Winchester & Avard Ghosts
"I don't know that I know enough about Woods County's ghost towns to pick out a favorite, but your inquiry brought three things to mind from my childhood and teen years that I was either told about or witnessed first-hand.
I don't know if the first two have any credence or not, but the first was told to me by older members in my family (my mother and a couple of older siblings) and the other by my father. They go like this:
Many years ago... (in the 1920's or 1930's, I think) a man attended a Saturday night party in Avard and became quite inebriated. When he left, he notified no one but roared out of town headed straight west. Unfortunately, Lake Avard was in its prime about that time and directly in the path that he took. He shot off through the park adjacent to the lake and straight into the large pond. His car sank and he drowned. No one knew what happened to him and quite some time went by before the car was discovered. Needless to say, the body was in badly decomposed condition and I won't describe what happened when they tried to remove it from the car. But every time I went to Lake Avard after hearing the story, I always wondered if the man's spirit was still in the water of that impoundment.
The next story involves the one my dad told me... We used to go fishing at a cut-off on the river about eight miles below Alva. There was the foundation of an old house beside it that was occupied when the river flowed through that channel. While we were fishing one day, my dad told me that some men were playing poker in that house back in the twenties, an argument broke out, and one man drew a pistol and shot another man dead. Again, I have no names to attach to this story, but my dad also told me that a very young boy was in the house at the time. He did tell me the name of this boy, but I've forgotten it over the years. Whenever I stood within the foundation after that, a creepy feeling would come over me and I felt a lonely empathy for the young boy, wondering what it must have been like for him. Maybe that's the way my dad wanted it. He was a pretty good practical jokester.
The third involves... a wrinkled little old lady named Mattie Jones. She lived at Winchester, Oklahoma northwest of Alva when the population of Winchester was one. She ran a small grocery and notions store (a leaning, wooden false-front building like something right out of the old west) and many of the things she kept on the shelves were so old that I don't think they even made them any more. But she was friendly and personable and was said to be well off. The place was lit with coal oil lamps (maybe a little bit of electricity) and I believe there was one of those old gasoline pumps that you pumped the number of gallons you wanted into a graduated glass cylinder on top and then let the gasoline gravity-feed down into your gas tank through the hose. Our family took a Sunday drive up through that country one time when I was about fifteen or so, and she showed us all of the things in her living quarters, which were in the east side of the store. She had everything from old quilts and coal-oil lamps to stuffed animals in there. In her later years I believe she had to go to a nursing home in Alva where she spent the remainder of her life. I always wondered about her lone existence there and what a lonesome life she must have led. In that country, though, the people hang together and I imagine she was checked on often. But every time I drive around the double curve before the south approach to Winchester Bridge, I think of that aged lady and her lonely existence and wonder if perhaps her spirit is still there somewhere." -- Jim
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