Dubbed by Frances Curtis Other Bridewell
Transcribed by M.C. Parler Helena, Ark.
Reel 349, Item 1
Interview about Ghosts
(Frances Curtis, a student in the class in Arkansas Folklore, brought this tape on April 15, 1953, accompanied by the following note:)
" This tape recording was made by Helen Burke in November of 1950. Helen was blind. She died in 1952. It was recorded on a record at KFFA. I got the record and had the tape made from it. The man talking worked in her father's coal yard. The other man worked at the radio station. Later the Negro man told Mrs. Burke (Helen's mother) that Helen had ruined it because she laughed. "
Announcer: Bridewell, where were you born?
Bridewell: In Carroll County, Mississippi.
A: Do you really believe in ghosts?
B: Yes sir, I really know it.
A: And where did you first see a ghost?
B: Well, I first seed one when I was in Mississippi. Course
I seed several of em since I been over here in Arkansas.
A: How Long ago was that, Bridewell?
B: Well, I seed one here a little before Christmas.
A: This year?
B: Last year.
A: Have you ever touched a ghost, or talked to one, or tried to talk to a ghost?
B: No sir, I never have, cause I was kinda fraid to get close
A: Do they make any sound?
B: Yes sir.
A: What sort of sound do they make, Bridewell?
-more-B: Well, dey goes kinda like a person when dey sick, dey kinda groan. (He groans.) Something like this.
A: And you've actually heard these ghosts making that sound?
B: Yes, Sir.
Helen Burke: Whenthey walk, what kind of sound do they make as they go by?
B: No mam, you can't hear em when dey walk. And I have tried to see em.
Helen: They don't make sort of a rustling sound?
B: No'm, dey don't have any feets. I have got down and looked. Dey bees about fo' feet up off de ground.
A: In other words, they seem to be floating in the air about four feet off the ground?
B: Yessir, just going through the air.
Helen: Can you see any feet! I mean, even if they're not on the ground, are there feet up in the air? Or are there just legs without feet?
B: You can't see any feets at all, you can't see any laigs.
A: Nothing apparently connecting them with the ground?
B: Naw sir.
Helen: What about hands?
B: Well, you can see sometimes dey coming forward like dey got hands. Sometime dey don't. Sometime dey don't even have a haid. Dey come in different forms. Sometime like a dawg or some kind of other animal.
A: Well, Bridewell, will you tell us some of your experiences with different ghosts that you've seen?
B: Well, I went one night — call myself I was gonna gig some money out some of de old boys — and we got out dere in de woods and we heard something goin through the woods walkin. And I asked another boy, I says, what is dat, Cat? He say, "Dat was a cow." We got on out dere, and we started to diggin, and look like de tree-top broke out. Something got in a dead tree-top over dere. Look like it go tear de world up. And I struck a match, and it knocked de match — stem an all — outa my hand.
Reel 349, Item 1
Helen: Were you scared then?
B: Yes, ma'm, I really was scared.
Helen: Did you run?
B: Yes'm, I lef' on out from dere. Yes Ma'am!
Helen: What about the money?
B: Well, we lef' it. I never did go back to see bout de money.
A: Well, Bridewell, that was perhaps the time that you were most frightened by a ghost?
A: Well, you were telling me that you saw one just before Christmas. What did you see then?
B: Well, dere was a woman was goin up Beech Street over here, from Walker.
A: How did you know that was a ghost, Bridewell?
B: Well, I had been seein her for some time, see/
A: And that couldn't have been a live woman?
B:Nawsir, cause she didn't have no laigs or feet.
A: Did you hear her speak or make any sound?
B: Naw sir, she never have said nothin.
A: You say you've seen her several times. Have any of your friends seen her?
B: Yassir. Several of em live over dere on Beech Street.
A: Can you describe about what she looks like?
B: Well, uh, she seem to be about five feet high. And she usu ally from Walker Street or Adams Street.
Helen: Are they young or old, these ghosts?
B: Well, she seem to be — look kinda like a middle-age woman
Reel 349, Item 1
Reel 349, Item 1 Continued(3)
Helen: Are they pretty? If they are females, are they pretty?
B: I don't know. I never did see in the face.
Helen: What about their eyes? Have you ever seen the eyes of a ghost?
B: Yassum, I heve seed dey eyes. Dey eyes is red, jes like a coal o fire.
Helen: Was a ghost ever smiling?
B: No Ma'am. I never have seed one smile.
Helen: Are they crying?
B: No'm, dey don't cry.
Helen: Just sort of sober faced.
Helen: You were telling me — I asked you, do the ghosts drink water. Do they?
B: No'm I never have seed one drink water. But they'll drink whiskey.
Heien: How do you know?
B: Well, if you ever see one, and he's trailin you, and you have some whiskey, you can jus po' it down on de ground or in a cup or something, and walk on off from it, den go back later, it'll be gone.
A: Have many of your friends seen ghosts?
B: Yessir.A goodeal of em.
A: So your friends do believe in ghosts?
B: Yes sir. Lots of em b'lieve.
A: In fact, you made the flat statement that there - are- ghost B: Yes, Sir! Dey's ghosts.
A: What about the time you awoke to find a woman standing over your bed?
B: I went to baid dis night and I lock my door, an I heard a curious racket. And I take my with me, and there was a woman standin there right side my baid. An I raised up, and she lef' out and went on through the other room. And the other boy ax we what was it — he say something jumped on his baid and jumped on out through the window.
Helen: When she left your room, did she go through a door or —
B: Just went right through the wall. It wasn't no window, or
door neither, there.
Helen: Did she make a sound as she went through?
B: She made a curious noise?
A: What sort of a noise was that, Bridewell?
B: Well, it went jus' like you'd shake some old loose panels on a house.
A: You told me, I believe, that every time a ghost comes to your house the whore house shakes?
B: Yas, Sir. Dey in it in yo' house, it'll shake de whole house.
A: What reason can you give for that, Bridewell?
B: I don't know, sir, what cause that.
Helen: You told me once about a dog that was a ghost/
B: It was a dog, was up there in the hallway. An so we used to keep the do's all lock. And you'd wake up through de night and that dog still would be in that hallway.
Helen: You don't think someone unrocked the door and —
B: No'm, couldn't a been unrocked, de do'.
A: That was in the house that you used to live in? You were telling us about another house you' lived in that you heard something snoring under the bed. Gourd you tell us about that?
B: Yassir. I'd go to baid, and I'd put de lights out, and dey was a man sno'in under my baid. I thought it was someone had broke in de house. And I got up and lit my lamp and looked under the baid and they wasn't anything under there. So I put de lamp back out, and lied (sic) back down and it went to sno'in again.
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Reel 349, Item 1
A: And you never did find out what it was snoring under your bed?
B: Several people lived there, they say they have heard the same thing.
Helen: Bridewell, you were telling me one time about a clock that you had that you didn't have to wind — that the ghost of your father came —
B: Yas'm. I was livin out in de country. An my father died in de house. An he'd keep dat crock wound up. I could go way from home and stay a week an come back and de clock'd be runnin, be wound up tight.
Helen: If you were there, you had to wind it?
B: I had to wind it ever' evenin, didn't it'd run down.
A: That definitely was not a seven day crock?
B: Naw, Sir. Just a common Beg Ben clock.
A: And none of your neighbors wound it for you?
B: Nawsir, wasn't nobody livin dere but me.
Helen: Bridewell, don't you think that if you read your Bible, that you wourdn't believe in ghosts?
B: Well yassum. Hit's evil spirits. Dey's good spirits.
Helen: In the Bible?
B: Yessum. The Bible speaks of evil spirits.
A: Just why do you believe in ghosts? From reading the Bible, other than that it speaks of good spirits and evil spirits? What else does it mention?
B: Well dey's good ghosts. Dat evil spirit, dat's what makes dat evil ghost.
A: Can they do, you any harm?
B: Naw sir. I never knowed one to do anyone any harm.
Helen: Well, Bridewell, why do you see ghosts and some people don't?
B: Well dey say dem wid a veil over dey face dey can see em. And dem dat don't have a veil over dey face when dey born, why dey can't see em.
Helen: Have you ever been walking with some people, and they couldn't see them and you could?
B:Yas, Ma'am. An I'd move over to the side of the road, and they couldn't see de ghost, and de ghost it'd move to de other side and let them by.
A:Well, Bridewell, I hate to break in here on this interesting story, but our time is just about up.
Reel 349, Item 1
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