Wednesday, December 21, 2016

An Historic/Ghost Tour With the Wastelanders

I've always been a fan of history; and, truth be told, I've learned quite a bit about the history of the community that I live in. I have also acquainted myself with the local ghost stories. This being the case, I have long considered putting my combined interests to work by conducting historic/ghost tours for various groups.

The idea stayed with me for quite a while until I realized that the need to purchase a commercial vehicle to transport people and rigid regulations would make such an endeavor close to impossible for me to pull off given my limited resources. Sure, I could contact the local taxi/limo company or some other similar resource, but hiring a driver would seriously cut into my own profits. So eventually, I gave up on the idea.

I did mention this interest to a friend, and from time to time when I'd see her, she would urge me to pursue the idea. So, I wasn't surprised when, back in the fall, she suggested that I lead her group, The Ozark Wastelander Society, on such a tour.

So just what is The Ozark Wastelander Society? It is a group that from time to time, creates a fantastic post-apocalyptic world in which they live in for a certain amount of time. Every September, they travel out to the Mojave Desert and join with others of a like mind, spending three or four days in a Mad Max world of their own creation. They enjoy altering their vehicles in such a way as to mimic their perception of what such a world would be like. Some members reportedly face off in futuristic battle-dome scenarios and various contests and/or competitions, oten to the beat of heavy metal bands up on the stage. My friend considers wastelander culture as the new steam punk, and I have no reason not to believe her. These folks design their own clothing for events and believe me, they have a unique style. Some of the participants are goth and some are not, but they're certainly an interesting group.

My inspiring friend, who I'll simply call S, convinced me that I should conduct a ghost tour with her group and assured me, that she could bring them out in numbers. So, I agreed; and on Sunday December 4, I conducted my first historic/ghost tour with a very enthusiastic audience.

Since we would be visiting three different cemeteries, which included the two I'm associated with, the tour had to be conducted during the day. Not only is it against state law to be in cemeteries after dark, but the local organizations maintaining them don't appreciate nightly visitors as too much vandalism takes place during the nighttime hours. Such restrictions made the tour a bit less ghostly, but since it was a cloudy, gloomy day, we still enjoyed a suitable atmosphere fir discussing the supernatural.

Quite frankly, I was amazed at the number of folks who came out and stayed until the end. Also, the introvert in me was a bit apprehensive about meeting so many new people and having to speak in front of them for a couple of hours. Still, they proved to be a great bunch of people and I enjoyed their company.

First, we assembled at the Confederate Cemetery where introductions were made and we jumped into the history of that cemetery with a bit of background as to the people buried there. Then, I launched into my personal ghost/shadow person experience. After that we walked across the road to the Walker Cemetery where we discussed more history before discussing the area's best-known ghost story, The Legend of Ghost Hallow, a scenario that took place a bit  to the east of the two cemeteries. Unfortunately, Ghost Hallow is quite inaccessible due to an ice storm we had back in January 09. So, we could not actually go there to listen for any ghostly screams.

Next, everyone followed me over to an historic site known as the Headquarters House, which was the scene of a Civil War battle back in 1863, when Confederate forces attempted to unseat the Union occupation of the community. I had lots of history plus another ghost story for the group there, and then we moved on to two more historic houses, each with their own stories to tell before finishing the tour at the Evergreen Historic Cemetery where some of the important players I'd discussed, are buried.

All I can say is, I enjoyed the opportunity to take such a neat group of people on the tour and in a sense, I got to live my dream, if only for a couple of hours. My one regret was that there was a lot more history to discuss than ghosts, but the group didn't seem to mind; and after all was said and done, we ended up at a venue that is legendary in it's own right,  a long-standing beer joint known as Roger's Rec, where we settled in for a hearty-drinking session.

All in all, it was a great time. Since the weather was so damp and cold, a few folks dropped off along the way. Still, you can see all the tough wastelanders and one youngster, who stuck it out until the very end. Hooray for them!

Happy Holidays to all my readers!