Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ghost Walk of New Bern

The above flower is called Turk's Cap. This bush captured my attention in the gardens of the Tryon Palace. Another plant which I noticed in the gardens is the loblolly bay. I knew there was a loblolly pine, so what is the connection?  An interpretive sign by the bay tree explained that loblolly was the term for a thick soup dish, in this particular case it refers to the swampy areas where the trees are found. We started our second day of touring in New Bern again back at the history museum. We wanted to catch a  show presented by the local radio station, WHT. The show, Count Dracula, was produced by the station in the 1940s. The stage production of the story was done so the audience could see how the sound effects were produced when the story was heard over the radio. The"Ghostwalk" is an annual Halloween event in historic New Bern. This year it involved more than 30 spirits at 16 ghost sites sharing the stories of their lives. These ghosts were people who lived, or had a connection with New Bern, at some time during the 300 years of the town's existence.New Bern certainly has talented people who did well in acting as those ghosts! We heard the spirit of Harry Truman speak about his visit to the First Baptist Church in 1948, and Will Rogers talk about his newspaper article in 1933 complaining about the outrageous cost of the federal court building in New Bern. In 1862 the Battle of New Bern occurred and the city fell to the Union Army. We stopped at a civil war encampment depicting the aftermath of that event. There we saw the dead or dying soldiers;  there was lots of blood and gore with screams of agony in one of the surgery stations. It was all set up to be quite frightening for Halloween, but the fact that in 1862 it was a real happening hit me pretty hard.  At the historic masonic theater we saw pieces of  the shows over the years. Elvis Presley performed there at one time with a band, so we saw his ghost perform. Then we went to the sublime part of the evening and attended a concert of Gospel music at the St.Peter's AME Zion Church. It would have been fun to hear the spirits speak at Cedar Grove Cemetery, but by the time we were ready to walk over there the mosquitoes were out in large numbers. After getting our free samples of soda at Bradham's Drug Store ( we also heard his ghost there talk about how he created Pepsi), and then hearing Madame Moore (1760s) speak at the Episcopal Church, we were more than ready to call it an evening. We would have like to have seen a lot more than we did, but four hours was all the time we had that evening to cover everything.  Today, Sunday, we stopped at the town's historic cemetery after church. A sign there explained that yellow fever in New Bern in 1798-99 filled the cemetery and additional lots needed to be purchased. We saw the gravestones there of soldiers who died in 1862 at the Battle of New Bern. Below is a picture of the monument marking that area and honoring the 70 confederate soldiers who died protecting the city.

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