By Rick Hinton
There are those songs that bring back memories of a time long ago, when life was an experience of discovery with a sense of mystery attached. Back then one could never imagine growing old. Nor, imagine the people surrounding them not being there for all time. Days of summer were endless… time crept at a snail’s pace. Unfortunately, as we grow older time accelerates as months and years become a blur in the rear-view mirror. And, a small town in southern Kentucky where my interest in the paranormal began…
Jamestown, sitting upon Lake Cumberland, was my entry of discovery. It’s remained timeless to this day, changing little since the days of my youth. It’s a large and a beckoning playground for the tourists, yet seasonally they go home, with Jamestown returning as it’s always been – locked into the past.
Grandmother Lucille worked as a cook at a restaurant in Russell Springs in those summers of my youth. She was a southern chef on a level all her own! Many of those summers I would spend a couple of weeks going to work with her at the restaurant. She would plant me at a table with an endless supply of Mountain Dew (the original, with pure cane sugar) as she cooked for the noontime lunch crowd. And there was the jukebox: tall and lighted, sitting by the front door. The door was always opened from the heat of the kitchen and no air conditioning. In 1964, the music would feed out onto the sidewalk and the town’s street. Dusty Springfield’s “Wishin’ and Hopin” and the Drifter’s “Under the Boardwalk.” It made an imprint, never failing in later years to associate those memories with the smell of cheeseburgers and French fries.
We’d return home at the end of her shift. Grandfather Arnold would eventually arrive from his job at the Jamestown Dock, lighting a cigarette and watching the TV news from his recliner as my grandmother prepared dinner. Her cooking never ended! Afterward, I’d sit on the porch, contemplating the day, music, and the paranormal. It got awfully dark there!
Small towns are rather mum on the subject of ghosts. If asked, you get not only that far-away look, but also a slight smile upon the lips revealing nothing, yet, speaking volumes! The small house on Sunset Drive in Jamestown raised six children. It still stands. Although no longer in the family since my uncle’s death in 2015, it’s where it all began for me. There were stories from my mother about seeing an apparition of her sister, Mary Lou, who died in 1941. She never wavered from her experience. Grandma Lucille always gave a tight-lipped smile when asked about it. Grandpa Arnold would light another cigarette and not comment.
A solitary streetlight cast a dim expanse of light over my grandparent’s house at night. As kids it was a limited oasis in a world of surrounding darkness, as crickets chirped, lightning bugs flashed and nighttime shrouded the property into shadows. Darkness became my and other grandkids (Indiana and Kentucky) refuge, as we put lightning bugs into mason jars and explored the darkness; yet, within limits. We would terrorize Arnold’s tobacco field, but never venture into the field beyond the backyard. It was too dark and beyond the streetlight’s grasp. And safety! There was just too much unknown back there!
As for now, the music continues…
“Wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’… plannin’ and dreamin’… each night of his charms, that won’t get you into his arms.”
Dusty Springfield, 1964