Now, I’m not saying I believe in ghosts per se – but I stand by the statement that Macon has more spirits than a Savannah cocktail party.
Here in Macon, our past seems always to be in step with our present, and call it what you will, but that feeling is as oddly comforting as a chenille blanket on a chilly night. I never truly feel alone anywhere in Macon – even when I am. I’m not saying I’m like that kid in The Sixth Sense. I don’t see grumpy dead people hiding under beds or behind doors. But I do feel something here in this beautiful city that I’ve never felt anywhere else.
What I can say for sure is ever since I’ve moved to the most darling little nest on College Street, one of the bathroom lights in my apartment inexplicably flickers at the oddest times - and stops when I ask it to. And then there’s my dogs. There’s a spot on the perimeter of nearby Daisy Park that completely wigs Margaret Thatcher out. No amount of tugging on her leash, pleading, or tempting her with treats will make her cross whatever ghostly threshold or apparition resides there. And Miss Oda Mae Brown seems to have made new friends here … that only she can see. Never in her life has that dog taken to standing in a corner of the room for extended periods of time while staring intently at the wall like an extra in The Blair Witch Project. Until now. Gives me the absolute shivers every time she does it.
Lately, I’ve become convinced all this uber-ghostliness is at least, in part, a result of our current close proximity to Macon’s two most historic cemeteries, Riverside and Rose Hill. So naturally, I was curious and a little excited to go and see for myself when the opportunity popped up to take the Spirits in October: Spirits Through the Centuries tour. The hour-or-soish walking tour, presented by the Historic Riverside Cemetery Conservancy, was entertaining, educational, a little spooky and fun. Especially so close to Halloween!
Guided by a talkative, friendly volunteer, our little tour group set out just as the sun was setting. By the end of the tour, of course, we were guided only by the stars, the moon, and the rows of luminaries placed intermittently along the footpath of the tour’s route.
Along the way, we all got the opportunity to meet and learn from almost a dozen of the 19,000 Maconites buried on these hallowed, exquisitely manicured grounds. Depicted by talented costumed actors, these ghosts of Macon past include a mix of pace-setters, politicians, entrepreneurs, social activists, and socialites. It was a perfect cross-section from across the centuries of the men and women who have played a role in “making Macon the place that it is today,” as the program says. I don’t want to spoil the surprises, but I can report the ghostly mix included the only man in the cemetery to be buried standing up, a history-making female architect, a children’s advocate, a former slave, and the city’s first pedestrian casualty from an auto accident.
Dates for this year's event are October 18-21 & 25-28. Just be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes - and skip dinner beforehand. A tasty reception in the public mausoleum at tour’s end is part of the package.