September 27, 2012

In and Out of the Quad-Cities – Halloween!

Contributed by Gail McPike and Toni Hall

Fannie Solomon, the Ghost and the Wedding Ring – A Halloween Tale

It’s October. The beautiful foliage is splashed with color, and bountiful harvest cornucopias overflow with golden grains. But, as we twist and turn our way through the month, many of us will take a wrong turn. We’ll venture down a misty, dark alleyway, sensing something strange in the air. Straining our eyes to see through the flowing gray, we catch the shadow of a black cat zipping across our path from a recess in the darkness. Suddenly, we realize Halloween looms before us.

With Halloween comes a smoky caldron of witches, warlocks, werewolves, zombies, and spooks. In some parts of the world, Halloween is considered the “Day of the Dead,” which is not to be confused with the George Romero movie where a small Colorado town is overrun by brain-hungry zombies. The former is likely to be part of a religious celebration, while the latter is typically celebrated at some drive-in theater.

We’re not sure how we managed to get onto the whole drive-in theatre thing, but if ever there was a season for ghost stories, Halloween would be front and center. With this little tidbit in mind, we decided it might be a good time for a couple of ghost stories of our own. So, put on your bravest face and brace yourself for a journey into the unknown. And, to steal from the scariest TV Show of all time: “Unlock the door with the key of imagination. Beyond is another dimension – a dimension of sound, sight, and mind. You’re moving into a land of shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Okie Zone.”

To the set the stage, traditionally ghosts are the spirit of a deceased person or animal that can manifest itself in some form to the living. Descriptions of events vary widely (as we’ll demonstrate) and range from the subtle to the vivid. According to our in-house expert and Current Trophy Husband, Frank, who spent a great deal of his childhood reading Edgar Allen Poe, ghosts lack the ability to turn on the TV or stereo, so they have to amuse themselves by messing with the people around them. And, if you leave your TV tuned to something of interest, like The Shopping Network, ghosts practically evaporate. But, so much for ghost lore; let’s get down to the real nitty-gritty of ghosts.

The Ghost of Fannie Solomon

Yes, Virginia, there are ghosts right here in the good old QCA. This particular ghost isn’t a native, but was mysteriously transported here by one of your humble reporters. If you happen to be a regular reader, you know that we got hooked on the Chinese game of Mahjong a few months ago. Like good Mahjonger’s everywhere, Gail decided to search out a vintage set. It seems the set came equipped with its own ghost. Here’s the scoop.

Upon delivery of the set, Gail spent hours lovingly cleaning and polishing every tile. She wiped the case with leather cleaner. She cleared away the years of dust and vintage soap (which came from a tissue wrapped hotel bar). In the process, she noticed the inscription “F. Solomon” lovingly written in Fannie’s best hand. Obviously this set was somebody’s pride and joy, albeit 60 years ago.

The first game was a celebration. Toni and CTH Phil hosted an evening of Mahjong using the set. The night was a great success, and the set was carefully packed and returned to Gail’s dining room table. But later, something happened. When the set was opened the next day – the “five dot” tile was missing. This led to a frantic search under all the furniture, around the house, Toni and Phil searched their house. No tile. Now, this was not a casual effort. All the stops were pulled, vacuum cleaner bags cut open, counting, recounting and still no tile. Gail found a cheap substitute tile, but the color didn’t match. It was a sad day. Then, it happened. When the box was opened, the old tile magically reappeared.

Could this be a coincidence? We know how desperately we searched. We take stock in the counting and recounting, sorting and resorting, with the hopes of finding the missing piece. No luck. Then, Fannie returned the piece. Now, we invite Fannie to join our game whenever the set is used.

The aunt, the ghost and the wedding ring

Some years ago, our own Toni had the opportunity to visit an aunt in Oklahoma. The stay was a lovely one, except Toni kept hearing a car door slam and the shuffle of her aunt walking down the hall. Ever the good guest, Toni finally got up to see what might be bothering her host, but no one was up. After returning to bed, she heard the noise once more. This time, she decided to investigate more closely. After going through the house, she finally opened her aunt’s bedroom door. Auntie was sound asleep.

The next morning, Toni asked the aunt if she had been up. She smiled and said, “You heard him?” Then she proceeded to tell the story of the ghost that wanted her to get a new wedding ring.

Toni’s uncle wanted to buy her aunt a new wedding ring. Being the sensible type, her aunt always downplayed the idea. Her uncle persisted, but she refused. After several manifestations, car door slams and footsteps too numerous to mention, the ghost got hung up on the ring idea – she could feel the pressure. Then one night, the aunt woke up to discover the ring bent around her finger to the point it had to be cut off by a jeweler. The ghost and the uncle got their way. Toni’s auntie got a beautiful new ring. We’d like to conclude this story with “the aunt, uncle and ghost all lived happily ever after,” but of course, the ghost was already dead – sorta.

Let us wish you a Happy Halloween and suggest you share the ghost stories in your life.