POINT PLEASANT — A favorite pastime for campfire gatherings, and Point Pleasant, is telling a story of strange happenings and unexplainable events.
With the tenth annual Mothman Festival approaching this weekend, the recollection of the strange events beginning on Nov. 15, 1966, and continuing until the collapse of the Silver Bridge on Dec. 15, 1967, will come together for one big celebration. In addition to these stories and events being retold at the Mothman Festival, the Mason County Public Library will also be hosting “Hauntings in the Hills: An evening of Appalachian Ghost Stories” beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14.
Telling their share of stories at the library will be Jackson County storyteller Susanna Holstein, also known as “Granny Sue,” and Storyteller Jason Burns of Morgantown.
“Ghost stories are found in every county in West Virginia,” Holstein said. “Almost every community has some tale of strange events that occurred in the area. Most of these stories are based, at least in part, on fact. If you are interested in West Virginia ghost stories and folklore, this is the program for you.”
Burns, who also works with the West Virginia Spectral Heritage Project, a project that works to research, preserve, and perform ghost and monster stories from around the state of West Virginia, also shared some of the reasons why there may be so many ghost stories floating around West Virginia.
“If you have ever spent time in the mountains, you have probably watched the evening mist rise from hollows between the hills,” Burns said. “Certainly the mist appears ghost-like and could have inspired some stories.”
While some may avoid these types of stories out of fright or another reason, Holstein also noted the difference between a horror story and a ghost story.
“Most ghost stories are not horrific tales,” Holstein said. “A ghost story can create suspense or fear and leave the listener frightened or just curious. We might wonder about how such things could actually happen. Deadly events occur, certainly-someone had to die to become a ghost. The stories, however, do not focus on ‘blood and guts’ but on how and why events occurred.”
Holstein also discussed why listening to a story is a more powerful experience, rather than watching a movie.
“The listener creates his or her own images as the teller tells the tale,” Holstein said. “We can create mental images that are as graphic and frightening as we want them to be, or we can choose to create images with less horrible visuals. Each listener’s experience is unique. Each will ‘see’ a different story. That’s why storytelling has been around so long. What other kind of media lets you do that?”
It was stated this evening of stories will be suitable for children ages 10 and up, as well as adults, and will include several stories and songs. For more information, contact the Mason County Library at 304-675-0894.