GHOST STORIES OF THE ADIRONDACKS
We're pleased to bring you a story from an Adirondack author, "Let There Be Light" by David Pitkins. Enjoy your a story. If you have a story, or a short tale you wish to share with other Adirondack reader's, please submit to us.
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Let There Be Light_______________________________________
Story from: Ghosts of the Northeast (2002). Author David J. Pitkin, the title of the book, ISBN#0-9663925-2-3.
Also Aurora Publications, PO Box 690, Chestertown, NY 12817. $18.95 plus tax.
Chet Boice left his home in South Colton, NY in 1917 to fight in World War I, and was a changed man when he returned. “Shell-shocked,” he had become a loner, preferring the company of children to adults. Most serious, he consumed almost a gallon of wine per day, according to Bill Smith, Chet’s next door neighbor in South Colton. Bill is renowned as an Adirondack musician and raconteur, and has a vivid memory of the old days.
He remembered, “Chet had been a mechanic before entering the service, but wasn’t worth a darn with mechanical things when he got back. He’d become pretty good with electrical things in the Army, however, and wired his two Tiffany floor lamps, hoping one day we’d get electric service in our Gulf Road neighborhood. A few months later, the power company said they would install the poles and wires if any three houses on the road would sign up for electricity.”
Chet signed up, along with Bill’s father and uncle, and the project began. Bill’s dad had a team of horses for hire, and profited by hauling away the brush and timber from the right of way. The three men and horses went to work each day, with young Bill watching from the sidelines. It was still the Depression years, and work was hard to find. Chet would return home exulting at night. He’d turn on his flashlight and move it around inside the kaleidoscopic Tiffany glass lampshades for his wife. “See! This is what electricity will look like! Won’t it be wonderful?” he exclaimed. He then began wiring his house.
A power company inspector arrived to view the crew’s progress and announced that if the remaining stand of brush was cleared by the end of the workday on Friday, the neighborhood could have electricity Monday noon. The crew redoubled their efforts on that last Friday, but by noontime Chet was pale and told Bill’s father that he felt sick and needed to go home. Sure, Bill’s father thought, I’ll bet he just wants to get at that bottle early today, but as they were almost done, he gave Boice permission to knock off early. Finishing up, Bill and his dad returned home, did the chores, had supper and went to bed.
During the night Bill awoke to hear his mother and father talking excitedly. Slipping out of bed, he went to their bedroom door just in time to hear his mother declare that Chet was in trouble. She had just seen his pale form looming over the bed. The entire family went downstairs to go next door. Before they could leave the house, however, a knock came at the door—it was Chet’s wife, with tears in her eyes. She wailed, “Come quick. Something’s happened to Chet. He’s on the floor and I can’t get him up!” In Chet’s living room they found him dead. They placed him in bed and called the undertaker. The Boices were neither well to do nor overly religious, and opted for a house funeral after the two-day wake period was fulfilled.
On Monday morning the preacher arrived and stood before the Army veteran’s open casket. Friends and neighbors gathered in Boice’s living room to say their good-byes. The undertaker, knowing the family couldn’t afford large candles at the head and foot of the casket, had moved Chet’s two lamps into those positions. Now, with family, neighbors and friends assembled at 10 a.m., the reverend began his prayers and eulogy.
A certain “opener,” he was sure, was the 23rd Psalm, calculated to restore hope and the certainty that God would not forget the man who labored in such difficulty throughout life. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” he intoned. Few were looking at the minister, seeming to gaze elsewhere in the room. “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, ” the preacher assured them. Now, not one of the assemblage seemed to see or hear the minister. In apparent rudeness, the group was looking wide-eyed at the area behind him. “He leadeth me beside the still waters, he restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake,” the minister continued more insistently. Shifting his gaze slowly to the side, so he could scan the casket, he continued, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…”
His prayer and eulogy stopped abruptly as he took in the scene behind him. Illuminating Chet’s body, both Tiffany lamps were brightly aglow. It was still almost two hours before the Power Company would send electricity! And the lamps were unplugged!
It seemed that Chet, released from his mortal confinement, had found the secret of sharing a heavenly light with his mourners. The soldier who returned from war as a childlike man may indeed have found the peace denied to him in life, but instead of keeping it to himself, had engineered a way to share it with them all.