Friday, June 12, 2015

Pink Nightgown and Curlers

A favorite folklorist is William Lynwood Montell. He wrote a book entitled Ghosts Across Kentucky. In it he shares a tale about a wife who is murdered by her husband in a jealous rage.

Ruth Ann Musick another favorite folklorist shares a West Virginia tale similar to Montell’s called The Fortune-Teller’s Warning. This tale is located here.

Montell’s tale is a first-person account.

When I was a teenager my family moved into an old house in Brandenburg, Kentucky.

I was assigned a bedroom but I preferred sleeping on the living room couch in front of the television. One night I stayed up late reading. It was around midnight when my dog Krypto began to growl and act strange.

His hair was standing on end and he was trembling. He continued to growl.

I looked up from my book and saw a woman standing in one corner of the room. She was looking at me. She wore a pink nightgown and had pink curlers in her hair. She didn’t say anything.

I assumed it was my mom, checking up on me. I said, “Alright, I am going to sleep now.” I then turned over and switched off the light.

When I woke up the next morning I remembered how Krypto had behaved and wondered why he was so nervous around my mom.

While I ate breakfast I asked my mom what she had wanted the night before. She asked me what I meant.

“What did you want when you came out into the living room last night? You just stood there and didn’t say anything.”

“I didn’t get up last night.”

“Yes you did. You were standing there just looking at me. You had on a pink nightgown, and had pink curlers in your hair.”

“I don’t own a pink nightgown or pink curlers. If you don’t believe me, check for yourself.”

Later, I did check her bathroom and discovered she only had green and yellow curlers.

I puzzled over this incident for several weeks then one day while talking to a neighbor of ours, Mrs. Miller--who lived in the house in front --she helped me solve this mystery.

She mentioned the young lady who used to live in our house had died.

She and her husband had lived there several years back. The husband wasn’t around much. He was a soldier stationed at Fort Knox.

The pair had eloped and the husband had never met his wife’s family.

The young bride became ill and her brother came to visit. The husband got a surprise furlough and came home just as the brother was saying goodbye to his sister.

As the soldier walked in their bedroom to surprise his wife he saw another man bend down and kiss her. She was in bed in her nightgown.

Her husband assumed the worst. He ran her brother off not listening to his attempts to explain. He then went back in and beat his wife while she lay in bed until she was unconscious.

He went out back and got a can of gasoline and drenched his wife with it and set her on fire. The beating didn’t kill her but the fire did.

Mrs. Miller heard him yell as he ran out of the house. “She will never cheat on me again.” Seeing smoke coming from one window she called the police.

She then told me when they carried the young girl’s body out she saw the edge of a pink nightgown and pink curlers on the top of her head.

Apparently, every time someone new moves into the house, the ghost of this girl comes back to see who it is.

Mrs. Miller stated she thinks the young bride is just waiting for her husband to return so she can get revenge.

Our old house still stands in Brandenburg.

Dr. Lynwood Montell
The Fortune-Teller’s Warning and the tale above are good examples of how quickly ghost tales travel and then take on local flavor.

Another tale Montell collected is here.

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