ALICE

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I first met Alice when I was about 10 years old.  She’s a South Carolina ghost, and the stories of her left me many sleepless nights.

She lived in the mid 1800s at her family’s seaside home at Murrell’s Inlet.  While on vacation in the 1970s, my family happened on her home place, the Hermitage, and an older gentleman, a family descendent, invited us in for a tour and shared her story.  Apparently Alice fell in love with a dude that her brother disapproved of.  She left home for school and married the outsider.  When she returned to the Hermitage, she wore her wedding ring around her neck to conceal her disobedience.  When she became sick with scarlet fever, the ring was discovered.  Her angry brother grabbed the ring and tossed it into the marsh surrounding their home.  She died shortly after.  Her family was so mad that the only thing they put on her gravestone was her first name:  ALICE.

The story I remember is that if you run around her grave 14 times backwards, lie down, and truly believe, she will appear.

So being in the area for Labor Day, I felt obligated to take Stephanie and Michelle to see her.  We were so busy throughout the day that we didn’t get the chance to visit her until Sunday night.

We pulled up to the cemetery at 10:30.  PM.  The wrought ironed gate had a sign that said OPEN FROM 8 AM TIL DARK.  It was dark, so I interpreted that we were within the rules.

As I walked toward the back of the graveyard, Stephanie pulled on my left arm while Michelle pulled on the right both leaning toward the parking lot with full force.  I felt like a mule pulling a wagon.  My body leaned forward dragging them toward our destination.  Although their body language said otherwise, I could tell they wanted to be there.  I had not physically put them in the car.  They came on their own accord.

As we passed the small stone church, a huge spotlight shone in my eyes.

I’ll have to admit it startled me.  I thought someone was standing there with a lantern.    Regaining my composure, I broke away from the girls long enough to figure out where Alice lay.  I called them over when I found her.

There were rings and some money on the slab of marble that defined her resting spot.  Others had been there to pay their respects.

I was hopeful.  I believed.  I ran around, backwards, fourteen times.  I settled on my back hopeful she’d make an appearance.  The girls huddled nearby expecting my next move.

I worked hard to be still long enough to build up a decent level of anticipation.  And then, with the energy of a five-year old, I leapt up, arms high in the air, screaming like a little girl, “There she is!!  On the fence!  Run!  Run!”

My long legs passed them before we got to the gate.  I bolted across the two lane road to the car, jumped in and locked the doors.

As they beat on the car windows I regained my composure, in short time opening the doors.  I assured them I had not intentionally locked them out.  “I just got worked up.”  Wise, they did not buy my story; any of it.

As we drove home I finished the tale.

“Alice follows those who visit.  When all are asleep, she pulls on the fingers of all the girls looking for her wedding band.

Whew.  Tonight I’m very thankful that I’m a boy.”

A Box Full of Imagination

Posted by Danny

When I was a kid, some of my happiest with my friends occurred in a dirt hole in the back of our yard.  We’d play with our little green army men; we had a million.  My tanks would sneak up the back side of the hole with my brother and his troops on the front.  I’m not sure how someone won – it seems like we had more fun setting things up than actually fighting.

In the summer, we’d spend time spitting across the fence at our school principal’s son who lived directly behind us.  Why we would spit on the principal’s kid?  I just don’t know.  No wonder my brother spent so much time in his office when September hit.

We’d wrestle in the hole and make roads for our Matchbox cars.  I even remember having a contest with Adam Fair to see who could hold their tongue on the dirt the longest – Jennifer, Tracy, Chad, Jim, Mike and Jimmy all cheering us on.  I’m pretty sure I won.  I’d scrape the residue off with my teeth as I slowly drug my sandy taster back into my mouth.

I bet the idea for exfoliating soap started in some kid’s backyard.  To this day, when my swim suit fills with sand at the beach, the chaffing on my rump brings back fond memories of summers on Berskshire Road.

My kids, on the other hand, would no more play outside in a hole than they would shave their heads and jog to school.  For them it’s the Wii, or Netflix or the i-whatever they can get their hands on.  They don’t know how to make fun out of nothing.

“Dad, I’m bored.  There’s nothing to do.”

“Go play in a bush like I did as  a kid.  Use some imagination.” 

Whatever would we do in a bush?  There isn’t a television there.

But this week, I’ve had a glimmer of hope.  I’ve been cleaning up around the house today and tackling odd jobs and for hours, literally hours, Michelle and Stephanie have been in a box. Well, actually three boxes, side by side.

Christmas Morning

For Christmas, collectively they received one Wii game, four craft kits, an easel and paints, a deck of cards, clothes for their American girl dolls, iTunes gift cards, a game, tons of clothes, a stop watch and more. But, the two gifts they’ve enjoyed the most, a week after Christmas, were three boxes and duct tape. Gifts they had requested.

In fact, at one point, the boxes no longer acted as a pretend house. Instead, they became The Duct Tape Company.

Stephanie has created a purse, wallet, bracelet and hair bows from the colored stickum.  One friend actually wants a Stephanie Duct Taped pocketbook for her birthday.  She said she’d actually use it! 

Duct Tape Company online catalogue

 

As I was cooking dinner, I heard laughter and singing and I spotted art, and two amazing imaginations at work. At one point, they were prisoners – captured by the bad guys. There have been animals in the boxes, mothers, aunts, bankers, chefs and babies.  There’s no dirt in there, but they seem to be faring well without it.

But I can’t get too excited.  Michelle took a small dry erase board she found in her room, drew a TV screen on it, wrote Disney Channel across the front and hung it on the wall in the box.  I guess that made it feel just like home.

A tour of our box:

The guest bedroom for American Girl Dolls

The office and duct tape factory

The den, complete with flat screen TV