Thursday, March 20, 2014

When The Bough Breaks...

Dating back, at least, to 1785 is this Mother Goose rhyme familiar to most people:

Hush-a-by baby
On the tree top,
When the wind blows
The cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks,
The cradle will fall,
And down will fall baby
Cradle and all.

A cheerful little ditty to be certain but in 1875 in northern Georgia near the Kentucky border there was a report of spectral vision that seemed to play out a real life, but fatal, version of this same child's 'dandling' song. ("A Ghost in the Form of A Baby" Atlanta Constitution (25 August 1875)2.)
On a Sunday night Robert Gorman, Downingtown, another man and two women passed by a certain stretch of road said to be near Welsh MT, between Morgantown (Fannin Co., ) and Waynesboro (Burke Co.), 1/4 mile from the main road. 
As they passed they heard the most 'heartrending cries" as if someone were being beaten or murdered.
A Miss Ellie Parker of Paoli, saw a basket swinging in a tree.  Swinging back and forth...faint cries coming from its interior.   The sight and the sound disturbed the couples and the men began to plan how they might climb the small rise and get through the thick brush to the tree, when the child screamed and the basket crashed down through the limbs. Shocked, they hurried forward, but then saw it clearly back in its place on the higher limb, swinging gently in place in a breeze, and the child once more whimpering within.
Despite what they saw, as they watched all could swear they were looking at a living baby and this terribly disturbed the young ladies who began to weep and held to one another for comfort and support.
Not knowing what else to do  the couple left and hurried to the next town. As quickly as could be done, a search party hurried back to the spot early the next day.  Mr. J.S. Peters, Lancaster Co., said he did indeed see the basket, saw the baby in it move, heard its pitiable cries and then saw it disappear as well. For two weeks, it was said, witnesses from all around came to hear and see the mystery.  What happened, or proof of the story, has not been found but it does cause the skin to tingle at the thought of what might have been seen and the mind to wonder how it might have come about.
Of course, it could have been someone's boredom showing in a story composed to simply fill space but it is interesting.  Like so many true ghost stories its lack of details is matched only by the emotional response it brings out.
If you were traveling a lonely country road and heard the whimpering cries of a baby and saw a basket swinging slowly back and forth in the cool breeze, could you go check? Would you?
The next time you heard that familiar chant would it be with a slight shudder and a tiny shiver?
When the bough breaks,
The cradle will fall,
And down will fall baby...
Cradle and all.

--Marilyn A. Hudson, excerpt from "The Ghost Teller Chronicles"

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