12 November 2008

Waking Spirits

As promised, this blog will focus on the Cemetery Walk. It was held on Nov. 2 and was absolutely wonderful to see. A good majority of the actors and actresses involved were from my school and the theater department helped with all the costuming. Although we showed up later and ended up missing one performance, all the monologues and duologues we saw were wonderfully delivered and most were very well written. The first performance we saw was of Josh and Harriet Lucas, played by my friends Van and Courtney.

Don't these costumes look great? Josh and Harriet were some of the first black residents of this cemetery until they were moved to an all Negro cemetery at the suggestion of Ms. Pearl Wylie Cage, a woman who lived with all kinds of powerful connections, working for the "greater good" as she saw it. (Pictured on the right)

According to Ms. Cage - whose actress moved around too quickly for me to get many clear shots - the cemetery's colored residents had to move so that the cemetery could expand. This part was very well cast, the actress well coached. She played the part very well.

Of course, my favorite monologue of the day (also the best of the nine we saw) was delivered by Mr. Bernie Connally and written by yours truly. Bernie Connally lived in the small town of Selden with his mother, grandmother, and stepfather Francis Marion "F.M." Snow. The two men butted heads constantly, F.M. unable to understand exactly why his stepson always had his nose in some book. While Bernie was always seen with his books, F.M. was just as meticulous: he was never without his hunting dogs, his rifle, or his double-bladed axe. One November evening when Bernie was about 20 years old, F.M. met him coming home from a trip into Stephenville to sell lumber to local farmers. Joining his stepson in the wagon, the two remained quiet, each still fuming over a fight that had taken place earlier that day.

As Bernie turned, perhaps to speak to his stepfather, he was shot in the back, a second bullet going through his chest. His body fell to the ground, loaded into the back of the wagon by Snow, who continued towards home, stopping near an old abandoned farmhouse long enough to decapitate his stepson and leave the head in a tow sack in the cellar. It was found by two local hunters and, soon enough, was put on display in the local funeral home. The hope was that someone could identify the head. In the space of a few hours, Bernie became the missing child of some 200 couples, many coming from Houston and Ft. Worth in search of their sons.

Finally, Bernie was correctly identified. The farm was searched from top to bottom and Snow was eventually convicted of three counts of first degree murder; not only had he decapitated Bernie, but he'd shot his wife and mother in law. Using the axe, he chopped their bodies like kindling and burned them in the stove. He agreed to go with the Sheriff on the grounds he wouldn't be hanged. "Little did F.M. know, hanging had been outlawed [in the county] two days before." He went to the electric chair.

Any ghost stories in your area? In your family? What's your favorite urban legend?
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