kept walking toward her, and walking toward her, and walking toward her, and finally came to her, touched her, and said, “You’re it!”



As told by Dallas Denny, February, 1974

Once upon a time, a fellow went to a party, and everybody was having a good time, and this guy mentioned that he had a blue gorilla, and they said, “You don’t have a blue gorilla!”

“Yeah, I have a blue gorilla.” “You don’t have a blue gorilla!”

“Yeah, I have a blue gorilla.” So, he makes a bet with these people to prove he has a blue gorilla. He says, “Okay, now I’m going to show you this blue gorilla, except don’t touch him! Whatever happens, don’t touch the blue gorilla.” So everybody goes into the room, and here’s this blue gorilla there asleep. And he keeps everybody back from touching him. And they say, “That’s very interesting.” And they go back and pay him his money. Pretty soon everybody’s dozing off, going to sleep, or drunk, this one fellow says,, “Now, I wonder why you can’t touch the blue gorilla?” Says, “I’m going to touch him.” And he goes sneaking back down into the basement where the gorilla is, and walks up to the gorilla, and he touches him. The gorilla jumps up and starts snarling, and runs after him, and this guy runs up the steps, the gorilla’s still coming. Chases him out of the house, down on the sidewalk. He runs and he rune, and he runs to the edge of town, and he keeps right on running, and that gorilla’s right after him. And he’s about four miles out of town, and he’s run so much, and he can’t run any more, and he trips and he falls, but he can’t get up, and the gorilla’s coming. And he’s laying there, Just shaking with fright, and the gorilla comes up, and says, gets right in front of him, and says, “You’re it!”



As told by Jackie Gentry, March, 1974

Denny: Have any of you heard the story about the golden arm?

Gentry: I have.

D.: Who told it to you?

G.: Wait a minute. I don’t remember all of it.

D.: Well, just what you remember. Who told it to you?

G. It’s been a long time. I don’t even know the ending of it. I can’t remember that golden arm bit. It was something about a woman had her arm cut off, and her husband, after she died, they buried her, and— you’re not taping this or nothing, are you?

D.: Uh-uh.

G.: Well, anyway. Let me try to think of it, and then I’ll tell you.

D.: Alright.

G.: So she died, and they buried her. So her husband, who drank a lot and he gambled, and they was pretty wealthy people at the time, and when she got her arm cut off, she said that she was ruint for life; that she couldn’t go to no parties or nothing like that because she would look odd. But then she thought, “Who has got a golden arm?” You know,. that would really impress somebody. So she had a golden arm made to put on her nub. After she had the arm put on her, they went to a bunch of parties and stuff like that. Her husband had met this purty woman, that he fell in love with. So he was going to get rid of the woman with the golden arm. So he killed her. And they buried her. Had a funeral, and stuff like that. And then the other lady and her husband got married. And they was living in her house.

So her husband drank and gambled a lot, the woman, she spent the money, all they had, so they got broke, where they didn’t have nothing else. So her husband remembered of her golden arm. So he went out ad he dug her up, and he stole the golden arm. And he covered bar back up, and he went and be melted down her arm, and started making gold chunks out it where he could spend it and stuff like that. So one night after they went to bed, they heard something at the door. Heard the door open. Close. And they heard steps— footsteps on the stairs. Sounded like it was real far away, somehow. And it got on a little bit closer, and said, “Who stole my golden arm?” Closer. “Who stole my golden arm?” And that’s where I forget the story. I can’t remember how it ends. She goes in, and “Did you steal my golden arm?”



As told by Lynneda J. Denny, February, 1974

There was this motel. And a man stopped at this motel, and he needed a room. And the manager said, “Well, listen. Uh— I’m full up.” And the guy says, “I gotta have a place to sleep.”

“Well, listen. I’m all full up except…” And says, “Except what?” And he said, “Well, except for room thirteen, and it’s haunted.” And he said, “Well, listen. Do you think I’m superstitious? I’m not superstitious. Let me have the room. I need a place to sleep. I’m tired. I’m exhausted. I have to have a place to sleep.” He said,, “Okay, you do so at your own risk.”

That night, at twelve o’clock. “I am the ghost of the bloody finger!” “I am the ghost of the bloody finger!” “I AM THE GHOST

OF THE BLOODY FINGER!” The next morning, an ambulance was seen, picking the guy up, and taking him to the hospital. This had scared him almost to death. Well, news got out about this strange thirteenth room, and several people came, and tried to stay, and were taken away by the ambulance. And finally, even Marilyn Monroe came by to see it. This was back when Marilyn was alive. Marilyn Monroe came by, and she just had “to have a place to sleep, dahling,” and so they let her sleep there, and she just about died of fright, too. Finally, this old beatnick came by and wanted a room. And he said, “Man, like man, I just gotta have a room, man. Just gotta have a room.” The guy says, “Well, uh, I hope you realize the only room I have is room thirteen, because, you see, this is such a popular place because of the famous room thirteen.” “Like man, I’m not afraid of nobody. Like, there’s nothing to be afraid of, man. Like, I ain’t scared of nothing, okay?” Says, “Well, okay. You do so at your own risk.” And so he takes room thirteen, and that night, he hears, “I am the ghost of the bloody finger!” “I AN THE GHOST OF THE BLOODY FINGER!” And he sits up in bed, and he looks around, and he says, “What?” Says, “I AM THE GHOST OF THE BLOODY FINGER!” Says, “Like, hey, man, get a band-aid.”





As told by Vicky Coursey, March, 1974

Okay. There was this family, and they lived in this little old shack ‘way up in,the woods. And it was getting late. You had to go out on the front porch to cut the light out, so the man went out to cut it out, and he goes, “Rawhide and bloody bones!” And he run back in, and goes, : Oh, my god! It’s something out there. I’m not going out there no more.” So the wife went out, you know. She went to cut it out, and he goes, “Rawhide and bloody bones!” And she ran back in. And she says, “Oh, my god! We’d better call the police. Better go get the police or something.” So the little boy says, “Oh, I can’t believe ya’ll are scared.” So he went out to turn out the light, and he reached up, and something goes, “Rawhide and bloody bones!” And he goes, “Oh, rawhide and bloody bones yourself!”


As told by Dallas Denny, February, 1974

One time, was this fellow was dared to spend the night in a haunted house, and he did. And he was down in the living room, in the parlor, and he hears this noise upstairs. “It floats! It floats!” And he says, “What floats” “Ivory soap floats.”


As told by Mr. Ed White February, 1974

My daddy told me this one. This happened when he was a boy. Seems that they had this haunted house, and they’d offer people three or four hundred dollars to spend the night, but no one would. One night they got this man about half drunk, and got him to stay. Well, the next morning they came out, and he was gone. Was a big old hole in the wall. And, well, they couldn’t find him anywhere, so they got the bloodhounds out, spent three days searching for him, and finally they found him walking back. They said, ‘Hey, fella, where you been” “I don’t know where I been, boss, but I been comin’ back for three days.”


As told by Tanya Denny, February, 1974

There was this boy, and he was walking through these woods. And all of a sudden he heard something open. And then he heard something close. And then he heard some kind of dragging noise, like it was coming after him. So the boy ran, and he still heard it, and he ran, and he still heard it. Seemed like it was following him, so he ran and he ran and he ran. Finally, he came to this old church. So he opened the door, and closed the door, and he sat there for a minute, and he was just listening. And it sounded like it was still coming towards him. So, sounded like a coffin.

So. He pulled out a cough drop, took it, and the coffin stopped.


As told by Donna Denny, February, 1974

There was this boy, and he was walking by this graveyard. And he was walking by this grave, and this grave opened up, and out came a coffin. And it scared him, so he started to run, and he ran, and he ran, and the coffin kept on after him. And he ran, and finally he ran into this church, and he was hiding under the pew, and here came that coffin, and be thought, and he reached in his pocket, and he pulled out a cough drop, and the coffin went away.


As told by James Coursey, March, 1974

Hey, Dallas, do you know what you get when you goose a ghost? A handful of sheet.




As told by Randy Medley February, 1974

This true story that I’m about to tell you about is about a young couple that were dating in high school that lived in Decatur, Alabama. They were out parking one night, and they started necking, and all of a sudden they heard something outside. And there was a legend about this place that the farmer was killing— still killing people that trespassed on his property, but this guy didn’t believe in superstitions, and ghost stories, and all this sort of racket. But he went outside, and he looked to see what was going on, and be told his girl friend before he left that she shouldn’t, you know, go outside for any reason. That she should leave the doors locked, and don’t unlock them for anybody. And so, he thought it was just somebody— some of their friends pestering them or something. So she just sit in the car, and so she waited an hour, two hours, three hours, and four, and be didn’t come back, and it was getting pretty late, so she fell asleep, and she was woken up in the middle of the night by a clicking sound, but she couldn’t figure out what it was, so she went on back to sleep, and the next morning she heard a knocking on the window, and she’ looked up and it was a police officer, and she unlocked the door, and so he got in, and he says:, “Whatever you do, don’t look up.” You know, look up to the sky. And so he brought her out of the car, and then she looked up, and she saw her boyfriend hanging by his legs from a tree, and his body was swaying back and forth from the wind, and his senior class ring was hitting the top of the car, and that’s what was making that click sound.



As told by Dallas Denny, February, 1974

Now this is called “The Hookman,” and it took place in Percy Warner Park in Nashville, and I would set the date about ten years ago. This is an actual happening. The park’s closed at night, and there’s a very good reason, because there’s this crazy character, called the Hookman. And he has no hands, but he has Hooks on them. And when this incident happened, there was a boy and a girl, and they were going parking. And they were going into the park late at night. And they were in the car. Heard a noise, and the boy told the girl, “Stay in the car at all costs; I’m going to see what happens.” He got out of the car. And there was silence. Then she heard a struggle, and then she heard her boyfriend scream. And she locked the doors on the car, and she was shaking. And some time passed… She heard something brushing against the car. And then it broke the window on the driver’s side— the front window. And she screamed. She knew it was going to get her. And they found her the next morning. Her hair had turned white, and she had gone completely crazy.


As told by James Coursey, March, 1974

There was this boy and girl supposedly out parking somewhere in Nashville, and the boy got ready to leave, and he had had his radio on, for romantic music, or something, I guess, and it had gone dead— the battery. So he went to get some help, and the girl was real scared, so she rolled up her windows, and locked the doors, and sat back and everything, and she had dozed off, while she was waiting, and she woke up, and beard this thump, thump, thump. And this scared her. And she was real scared. So after a while, she saw these blue lights, and she knew the police was coming, and she said, “Well, I’m safe now.” And the police come up, and got her out of the car, and she said that she was really scared— that something had been bothering her. And they said, well, they’d rather not talk about it, and she said, “Why?” And be said, “Well, do you know this?” And there was this boy, that, they said, had been hung up, and he was all cut up and bleeding, and that was his foot that had been thumping on top of the car.


As told by James Coursey, March, 1974

I’ll tell about Chapel Hill. There was this train going down, and you know how the— I guess the coalman, or the guy on the loco­motive swings a lantern when he’s ready to move the train. Well, there’s a depot not far from here. The train stopped to, you know, swap rails and stuff. And this coachman was out there with this lantern, swinging it, and all-of-a-sudden this train comes by and squish— there goes the old head. So, now, they say, at night, you can see a light swinging back aid forth, and it comes fast or slow. It comes farther away, then closer, and closer, and closer, and closer, until it’s right up on you, and you can see this, and you can chase it, and you can follow it. People have shot at it, and screamed at it, and chased it and everything. They say it’s this coachman, hunting for his head with the lantern. And there was these people, supposed to be chasing it, and he ran them off a cliff, and they fell down, and killed theirself. And there’s this other one, about four boys were down there, and the light got right on top of the car, shining, all around the car, and it was supposed to be on the roof, and the car tried to move, but it couldn’t go, and they kept building the engine higher, and gunning it, and finally, they heard a big thump, like that, and the car took off, and they stopped at the next gas station, and there was scratch marks right down the back of the car.



As told by James Coursey, March, 1974

Coursey: Have you heard the one about the bible that gets heavier and heavier? And different people try to steal it?

Denny: I heard that it’s not far from Chapel Hill.

C.: Yeah.

D.: What have you heard about it?

C.: Well there’s this bible that’s in the chapel. And it’s not really a real large bible, but it’s a family-type bible with the larger verses. And they say that if you try to steal it, there is no way you can. They say it either gets heavier and heavier, and heavier, and you can’t get out the door with it, and four college students got in one day and grabbed it, and were able to get it into the car, and they went tearing off down the highway, and they met with a real bad accident, and two of them were killed. And the two of them that lived later went back, and the bible had somehow gotten out of the trunk of the car and back in that church.


As told by Dallas Denny and Jackie Gentry, March, 1974

Denny: Some fellow was telling me about this place in Georgia where they hung this black man. And he said, “I’m innocent! I’m innocent!” And they hung him anyway, and he said, last thing that he said was, “I’ll be back!” And one of the windows in the courthouse has his face in it. And they’ve changed the pane, and his face just keeps coming back.

Gentry: I’ve heard that. I’ve heard about it, but I didn’t know where it was at or nothing.

Denny: I heard it was in Georgia.

Gentry: I’ve heard they’ve broken the window and taken it out, and no sooner than they do it, his face’ll appear right back in there.

Denny: Yeah.


As told by Mrs. Jackie Gentry, March, 1974

Did anybody ever tell you about Superstition mountain? In Arizona? It’s in Phoenix. On this side of Phoenix. If you’re going east you pass it. And they say that there ws this old Dutchman up there once, and be found a whole lot of gold in this gold mine. But he never did come down or anything, and when people found out that there was gold up there— anybody that went up there looking for it, they would never come back down out of the mountain. And they had sent newsmen and reporters and excavators— different people up there at different times, and they never found the gold, and they never found the men that had gone up there looking for it. But everybody goes up there, they don’t come back.


As told by Dallas Denny, February, 1974

I heard a story about one time there was this fellow that went to sleep under a tree, and , in his yard, you know, with his head up against the tree, and he woke up, and went around his business, and he started going crazy. And they were locking him up, and one day he fell and cut his head, and there was a whole ant colony in his head.


As told by Vicky Coursey, March, 1974

This is true. It was the Granny White mansion. Over on Granny White Pike. It was an old man and an old woman lived there a long, long time ago. It was when they didn’t have running water. They had to dip the water out of the well. And it had the thing where you twirled it and the bucket went down. And they told everybody they had a big sign around it saying “Condemned. Don’t go in. Danger.” And all this. And nobody believed it, so all ‘these boys went into it. And they was looking around the well, and this— they said that it was supposed to be like a strong force trying to pull them in the well. And one boy got pulled down in there and drowned.