When the Train Whistle Blows — Short, Spooky Story

When the Train Whistle Blows
By: Stephanie L. Robertson

Folks ‘round here say there’s a ghost that haunts the tracks running through the middle of Athens.

Do you believe them?

I do.

I seen her.

They say it’s the ghost of Perlie Gunn, waitin’ for her beau, Gilbert McCall.

And waitin’.

And waitin’.

Ever time you hear the train whistle on a dark, drizzling night.

1935 and Perlie was the purtiest gal of all at the ol’ wood school house. Just past her eighteenth birthday. Blue eyes and pert nose. Always wearing that blue flour-sack dress. A trip to town for her daddy to get something at that hardware store right over there.

Passed the ol’ Jefferson Street diner, where Gilbert McCall sat at his breakfast of sausage, eggs, and grits. Couldn’t recall ever seeing her before. Jumped right up from his table, fork and knife falling from his high-born hands. Left it to go meet the yeller-haired gal.


Was that little ol’ Perlie Gunn, all growed up?

Diner owner, Buzz Henshaw, just shook his head, wondering if McCall would remember to pay the check, but knowing the feller would fergit. There was no stopping true love.
Folks say Gilbert jogged after Perlie and they fell for each other like a fish for a worm, the minute their eyes met.

But Perlie stood no chance with a McCall.

Oh, no ma’me.

She was from the wrong side of the tracks.

Ol’ Judge McCall forbade their courtship, and her folks knew it would end bad. They knew a grimy-faced pig farmer’s daughter couldn’t land a high-falutin McCall.

But folks saw them two sneaking to meet for picnics or out and about Athens. They saw Gilbert, looking all moony-eyed, slipping out of the courthouse where he clerked that summer he was home from law school down in Tuscaloosa. They’d steal a kiss behind the drug store, when ol’ Judge was inside, fannin’ hisself from the summer heat.

Story goes that they were s’posed to meet down by the tracks at dusk. Run off an’ marry, they was, in McCall’s fine, red Ford coupe.

Something put Gilbert late. He heard that train come flying down them tracks and saw her standing and waitin’ on t’other side, her clothes in a beat up ol’ box. Musta slipped in them heels she borrowed from her Cousin Maylene. Ankle stuck fast in a gap twix the metal rail and wooden tie.

Train man near ripped the town apart with the sound of his brakes sliding towards Perlie. It was too late. They say that train drug her nigh forty feet afore Gilbert could blink a eye.
I heard tell Gilbert never went back to Tuscaloosa after that. Ended up somewheres over in Georgia. I never seen him since.

But I seen her walkin’.

Still wearing that blue flour sack dress.

Still looking for Gilbert after all these years.

On wet, foggy nights.

Walkin’ on the tracks when the train whistle blows.

Halloween Memories


Well, it’s Trick-or-Treat time again, and Princess Buttercup and her friends are ready!

This year they are going to dress up like characters in Steven Universe and hit several neighborhoods.

Last year, one of the dads put on a scary mask and overcoat and started following us from way back. If we would stop, he would stop. It was so freaky. When we got back to the hostess’s house, he came right up to one of the girls in the group.

I was ready to pounce on the guy and protect the girl with every bit of the mother bear instinct inside me.

Then he took off his mask, and the girl was like, “Dad!!!”


I remember having a green witch mask one year.

Do you remember wearing those plastic masks with the little circle breathing hole in the mouth and nostrils?

Those things were hard to breath in, got sweaty (icky!!!), and my long blond hair always got tangled in the elastic band that held the mask on.

What are your favorite Halloween memories?


Thanks so much to the following eBay sellers for being so kind and giving me permission to post their masks:

Yellowildflowers for Wonder Woman mask.

3rdflrretro for witch mask.



Have a Boo-tiful Halloween!

Find this at Rabbit's Nest Florist and Gifts!

Find this at Rabbit’s Nest Florist and Gifts!

It’s overcast outside. The clouds are dark, gray, and heavy over the orange-tinted trees.

It is what I think of as a perfectly bootiful Halloween!

Tonight, Princess Buttercup will dress up in her Halloween costume and join her spooky buddies in a candy-grabbing frenzy. Of course, we’re all Southern, so it will be a very polite scenario. Lots of parents will be in the background calling, “Say ‘thank you!'” and “Don’t walk on the grass! Use the sidewalk!”

The “Boo” pumpkins in the photo is a creation from my friend who owns and manages Rabbit’s Nest Florist and Gifts: http://www.rabbitsnestflowers.com. (The display is on Rabbit’s Nest Florist and Gifts’ FB page.) I haven’t been in her store yet, but I’m dying to go. She posted her design on her Facebook page, and I called her this morning and begged to use it for my blog. I’m tempted to shirk my writing and go on over and buy it!

Anyway, Happy Halloween! Hope you other parents won’t get too full of candy that you take from your kids’ Trick-or-Treat bags as “parent tax!”

Moving into November after Nutty Night at Mall

Witch_hatLast night was ghastly. And I’m not just talking about the blustery weather front that blew in.

We parents decided that the weather was so icky that we would take the kids trick-or-treating at the mall.

There were all varieties of spooks at the mall. I saw a bunch of kids wearing “Scream” masks, which totally freaked me out. I never even saw the movie—the TV trailers were enough to give me nightmares for weeks.

The mall was more crowded than Disney World. Here we were, with a whole gaggle of girls, trying to stay together, while navigating the crowd of spooks…all for about 3 pieces of candy and a couple of stickers that they handed out. Truly, it was crowded, and the mall stores soon ran out of candy.

Then, without any more candy incentives, the crowd filtered out.

We took our, Roman Empresses, Harry Potters, bunnies, beavers, witches, and super heroes to seats near the elevator and took bunches of pictures.

Lesson learned.

Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to go to the mall, in spite of the windy/rainy weather.

It was fun, anyway…kinda. We went to Burger King and bought ice cream and hoped for a more productive year next year.

Meanwhile, onward to November—one of my favorite months, with beautiful fall leaves and lots of turkey!

Harry Potter Garb

Harry Potter Garb

Bags for our 3 pcs of candy.

Bags for our 3 pcs of candy.

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