Whitesburg KY

Haint tales keep campfire burning bright

There are thousands of people out there both here and elsewhere who get quite a bit of enjoyment out of reading The Mountain Eagle. And I bet many of those readers can remember old timers as they sat around and told ghost stories or haint tales.

The haint tales had the most effect if told at a good location away from civilization a ways. But as light slowly faded into darkness, all the youngsters would keep moving closer to the campfire. Sometimes even the older ones would come down with haint fever and ease up just a mite closer to the fire. But they wouldn’t own up to it for the world, too proud you know.

All in all the tales had the most effect on youngsters. If someone hollered “boo” during the telling of a tale, they could easily jump clear across a roaring fire and not singe a hair. They were sure to keep a roaring fire going, but it seems there was one flaw to keeping a fire. They would keep piling on the wood in order to keep the surrounding area lit up, and they would keep piling the wood on until there was no wood left.

When all the wood was gone they would have to go to bed, usually in a tent or camper. When bedtime came they would all want to sleep in the same location or sleep with a light on and cover up their head and ears once everyone settled in for the night.

It was a different sight while they were around the fire. You could see quite a few heads which seemed to be on backward because the campers would cast a quick look behind them to make sure there weren’t any eyes glaring at them out of the darkness. When they turned in for the night it would get as quiet as a church mouse.

I had a troop of Boy Scouts back in the ’70s and I’ll have to admit the thought of taking them on a camping trip did cross my mind. But I couldn’t get much help from the dads. Mothers were all too eager to help, but they could only do so much, besides, it wouldn’t be any fun without a good storyteller. You know, the kind that was windy enough to blow up an onion sack.

There have been so many haint stories told about the cemetery that you will find many youngsters who won’t go near any cemetery during daylight hours, much less after dark. Actually a cemetery is one of the safest places to spent the night if you have nowhere else, because dead people will do you no harm, only live ones.

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