Tag Archives: war

Richmond ghost story

Content:

D: So growing up, you know, I moved into that house when I was five years old. And so it was just became knowledge that there was something else in the house with us, but we were never taught to be afraid of it. And we were never, it never really scared us. It never really gave us, you know, an evil feel to it.

Me: Where was this house?

D: Richmond, Virginia. 

Me: Okay. What did you know about the ghost?

D: Well, I never saw a visual of him, but my mom saw him twice. And he was a dark headed man in a uniform, a soldier type uniform. And our house was built over an old battlefield, old battleground for the revolutionary war. And so we always felt like he was a soldier that died young and he seemed to be most active when the three of us kids were living in the house. And once we grew up and moved out the activity decreased. So Mom always felt like he either connected with people closer to his age or, um, felt like he died too soon and you know, was looking for something. She just felt like he was kind of watching over us to some, some degree.

Me: So when you say that you had experiences with him, what were those like?

D: Um, a lot of things. The, the one thing that most people experienced in and outside of our family, um, is that we would be sitting in the living room watching TV or talking or whatever, and we would hear the front door open and close and back then, you know, people didn’t knock to come in if they were family or neighbors or whatever, they would just kind of open the door and just kind of holler, “Hey, it’s me,” you know, as they were coming into the house and we would all hear the door open and close and the dog would bark and run to the French doors and look out onto the sun porch, which was what our front door came into, and the dog would stand there and wait. And we’d all look towards the French doors to see who was, you know, coming over to visit and nobody would come through and we’d get up and look, and the front door would be locked and there would be nobody there. And that happened multiple times and people that were not in our immediate family heard and experienced that. But then I also experienced cold spots most often. And the house didn’t, the house didn’t have central air. It only had heat. And we had one window unit in the living room and one small window unit in my parents’ bedroom and we didn’t turn it on during the day when we weren’t there. We wouldn’t even turn it on until after four o’clock in the afternoons when we would get home from school and work and stuff. So the house was always really hot, especially, you know, in the, you know, late afternoon, early evenings until the, the air could cool it down. And even with the house being that hot, there would be a significant temperature change and it would be something that you could stick your hand in and pull back out and feel the temperature change. That happened to me a lot. So, I mean, that was, it, it almost became, you know, like a family thing to exchange, you know, your experiences and stuff like that.

Background: D was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1963. This story revolves around the house she grew up in with her parents and brothers. 

Context: This story was told to me over a phone call. Analysis: D’s story connected her family’s ghost to the haunted battlegrounds of Revolutionary War and Civil War era Virginia. The experiences that she had with the ghost are common in ghost stories as well, such as the feeling of cold spots when in the presence of a spirit. Many ghost stories also rely on the reactions of pets to support a supernatural claim, like D does when mentioning how her dog reacted to hearing the door open while no one was there.

The Soldier and the drum music

Background: The informant explained that this is a first hand experience. It happened when he moved to a new city as a young boy, decades ago. Prior to this experience, he had never heard of the legend associated with the appearance of  the ghost of a soldier that appears in the spot that he was killed, haunting and torturing the ones that enter his territory. It affected the informant in his daily life all his childhood as he was always scared to walk through alleys. However, over time, it became a fainted memory and had forgotten about it until he was asked to share his experience.   

KV: I can’t remember the year, uh, I think it was maybe 1957 or 1958. We lived in Florina and that year we moved to Thessaloniki. Because my parents wanted to live in a big city for work and there was no school for me, only elementary, had to move to a big city to go to high school. So we moved to Egnatia Road , I think , yes, I remember it was 386 Egnatia Street.

I liked it, first time I saw it,  because it, there was an ice cream place and we where above it. The first night I fought with my sisters. I wanted the bedroom that looked at the alley. It was bigger and quieter. Then, my mother got mad and I , I always got mad at my sisters.  I didn’t , I couldn’t sleep and went back to the kitchen and asked my mother about the room again. And everyone was upset and my sisters screaming. And suddenly we saw the door , the kitchen door opening, and a man with torn clothes, he was dressed like fandaros (soldier) and bleeding, I think the bleeding was coming from a head wound, I think, appeared, and he, his eyes were, I don’t know how to describe them. He was like a wild animal. And my mother asked us to make our cross, and pray and we saw him moving but couldn’t hear his footsteps. And we didn’t hear the door opening before either, just saw it. I froze and couldn’t move. And I couldn’t talk and my heart was beating fast. 

I felt a sudden wind and the lamp , you know we had an oil lamp in the kitchen table at night those days, and there was no flame anymore. I don’t know , maybe it was the wind. I couldn’t see anything but I could hear music, drums, like a drums’ band playing in the alley.  But my mother was brave and she grabbed the lamp and lit it again. And the man was not there any more. But when we got to the balcony to see if someone was there , the kitchen had a balcony that faced the alley, we saw a young boy laying on the floor, in the alley and foam was coming out of this mouth and the wind was still blowing. And we saw the fandaro leading the drums’ band  and stepping over the young boy. We closed the windows and we left the house at night. We walked for hours, we had no car and that late there was no bus. We stayed in a friend’s home and when our father picked us up the next day, he was still in Florina the night before, we told him everything. 

Me:Did you ever find out if something had happened before in that alley?  

KV: Later we found from,  that on that alley many soldiers had lost their lives during the war, World War II, I think in 1940. And legend has it that whoever passes , the ghost of the soldier who was playing the drums, the leader of the drums band,  killed on that alley, attacks whoever passes after midnight and paralyses the right side of their face, that’s were the enemy bullet first hit him.

Me: Why do you think that the soldier entered your home: 

KV: The fighting. Maybe the fighting, the loud voices. And these apartments, our apartment was build , I mean it was new. It was build on the battlefield grounds. The voices, because we were fighting , maybe it  was reminiscent of the aggressive sounds of the enemy. 

Me: Do you know what happened to the young boy you saw that night? 

The boy we saw that night passing the alley, he was paralyzed and still lives today, and the doctors couldn’t do anything to fix it. Because they couldn’t find anything wrong with him. And his parents tried and took him to many doctors. And the boy was fine and healthy till be entered the alley that night. Couldn’t find what caused it, I mean. And the boy couldn’t talk. He is mute but no one can explain it.

Me: Do you think many people believe in the existence of the deceased soldier and his malevolent attacks in the alley?

KV:  Older people do. Because many things have happened. And many people who lived there saw things too and many accidents in that alley.  And the rumors spread and many mouths opened , and spoke of unheard things. Things that cannot be explained.  And the people that saw and heard these things are not delusional. Especially the drummer band, many people have seen the drummer band and fainted images of soldiers. Yes, they believe. But the young ones,  they don’t now. They are skeptical. They say they  don’t believe but avoid the alley. And they laugh sometimes and I think  because the alley, the alley is not  the same any more. Many stores, street lights and drugs . They don’t think it’s a ghost, they say but they are not sure. And the lights have , aren’t really ghost friendly. And deaths , sudden, it can be, I mean you can not be sure when there are drugs involved. But older people , they do believe. 

Context: This piece was collected via an in person meeting

Thoughts: It is interesting that many sites that where in the past the ground of battlefields  have developed their own legends. The informant having a personal experience, confirm that the legend of the drummer soldier and the haunted alley is not perpetuated just by the people who lived there in the past, possibly used by locals in modern times trying to create a story to attract more business to local restaurants and hotels. Since the informant stated that there have been many older witnesses that have attested to the presence of the soldier on the haunted alley and the sounds of music (drums) in the past, their similar personal experiences support  the idea that the legend could be true and not fabricated or made up by people. The medically unexplainable paralysis of the right side of the boy’s face that night when entering the alley , also makes the narration of this experience more powerful and validate to some extent the informant’s statements.  Even up to this day with medical advances, there is no physical indication as to why it happened. And his comment about the city lights on the alley makes me think if in their absence, the appearance of the deceased soldier and his band  and the activity in the alley would had continued to be as evident to more people now as it did decades ago. Maybe darkness is where they belong and thus, they prefer appearing in a world more similar to theirs, where they remain invisible, intangible and ephemeral. Perhaps during a power outage, one could investigate any activity related to the legend. The only question that still remains in my mind however is “ who will dare to cross the alley after midnight?” 

Armenian Donkey Laser

[Translated from Armenian] When the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite, the whole world was on scared about the type of technology the country had. One day the Armenian general heard that Turkish forces were planning some kind of attack on the Armenian border (which was a part of the USSR). The area have enough troops stationed there, and reinforcements would have taken days to arrive. Armenian is known for its mountains, and the general had the idea to strap a donkey with a bunch of flashlights and use it as a way to trick the Turks. That night, soldiers taped a bunch of flashlights on a donkey, and kicks the donkey in the rear on top of a mountain near the border. The donkey started running  down the mountain kicking around from being startled, which made the flashlights swing around everywhere. The Turkish forces at the bottom of the mountain see something unusual approaching them. Not knowing what it was, they feared it was some sort of advanced Soviet war laser and retreated from the border, not realizing it was just a donkey.

Context: This was story the informant heard from his father, who heard during his time in soviet army 

Analysis: This story parallels a Persian war story I have collected (see Nader Shah – 10,000 Goats), however this version takes place hundreds of years after the Iranian one. In both versions animals (goats/donkey) were used to outsmart and scare enemy forces from an attack using elements of light (fire/flashlights) in dark settings. Being that Iran and Armenia are neighbors, it is not unlikely a story like this would be shared between cultures and adapted for their own use. Initially I believed the Armenian version was possibly true, because it sounded plausible and I was biased. But, having heard two different variants of a similar plot, I’m dubious as to whether the events in either legend are true.

Nader Shah – 10,000 Goats

Nader Shah was a very powerful Persian ruler… One day heard news that a large number of enemy forces were preparing to attack one of towns. He knew he couldn’t get enough troops over there in time. So that night, he ordered all the farmers to gather 10,000 goats. He then had the farmers light their livestock’s horns on fire and direct them toward the enemy forces. The attackers saw from distance what seemed like a massive army approaching their camp, but they didn’t realize that it was just a bunch of goats. Fearing for their lives, they ran away, and the town was saved.

Context: Informant was born in Iran, and insists this story was an actual historical event.

Analysis: This story parallels another Armenian war story  I have heard (see Armenian Donkey Laser), although this version takes place hundreds of years before the other one. In both versions different animals motifs (goats/donkey) were used to outsmart and scare enemy forces from an attack using light motifs (fire/flashlights). Being that Iran and Armenia are neighbors, it is not unlikely a story like this would be shared between cultures and adapted for their own use. Initially I believed the Armenian version was possibly true, because it sounded plausible and I was biased. But, having heard two different variants of a similar plot, I’m dubious as to whether the events in either legend are true.

Stick Ball

Main Piece: 

Informant: One of the games our Choctaw people play is called “ishtaboli,” also known as stickball. While it is a game, the name is roughly translated into “little brother of war” because we would often play this game between tribal communities to settle disputes.

Interviewer: What was the game like:

Informant: It is played with each player having 2 “kabocca’s” or sticks. There is a webbing on the end, similar to modern day lacrosse sticks. Long ago, we would play these games between tribal communities, which may be 3-5 miles apart. Each community would have a tall pole in the center of their village and the winner would be the first team to throw a small leather ball and hit the pole. 

Interviewer: 5 miles apart!!! That’s a long way!

Charles: Yes, and sometimes the game would go for days until someone scored. Many tribes had similar games, but this is how the Choctaw played.

Background:

The informant is a Choctaw man in his early 50’s. He was born in Texas and grew up in Oklahoma. He currently resides in Tennessee with his wife and children.

Context:

During the Covid-19 Pandemic I flew back home to Tennessee to stay with my family. The informant is my father. My dad and I decided to have cigars in the back yard and I asked if he could share a few stories regarding our Native culture. I’ve grown up learning about these many traditions but asked him to explain them as if sharing with someone unfamiliar with the culture.

Thoughts: 

In a way, it is reminiscent of the world olympics and how sports can be used to bring people together. Stickball allowed an outlet to settle disputes without turning toward bloodshed. There was still warfare amongst indigenous people groups, so reality played was not as idealistic; but it was a model to strive for. It is interesting to see how integral sports have been to culture and society in its many variations. Lacrosse finds its origins in the Native American game of stickball.