During the summers, Mom would send her three children to stay with Grandmom at Grandmom’s farm in North Carolina. The youngest of the three, Allen, was especially taken with one of his older relatives and couldn’t get enough of Uncle Pap Dek.
The origin of Uncle Pap Dek’s unusual nickname is unknown and all the relatives who might have helped us understand where it came from have now passed away.
Anyway, as the story goes, one evening in late summer Uncle Pap Dek decided to take a short stroll outside after a very filling dinner which included ham, greens, mashed taters and homemade biscuits. He went out the back screen door and into the gathering dusk. Uncle Pap Dek filled his corncob pipe with cherry tobacco and took a deep breath as he started his walk.
Just as he neared the front of the house, Uncle Pap Dek became aware of a movement and glancing over his shoulder, thought he saw something white and floating just above the grass. As twilight fell, Uncle Pap Dek quickened his pace as he rounded the side of the house.
The white floating object also seemed to be moving faster, gaining on him. The front door would be locked this time of evening, so he had to keep moving toward the back of the house.
He was stepping faster and just missed the back screen door handle, so Uncle Pap Dek started trotting toward the front of the house again. When he approached the back of the house, he stretched out his hand, but missed the screen door handle again. Now he was running around the side of the house toward the front again.
That white thing was bobbing along behind him, eating up the space between them. Uncle Pap Dek was nearing the back of the house for the third time, and with a burst of speed, he grabbed the screen door handle, threw open the back door, ran into the house and down the hall to the kitchen.
Grandmom had just finished putting things away and cleaning up from dinner when Uncle Pap Dek tumbled into a kitchen chair. He was breathing hard and gasped as he peered down the hallway. The white thing was floating up the hallway and coming straight for Uncle Pap Dek.
It was Allen, dressed in his nightshirt (an old adult T-shirt), his little legs brown as a nut from a summer spent soaking up the North Carolina sun.
“Uncle Pap Dek, what did you run away for?”
“Carn sarn your hide, boy! Why aren’t you in bed this time of night?”
Allen giggled and disappeared down the hallway towards the bedrooms.
“Just wanted to say G’night Uncle Pap Dek.”
GHOST STORY II: Barney, if You’re Here …
Pop worked with Barney as a custodian in one of Mr. Steiner’s office buildings down at Kensington and Allegheny avenues in Philadelphia back in the '50s. Some nights, Pop would tell Mom about the unusual events of the day. Ours was a small row house and Allen and I had the two bedrooms upstairs, while Mom and Pop slept on the sofa bed in the living room downstairs.
Mr. Steiner didn’t want to retire Barney and let him stay on way past retirement age. Pop and Barney had worked in the office building for a number of years when Barney passed away from old age.
So it was that Pop was the only one working after the building had closed for the day when he sometimes heard footsteps walking down the hallway or a hammer banging in one of the offices, or the elevators would suddenly start running when no one else was supposed to be in the building.
After a couple of weeks of these mysterious happenings, Pop became convinced Barney had come back to work and Pop would call out, “Barney, if you’re here, show yourself!”
Late one night as Pop was stretched out on the sofa bed and telling Mom of the latest events, he uttered those fateful words “Barney, if you’re here, show yourself!”
There was an eerie moan “Woooooo” and a white apparition floated down the stairs and toward the sofa bed. In a heartbeat, Pop had jumped out of the bed over Mom, headed to the front door, unlocked the latch and was outside on the front steps in his pajamas before Allen could throw off the sheet and call to him, “Hey Pop, it’s me, not Barney!” With lights on, we all had a good laugh before settling in again for the night.
Pop never mentioned Barney again.
Millicent Knight, Valdosta