“Would you like to hear my ghost story,” the teacher asked.
I replied, “Is fat meat greasy?”
“Huh?” he said. Obviously he didn’t “get” that this was a “yes.”
I had just finished performing for his High School students, in a school near Beaumont, Texas. I told them several ghost stories from different parts of The Lone Star State and, as is often the case, I got swarmed after the show by kids who wanted to tell me about the ghosts they have heard about or even seen. I’m accustomed to that, but I just didn’t expect it from the teacher!
“When I was a teenager, a bunch of us went out ghost hunting on Jap Road,” he told me. But, I had to interrupt him with, “Did I hear you correctly? Is that the name of the road?”
“Yes,” he said. “They called it ‘Jap Road’ back then, but in the last few years there was a lot of controversy about it. I think they changed the name to ‘Japanese Road.” [Note: actually it was changed to “Boondocks Road“]
“Anyway, we had been told that if we drove down Jap R…, excuse me, Japanese Road late at night we would see an orange ball of light rushing toward us out of the darkness. It would disappear before it got near.”
“Wait,” I said. “That sounds like some of the legends surrounding Bragg Road, near Saratoga. Folks in Hardin County have been claiming to have seen ghost lights since the time of the Civil War.”
“Yeah,” he shrugged. “We may have had our urban legends mixed. But, we still went out there and drove up and down the road all night. We didn’t see a thing. No lights. Nothing exciting.”
“We decided to head back home, and we turned around. We hadn’t gone far when we saw one huge headlight that was smack dab in the center of the road. It was coming straight for us, so we pulled over to let them pass.”
“It turned out to be an old-time tractor chugging down the road,” he said. “The old coot that was driving it just stared straight ahead … he didn’t even wave to thank us for pulling over. He didn’t look at us at all.”
“As soon as he got past us, we pulled back on the road. All of us were complaining about how rude the geezer was. Then someone said, ‘Hey wait a minute! Did you hear that tractor when it went past us?’ None of us had heard a sound at all! We turned to look, and that tractor had completely disappeared! But, we ALL saw it.”
The man who told me this story swore up, down and sideways that it really happened. He and his buddies went on the wrong road looking for ghostly lights, and they saw a different ghostly light altogether. I’ve been searching to see if I could find out about other people seeing strange things on Boondocks Road (formerly known as “Jap Road”). So far, I’ve got nothing.
If you know anything about a haunting on that road, or know of any ghostly stories from that area, I would love to hear them!
Photograph courtesy of Portal to Texas History. Oliver Lug Wheel Tractor, Photograph, 1930-1940; digital image, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth222752/ : accessed February 10, 2014), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Danish Heritage Preservation Society, Danevang, Texas.