Stanly County author Sara Pitzer has penned more than a dozen books, mostly dealing with travel and/or food. She spent last year and part of 2013 writing “Haunted Charleston: Scary Sites, Eerie Encounters, and Tall Tales,” which was published this summer ($14.95, Globe Pequot Press).
The weeks before Halloween seemed like a good time to interview her.
The Gullah tales are important – they’re black people’s stories in what had been a hugely white-oriented community.
And the Internet is making a huge difference. People used to get stories from oral culture or from books, and retold them. Now in Charleston, people go and stay at places that are advertised to have ghosts – or reputedly have them – just for that experience. …
Some of the tour guides in Charleston use this line there: “What do you have to have to have ghosts?” The answer is, “Dead people.” I would add, “Most of the time, they had to die in some bad way.”
The very age of the city may have something to do with this: There’s more time for more things to have happened.
My two favorites are Gullah legends: “Don’t Let the Boo Hag Ride Ya” and Jimmy Beats the Plat-Eye.”
I like them because they use two standard Southern concepts. The boo hag is a creature that looks like a pretty girl but isn’t ... when she leaves her skin. The plat-eye is a shape shifter.
In some stories, the ghost gets into the bed of a female hotel guest. In other cases, it just materializes and scares the hell out of the guest.
This is a building that goes back to 1829; it served various military purposes before opening in 1843 as the South Carolina Military College – the Citadel. There were probably suicides and hazings of new cadets who weren’t liked.
When The Citadel moved in 1992, the old building was restored and renovated as the Embassy Suites. The hotel staff has had so many ghostly experiences.
And take your cellphone. If something happens in the dark – maybe break a leg in a fall – you may need help. Have everybody take a cellphone. Places that are haunted are said to frequently drain batteries of devices, but I don’t know why.