Of course, The West is an appropriately creepy place. Our long vistas, howling winds, switchback roads, misty fogs, the ancient buildings, more ramshackle than not, and the loneliness and the resulting craziness, make us a fine people and place for ghosts to haunt.
My favorite "for reals" TV ghost story, and I'm a sucker for those, happened in Silver City, reputedly one of the most haunted places in the West. I'd heard stories about that town for decades. Two young, beautiful reporters spent the night in the bar and the hotel. They were getting locked into or out of places, usually with a massive slam of the door, that somehow refused to open after. It could have been ghosts or it could have just been the old buildings, having a laugh at their expense. Either way, they hightailed it out of town in the middle of the night.
More. Than. They. Wanted.
I have a family ghost story. Aren't those the best kind anyway? My cousin, Pat, died of a heart attack when she was in her 50s, just a few days before her daughter, Vicki, married. Talk about a tough wedding. Everybody cried all the way through that. Fast forward a few years, long enough for Vicki and her husband to have their first child and for that little girl to be between three and four years old. This was a family that had fun together. Vicki and Nicole came to visit Great Grandma and Great Grandpa, and were there for a long weekend. Poor little Nicole was having a time of it. She was crying and fussy all weekend, kept talking about the "lady in the corner," which scared her. Nicole would point her out. Nobody else could see "the lady in the corner." On the morning, they were leaving, Grandma picked up little Nicole to take her to the car. There, Nicole pointed, there is the "lady in the corner." The little girl pointed to Pat's high school graduation photo on top of the fireplace mantle.
Most of this story is true.
I've had lots of creepy feelings in this state. I remember fogs when I was younger that would be so thick, you couldn't see through them for days. The un-nervingest of those fogs hung over us at just over roof-top high. It gave the street light a really odd cast.
Old barns can scare the willies out of you too, especially when the old boards don't exactly keep out the wind and the cold. You can see through the slats of wood. In the daylight, fine. When the wind is blowing or at night, the sound of the wind howling through those old buildings makes you think the devils themselves have come straight out of hell, moaning and shrieking, to eat you alive.
When I was much younger, I hiked into a high mountain ghost town, Boulder City in central Idaho. The place weirded me out. Maybe it was the plants, high above the tree-line, that were mangled by the wind, or the crazy-making greed that comes with gold mines, or maybe the long solitary winters, any way it felt haunted to me. I said as much to an old friend who had grown up in the area about it. He said, "No, not Boulder City. There are places like that in Idaho, but that isn't one of them."
Still and all.
My absolute best story was the story of my brother and a favorite cousin who were going to spend the night in a camper shell in the rural front yard, where the farm equipment was kept. The boys were about ten years old. It all went well until about midnight. The lights were out, the wind was up. And then slowly, it began to dawn on the boys that they weren't alone. "That breathin you?" Mike whispered. What ever it was, it snored deeply. "Nope," my brother was holding his breath and trying to talk. That was enough to send both boys screaming into the house. My uncle had to go look by himself, since the kids had had enough for one night. What did he find? Two hunting dogs. They were the "ghosts." They had scrambled into the camper quietly for big guys.
Which brings me around to my own Halloween memories. There were 8 family farms in my country neighborhood where we would Trick or Treat. Each mama would make something wonderful. We wound up with 8 treats, each one better than the last.
Things like brownies with frosting, snickerdoodles, popcorn balls, Rice Crispy treats, giant Hershey's bars, pretty baggies of candy corn and peanuts, carmel apples, lemon bars, black jelly beans and orange slices, lots of those. Two hundred itty-bitty candy bars do not do it for me. But those homemade treats can reduce me to a slobbering mess.
Then too, there could still be a ghost or two, still hanging around the old neighborhoods. I was thinking those ghosts might be more like Casper.