It was a dark stormy night

posted Oct 31, 2013, 6:11 PM by Paul Wagner

Just in time for a nice chat around the campfire…

No, we’re not going to tell ghost stories, even though it is Halloween--and not because we don’t know any. In fact, we have quite a rich collection, between the ones we’ve collected from other campers, and the more professional works of Poe, et al.

But it just not the same, sitting at a computer and writing (or reading) these stories. You really have to be there, out in the woods, with a few younger people (not too young!) to add the just right touch to the audience. Over the years, we’ve heard a long list, and we’ve also learned that most of these have made the rounds for many years and in many different places in the country. Bloody Bones will get you! Give me back my Golden Arm!

We’ve even got a few that are a little bit scary, but not too scary, so that we can tell them to younger kids. The Coffin that comes up out of the basement and chases you through the house until it traps you in the bathroom, where you pull out a cough drop and the coughin’ stops. Ahem. And the voice that comes to the new widow to tell her that It Floats…it floats….Yes, Ivory Soap floats….

But one year P had to come up with three of these lite ghost stories, for three different sessions of a summer camp. The first session got the coffin, and the second one got the Ivory Soap…but he didn’t really have a good one for the third session.

Of course he knew another ghost story, one that had been told to him as a child and that happened right in his home town of Coalinga CA. It seems that there was a strange man in town, one who had a very sad history and had lost his hand in a terrible accident, and in its place he wore…The Hook.  

And he violently attacked young lovers in parked cars...There were numerous versions of the story--but the ending was always the same.  When the young couple drove off in a panic and finally pulled the car into the gas station, they both agreed it was in all their imagination.  And then they looked at the door handle and screamed.  There, hanging from the handle was...The Hook.

But really, The Hook is too scary for little kids. So P called a good friend of his and asked for his help.

The friend was more than happy to suggest a story that had happened right in the town where he had grown up, Pleasanton, CA—150 miles from P’s home town. It all turned on the fact that young couples who were parked in the country were being mysteriously attacked by a crazy man who had no right arm, and instead had only…A Hook.

Nope. That won’t do. So P arrived at the campfire that night determine to invent a story that would strike the right balance between just a little bit scary and a little bit funny.

But before he could start, one of the other counselors approached him and offered to help. It turns out that this counselor had the perfect story to tell the kids.

And as the counselor began the story, P had a bad feeling. It all began just a few years ago, right there in the small mountain town where the camp was located. An old man lost his arm in a logging accident, and….

Yep. Replaced it with a hook.

Every town in America must tell The Hook to its kids…