There used to be a park at Myrtle Hill where the mausoleum is being built. Every Sunday the park would be full of boys and girls. There was a boy back then that used to come to the park who was called Goot. I remember that Goot had lost a leg and walked on crutches, but there weren’t many who could out do him even if he had only one leg. The city swimming pool was at the end of Sixth Avenue close to the river. On Saturday you could find Goot there, climbing up on the diving board and doing flip-flops off of it.
I remember it as if it was yesterday and how I got into a situation that wasn’t funny. I had an experience with a couple of my friends with a house that was on Branham Avenue, where the apartments now sit. I wasn’t looking forward to another one. When you are young you don’t know when you are well off, so you let your mouth over load you. It was a Sunday morning and the park was full of people. I sat on the bench with a few of my friends taking a ragging about ghosts.
IT SEEMED that some one had told about my experience in the house across the road from the park. I sat down and the first thing I knew was someone had slipped up behind me and yelled, “Boo.” I jumped up and turning to see who it was, looking in to the face of Eddy, one of the boys who was with me that night. Some one, yelled” Eddy you scared him, look how pale he is.” Eddy was a big joker and he was laughing so loud and hard that he had tears in his eyes. I didn’t think it was so funny.
I looked toward the house across the road and a chill went up my back, and I turned and started to leave the park. That was when I saw Goot coming toward me. “Hey, Adcock,” he said, “don’t let these idiots get next to you.” “Try to ignore Eddy the clown and the rest will leave you alone.”
“Come on,” he said going over to another bench and sat down. I sat down beside him and he began to talk,” Adcock some people go though life, and never experience any thing more than being a jokester.” “ Eddy is one of them, when he does something to you, give him a sour look. If it doesn’t bother you then it won’t be funny to him and he will leave you alone.” He got up saying, “Come on let’s join the crowd.”
We went over and sat down on a bench and every one gathered around to listen to what Goot had to say.
Goot looked the crowd over and began to laugh. “I bet, he said, that there is none among you who will go in one of those houses,” and he pointed to them.” All my life I have heard about the haunts in those houses.
“I WANT all of you who are so brave to come to a party at my house next Saturday night.” He looked the crowd over. No one said any thing. He got up and said, “Next Saturday there will be a party at my house. We will play games and eat cake and ice cream. When it gets dark we will go inside, and I will let you meet my ghost.”
He got up and smiled. “If those who laughed at Adcock are so brave, be at my house Saturday night at six.” He put his crutch under his arm and left . Thinking back I am still amazed at how fast he could move.
Saturday came and out of curiosity I went to Goot’s party to see who would come. I arrived to find the porch full of boys and girls. I look back and believe the reason that so many people came, was back then there were not too many things to do on a Saturday night. If you got the chance to go to a party you went. It was just getting dark so we began to play games. If you are old enough to remember back then you recall that the popular games to play were Post Office or Spin the Bottle. The night passed and Goot announced that the ice cream and cake were inside on the table.
“Oh yeah,” he said “and Goot’s ghost will be having cake and ice cream with us.” A nervous smile and a silly giggle and everyone went inside. We entered a large hallway that had a table put up with chairs all around it.
A large piece of cake and a bowl of ice cream sat on the table. We filed in and sat down. Goot took a seat at the end of the table where we come in. This put him at the end where if any one decided to leave they would have to pass him. I was seated about half way down the table with a girl on either side of me.
I WILL ALWAYS remember Christine Wilkins, the one on my right. If she is still among us she will remember that night. “Dig in,” Goot told us, “the ice cream is melting and the cake is growing old.”
Everyone at the table began to eat. Goot began to spin his web of intrigue about his ghost. I watched the faces at the table. Some had theirs eyes wide open when he would mention ghosts. Goot was a good storyteller and I took in every word. So did Christine.
Goot’s ghost story went this way: “ It seems at certain times you could hear voices and foot steps in the hallway. If you didn’t make any noise then it would move from the hallway and into the rooms. When all was over they would go up to the ceiling and make some more noise. Only there was no way to get up in the ceiling.”
Goot said he would lay in bed at night and listen to the noises. He had got us all inside because it was about time for them to make their appearance. He looked around the table at every one and said, “Let’s see how many of you will finish your cake and ice cream.” With a smile on his face he began to eat.
I felt a cold chill go down my back and the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I don’t know how it happened, but Christine had moved her chair so close that she was almost in my lap. A boy by the name of Johnny had grabbed up his cake and headed for the door. Several more boys and girls were already heading for the door. I sat still frozen to my chair.
Christine leaned over and whispered, “Can you see them?”
I DIDN’T SAY anything — I sat still. Things were happening all around the hallway. I know that there were noises, not made by the remaining few. Then with a yell that brought us all back, Eddy jumped to his feet. Jimmy was sitting beside him and when he jumped up, Eddy fell over Jimmy’s chair. He was on his feet and out the door in just a few seconds.
Goot just sat there with a smile on his face.
This is one of those things that I have thought about through the years. Did Goot stage this to scare the ones who were making fun of me?
I know that cold chills and the hair stood up on the back of my neck happened that night. When we left Christine was holding my hand as if she would never turn it loose. There were sounds that sounded like whispering in the hallway. When they all had left and ran outside, I stood up and Goot smiled at Christine.
“Walk her home, Adcock,” he said, “for she can’t make it by herself.” Christine lived on Third Avenue and all the way there she kept asking, “Did you see them, did you hear them.” I remember keeping my mouth shut not answering her. I always believe that when there is doubt keep your mouth shut.
I had almost forgotten about what happened with Goot’s ghost until talking to Mike.
In remembering, it brought back another incident that happened at that location.
I had been with the Police Department for a while. An officer by the name of Pete was my riding partner. At that time the family that lived in the house had a son named Billy Joe.
BILLY JOE would get to drinking and go home and his mother would call the police to come and get him out of the house. Pete and I got the call that Billy Joe was tearing up his mother’s house and she wanted him out. We parked and went up on the porch and talked to his mother. We went inside where she said he had gone. We searched the house from end to end — no Billy Joe.
His mother came just inside the door and said he is in here for he hasn’t come outside. Pete walked over to her saying, “We have looked everywhere. Is there a way up in the attic.” She shook her head.
I was standing beside a couch that sat back in what I call an alcove. I had my back to it when a whispering voice said, “Couch.” I turned to see who it was. No one was in the hall with me. Pete and the lady were standing in the door leading from the porch.
I walked over to the couch but it looked OK. I started to walk away when again I heard a whispered “Couch.”
I motioned for Pete to come to me. He came and looked at the couch. “No way that anyone could be under there,” he said.
I smiled and said, “Watch this.” I faced the couch and with my 190 pounds jumped up on it.
A scream came from under the couch and I jumped back down to the floor. Billy Joe came from under the couch flipping it over. He stood up and in a drunk voice said, “How did you know I was under there.”
“A little voice told me,” I said, placing the cuffs on him.
AFTER thinking back, was Goot’s ghost something he did or was it for real? If Christine was here she would say it was real.
Now the voice telling me Billy Joe was under the couch — was that imagination or was it real? As I have often stated there are things that I don’t understand so I just move on but keeping them in my memories.
Lonie Adcock of Rome is a retired Rome Police Department lieutenant. His latest book, “Memories of an Old Geezer,” is now available.