Saturday, September 24, 2011

Samedi: Ghostly Tales

Many of the ghostly tales of old New Orleans feature the secreting away or burying of treasure.  Perhaps it is the idea of sudden and uncomplicated wealth that appeals, or the idea that pirates once walked the streets and alleys of the Vieux Carre.  Most likely, it is just the imaginings of those who would like very much to find a cache in their own backyard.  What ever the reason, today’s story taps into that time honored tradition.

The gossip on Saratoga Street says that after the Civil War a rich but stingy old bachelor lived there.  Though he made money hand over fist he lived on the edge of cruel poverty, taking his joy from the closeness of his wealth which he kept in the form of gold coins and called his “children”.  Before this man died he buried his “children” in his backyard but he never told anyone exactly where.  He went to his grave, conveniently located in the cemetery across from his house, and his secret when with him.

Now it is said that the old miser returns on dark moon nights and runs about his former yard in spectral form, anxious to retrieve his gold.  While watching the decrepit haint dig with his bony hands in the cold dirt is spine tingling enough, more terror may pop up on any given inky night.  Sometimes the miser brings other phantasms with him.  The most frightening is an ancient hag with white hair, long nails and decomposing flesh that drags along on the ground behind her.  When she looks up from her digging it is said that she has no face but a pair of glowing, red eyes.  The miser calls out to his “children” as his unfortunate companions dig, and the moaning of these pathetic creatures keeps the neighborhood awake.

Some people stand and watch this spectacle, hoping to see where the old man buried his hoard of gold.  Though someone will periodically dig up the backyard, no buried treasure has yet been found.  It is probably safe to say that it never will, and yet the specter of the miser and his ghostly companions – especially the horrifying hag – will doubtless continue to return.

Header: New Orleans Street by Louis Oscar Griffith via American Gallery


Timmy! said...

Wow... There goes the neighborhood, Pauline.

Pauline said...

I just like that people watch the whole spectacle on regular occasions in the hope of finding buried treasure. Honestly.