Visits from ghosts and poltergeists:
Ghosts have been seen in other parts of the Barbee Lakes area. There is a story about a house down the road from the Tumble Inn. Andy Kuzma and Sara Alberson tell of a woman who used to live in that cottage. She always kept the house clean, and people who rent the cottage now often wake up in the morning to find their house clean. The motifs in this story are all Irish myths: "House spirits" (F480), "Grateful fairies do house work" (F339.3.1), and "Man finds house put in order" (N831.1.1).
"Ghost of Earl visits Tumble Inn kitchen" is a story that has been told by Meng several times. In her story, Earl, who was Opal Walburn’s second husband ("loved by none in the family"), visits the kitchen after his death and gets a beer out of the refrigerator. After he looked at Meng, he disappeared. The motifs in this story are "Spirit takes food from table or cupboard" (F473.6.3), "Ghost drinks" (E541.4), and "Ghost drinks alcoholic beverage" (E556.1). These three motifs were all collected in stories from England and the United States.
Two slightly different stories are told about an uncle returning to the Tumble Inn after his death. In both stories, the uncle pays a visit, and leaves, and then it is discovered that the uncle was killed before he came to visit. So essentially, the ghost of the uncle came to the cottage, not the uncle himself. In one version of the story, the ghost of the uncle plays cards and drinks beer. Motifs for this story are "Ghost drinks alcoholic beverage" (E556.1) and "Dead persons play cards" (E557.2), both from the United States; and "Playing cards with a dead man (ghost)" (E557.2), a Lithuanian story.
Three stories concern movement of objects, seemingly by their own power: suitcases, crutches, and a porch swing have been heard moving in the Tumble Inn. No one is sure what moves these objects: it is thought to be a ghost or perhaps a poltergeist. Motifs in these stories are "Things thought to be ghosts" (J1782) and "Poltergeists" (F47off), which are motifs found in folk stories almost everywhere. Jennifer Sheridan believes that the porch swing is moved by the spirits of Vernon and Opal Walburn. A motif that would correspond with that story is "Ghosts reenact scene from own lifetime" (E337) from the United States.
P.V. tells a story about Herron Lake, and the ghostly lights, or "will o’ the wisps" lead people into thinking that there are ghosts there. Will o’ the wisps are common among folklore. They are jack o’ lanterns or strange lights that appear, often deceiving people. The motif found in the story of "Herron Lake ghosts" is "Will o’ the wisp leads people astray" (F491.1) from England, the United States, and Scotland; and "Mists which lead astray" (K1886.2) from Ireland.
Stories Inspired by Technology and Pop Culture:
These stories are recent, but they all have in common motifs that are in Irish myths. For example, Molly Sheridan and Bethany Kuzma tell in their stories about how the cell phone won’t work in the cemetery. Molly mentions that that her mom and aunts were standing at the grave of Bob Brindle when they tried to make the phone call. Two days later, Bob’s wife is killed in a car accident. The fact that the cell phone wouldn’t work could be seen as a death prophecy, giving the story the motifs of "Death prophesized" (M341) and "Prophecy of an early death" (M341.1.2), both Irish myths.
Pete Kuzma tells a story that he believes is about guardian angels. The "Guardian angel" motif (V238) is also an Irish myth. Bob Sheridan recalls a story of when he woke up in the middle of the night in Muncie Indiana and felt compelled to call the cottage. He dreamt that he heard his wife call for help so vividly, that it woke him up and he had to call. He found out that his family was awake chasing a "window-peeper." The motif in this story is "Person hears call for aid from a great distance" (D1827.2), another Irish myth.
Gena Sheridan believes that the Walburn name may be cursed, since many of those with that last name have had really bad luck. The "curse on families" motif (M460) is another Irish myth. Even stories that appear to be modern in nature have some motifs found in older folk tales.
Stories about the Tumble Inn have been passed through several generations. As long as the cottage stays in the family, stories will continue to be told.
Read the Works Cited.
Return to Part 4: Local Characters and Back Bedroom.
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