Ghost stories from childhood

Published 10:17 pm Thursday, October 19, 2017

One year, when I was 12 and brother was 10, mama took us to Pawley’s Island, South Carolina. We stayed in an old beach house with siding weathered to a shiny gray and stilts that lifted it a full story off the sandy ground.

One day, while we were running amok along the edge of a salt march, a salty old fellow found us. He was as weathered and gray as the beach house, and wore a grizzled white beard. He had a package of chicken necks and some string. We followed him down to a little dock, and passed a little time learning to catch crabs by tying string to the chicken necks and dangling them into the water.

After that, we just sat on the edge of the dock, swinging our legs, while the old man told us stories of the island in the olden days. We were entertained by the tales of hurricanes and society dances, but when he asked us if we’d ever heard the legend of Alice Flagg, the beautiful heartbroken ghost girl who wanders the South Carolina Low Country, we stopped swinging our legs and listened as he told us the tale. Poor Alice was a young woman from a wealthy family in a nearby town, who became secretly engaged to a man of whom her mother and brother did not approve. She secretly wore her engagement ring on a ribbon around her lovely slender neck. When she refused to choose a more suitable beau, she was sent away to Charleston, where she promptly became deathly ill. Her brother came to fetch her home, and along the road he discovered her ring! He snatched it from her neck and tossed it out the carriage window! Alice succumbed soon after she arrived home, and her ghost roams, eternally searching for her engagement ring, and her one true love.

When he was done with the story, the old fellow looked to the sky and told us to hurry on home, for a storm was coming, and we shouldn’t be caught in the downpour.

Sure enough, there was an awful storm that evening!  Over supper, we told mama about Alice. She laughed and showed us the book she’d been reading all afternoon. It was about Low Country Ghosts, and there was Alice, right on the cover! I took the book to bed with me that night, but daylight found it back on the bookshelf, and me tucked in beside Mama.

I was fine until I read the story of The Gray Man, Pawleys Island’s very own ghost, an old fisherman who roamed the island when bad weather was imminent, warning people to seek shelter!

Pepper Ellis Hagebak is a  resident of LaGrange.