Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Horrors: Is The Thing Still Making Appearances?

Posted By on Wed, Oct 31, 2012 at 7:02 AM

No, no that Thing.
  • No, no that Thing.
A year ago, I wrote a story for the Scene about The Thing, a ... um ... thing that Ben and Sue Allen used to conjure up in their house and then inflict on their friends back in the 1800s. It kind of bummed me out that something could be such a big deal that, for decades, people would fight to be invited to the seances where it was invoked, and then something else catches the public imagination (like the Bell Witch) and now no one remembers there even was a Thing, let alone remembers that it used to be the darling of polite society.

But recently, I read Nashville: Haunted Handbook by Jeff Morris, Donna Marsh and Garett Merk, which is a lovely collection of legends about Middle Tennessee ghosts and I came to the entry about Centennial Park, which reads, in part:

In the section of the park near the funeral home, people have felt something like a cat rubbing against their ankles. When they look down to see what is at their feet, there is nothing there. Sometimes these hapless victims find that their shoes have been untied.

Margaret Lindsley Warden, famed Tennessean writer and somewhat distant cousin of the Allens, describes a seance in which The Thing makes an appearance:

A rush of wind that rustled the ladies’ voluminous petticoats usually announced the arrival of The Thing. Some felt The Thing to be like a large cat, others like an arm without hand or fingers. Besides rubbing legs, unbuttoning high-buttoned shoes, and rattling silver and china, other phenomena were attributed to it. The big table would rise and push people around the room. An occasional putrid odor would necessitate circle breaking and window opening.

A cat-like entity that unties shoes. And you know who lived in the house that is now that funeral home in Centennial Park after she left her beloved home on Spruce?

Marshall-Donnelly-Combs has been proud to serve Nashville and the surrounding areas for more than 150 years. Our founder, M.S. Combs, established the funeral home in the mid-1800s on the corner of Cherry and Spring streets in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. We moved to our current location, the home of Sue Allen, on the east corner of historic Centennial Park in 1924.

Sure, it could be a coincidence that we're still telling each other strange stories about a catlike thing that seems to hang out in Sue Allen's yard. I mean, it must be. Just a coincidence. Certainly no reason to be freaked out about that corner of the park, even though it always seems darker and cooler than the rest of the park. Nothing to be afraid of.

Did you just feel something brush against you?

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