Nationality: United States of America
Occupation: VP, Renewables Engie Solar
Residence: Kansas City, MO
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/26/20
Primary Language: English
“The Pine Grove Spiritualist campground is where my dad lives in the summer and my grandma lived during summers when I was a little kid and its located in Niantic, Connecticut which is a small town kinda south-central on the water in Connecticut and the spiritualist campground is a small cluster of homes located on a point, so there’s only one road heading in or out of town, and it’s maybe 100 or 200 houses on this point and when you come in this one road from out of town, it says “Spiritualist Campground” and it looks like its from the 1800s or early 1900s so as soon as you come to this town you think what is this? And it’s a small enough town that a lot of times people just walk around for entertainment and I would walk around with my cousins and kinda tucked away in the corner of the woods is a building. That building is where the spiritualist still have meetings and I didn’t know much about spiritualism and what it meant when I was a kid but apparently it’s a religion and in that cluster of houses, there are maybe a dozen of families who practice spiritualism and they would meet periodically in this temple, which was this building, to have discussions. We didn’t know what they were meeting about so on a few of this walks, generally we would avoid the temple because it was kinda dark and it was creepy, but on some walks we’d go close to it and one night we dared my oldest cousin to look in the window of the temple because they were having a meeting so it was at night and he looked to the window and came running back and he said they were walking on the walls and ceiling sin there, it was crazy. I never went or looked or anything like that- I didn’t want to, but that’s the story of the Spiritualist campground.”
My informant is a man in his early 50s originally from Hartford, Connecticut. He lived there through his teens and had extended family in the nearby areas. As stated above, his father had a summer home in a former spiritualist camp now known as Pine Grove. Spiritualism is a religion that believes in a spiritual realm where the spirits of those have passed are located. Furthermore, it was practiced heavily in New England in the 1800s, which would make sense for the creation of this neighborhood.
My informant told me about this story when I was asking a group of family and friends about scary stories or legends from their childhood. He told the story in front of the group and I recorded it during that telling.
I think the inspiration for this story comes from the lack of in-depth understanding of the outside present in childhood. As mentioned in the piece, the informant got the information for this story from his cousins, and never explicitly saw any of the supposed supernatural. This shows that the story surrounding the spiritualist temple shows who is in the community created by these children and who is not. Another major factor for this story is the development of folklore to explain an unknown. As mentioned by the informant, as a child he did not comprehend what spiritualism was. Except, he saw the sign and the temple, both of which can be perceived as ominous. As such, the rationale for explaining something as complex as the religion of spiritualism, the informant invented this story of their strange ceremony using what knowledge he did have about them to help himself better understand. I also think this piece is particularly interesting as it reflects the history of spiritualism in that area, and how it developed over time.