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Does Huntington Need a Ghostbuster?
After dropping off a fare at a dance hall on Fifth Street Road, a girl wearing no coat hailed the Black & White Taxi at the top of the hill. Claiming she had not worn a coat for “five or ten years,” the woman wearing a skirt and thin blouse asked to be dropped at the bottom of the hill.
According to the story quoted by Joseph Plantania (from Huntington Quarterly) , “She was not sitting in the seat. I thought maybe she had fainted or something and fell off the seat, so I looked down on the floor. But there was nobody there. I looked back up the road and couldn't see anybody.”
Turns out more than one cab driver had been “gypped out of a quarter.”
A 1958 printed storm attributes the apparition as that of a newly married bride who after tying the knot in Wayne was killed in a car accident during a storm. The car overturned before coming to the bridge and boulevard.
Guyandotte historian Richard Simmons will be teaching differences between legend and history to school children Friday at the Madie Carroll House.
Officially, a “skeptic,” Simmons has found an overlapping of urban legends with what he terms “dances with history.” The current City Councilman agreed that oral recitations mix with historic fact.
“It is like playing the schoolhouse game Rumor.....You start with the truth and pass it down the line to several children and it comes out different than what was started,” Simmons said, adding, “If you tell a historic story and people put dramatic twists in it after 100 years of that story and people putting small twists a lot of times it will turn into Legend.”
Simmons himself lives in a home where unusual happens have occurred, such as pictures flying off the wall, a microwave that turns on without assistance, strange footsteps and voices.
“I live in a historic house built in 1838 by Victor Letulle, an early Guyandotte pioneer. His first was buried in the old Guyandotte Cemetery. His second wife had his body moved from the Guyandotte Cemetery to Spring Hill,” Simmons said. “Legend has it that his first wife returns to the house looking for him. I don’t deny strange things have taken place in this house.”
Despite the potential paranormal activities, Simmons prefers to look toward logic not the supernatural. However, he agrees that mystical events typically surround a structure where one or more deaths have occurred. If that were true, “a house could be haunted by any one from 1800 to 2012 or 2013, but the legends are rom the distant past,” Simmons said.
One source for supernatural events come from “untold stories” from a family’s past. They are passed as the oral histories of the Civil War. And, like they are “embellished,” as they go lip to lip from one generation to the next
Simmons cited that a relative of President Harrison is buried in the old cemetery. “She was working in her garden and was trampled by a yoke of oxen. This is written in history,” he said.
How many occurrences have not spread beyond a family? Or to just to a few in the community? Guyandotte has its own lady in a black gown. A relative recalls hearsay of a man walking home in West Huntington, only to be visited by a young woman who vanishes. Once arriving at home, he learned that the woman had just committed suicide.
As for the “bride,” inquiries of recent sightings have generally drawn a null. Richard McCoy, who is in his 70s, noted that the after the deadly curves were widened, the ethereal mist and fog sightings halted.
However, Simmons and Plantania both cite other cities with vanishing hitchhiker “legends” dating back to horse and buggy days.
As for the Halloween 2013 rendition of the bridal vision, Simmons described her as "awesome."