The time period was the late 1940s and early 1950s and the place was a small farming community in a Midwestern state of The United States — my home town if you will. I was about 8 years old at the time.
A little way down the main drag of the town, U.S. Highway 42, on the right-hand side (Close to the Catholic Church), there was a fairly small cottage with a big yard and a black iron picket fence around it all. The house was painted red for some reason.
In the red house there lived an elderly widow woman named “Winnie B.”
The word around town was that Winnie B., kept the ashes of her departed husband on her mantle in the living room of the little red cottage.
That story was enough to cause me to avoid walking past that house if at all possible. Sometimes it was not possible to avoid walking past that house because it was on the way to my Grandpa’s house and I went to visit with him sometimes.
But there was something chilling about it all for the mind of this 8-year-old to deal with.
The same is true about the burned out foundation of an old combination restaurant and living space once owned by a mysterious lady my parents called “Old Miss Mirand.”
It seems that the restaurant caught fire one evening and after the fire department had come and started their work, “Old Miss Mirand” rushed back into the burning building to retrieve some valuables. She never came back out but I was told that her screams of death as the fire consumed her were heard for blocks in the small town.
That was another place where kids avoided ….. all the kids except me, that is. I liked to poke around in the ashes of the burned out building hoping to find some of the jewelry that was said to have been lost in the fire. Of course I never found anything.