Ghost Story – Northern California

“A couple years back, there was a Janitor who also acted as the camp’s grounds keeper, who worked at the camp. He kind of worked behind the scenes and no one really talked to him. His name was Earl Henry. He mostly kept to himself. He was not very old, most likely in his mid – 50s and to the staffs knowledge he did not have any family, or at least that he talked about. One day while Earl was working in the forest chopping wood, he accidentally cut off his right hand and in all his pain and agony he did not see where it fell in the bush. He immediately raced back to the camp to seek help from the medical staff. When he went back to look for his hand, he could not find it anywhere; just the dried pools of blood from earlier. With the loss of his hand, Earl was unable to perform his duty as the grounds keep and so the camp director was forced to let him go. Earl lived on the campgrounds and had spent the last 20 years working there. He had no family to speak of and no place to go. As hard as he tried to fight the camp directors decision, in the end he was forced to leave. A couple days later, the camp director went missing mysteriously. And as the weeks progressed strange things around the camp started happening that the staff could not explain. Another week passed and two more counselors went missing. The only clue to there disappearance was a trail of blood and what looked like a bloody right hand print leading back to the big tunnel that goes underneath the highway to the coast. Many people came to believe that the thing killing the counselors and causing all the problems around the camp was Earl’s right hand that was never found and that it lived somewhere in the tunnel going underneath the highway. So don’t go over to the tunnel by yourself because Earl’s hand may get you.”

Kyle told me that when he was in fourth grade, his parents sent him to the a summer camp called the “Lair of the Golden Bear.” He said that he had to have been about 10 years old. The fist night that he was there, they had a campfire for all the campers and told them this story about Earl’s severed hand. In looking back, Kyle believes that they told the little kids the story to keep them from going to the tunnel and the coast by themselves and also to keep them from going to the highway. He does not necessarily believe that the story is true now that he is older, however he told me that, “It scared the shit out of him” when he was only in the fourth grade and heard this story.

Again, I find it interesting that the ghost story has been adapted to serve a functional purpose such as scaring the kids away from going toward the tunnel under the highway. Kyle openly admits that the version he told me is not quite the same from the one he heard at camp and he did his best to embellish some of the details to try and make it scarier. Over all, I feel like this technique of using a tale or ghost story to convey a lesson to someone is very effective. Especially in Kyle’s situation, instead of trying to tell the kids what not to do and having the kids go on and break that rule, they conveyed the message in a medium that they new would be extremely effective in getting their desired message across.

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