Richard G. Santos
Dinky (a nickname) says she was about six years of age when she first saw the light. It seems that one cool night in Fall her father took her and her mother for a ride into the darkened countryside. It was late at night. She does not remember what time it was when her father parked the car and turned off the headlights. Sitting on the back seat, Dinky quickly put her chin on the front seat between her parents to see what lay ahead. The harvest moon shone its light upon the north central Texas Plains as an old two story house came into view. The house had apparently been empty for a long time as indicated by dangling boards, doors hanging sideways and broken windows. Off to the left of the house was a tall barn without doors. I could not see the interior but easily imagined stalls for horses, farm and ranching tools hanging on broken walls and a ladder leading to the hayloft, she said with a certain amount of excitement.
œHere it comes, said her father softly as she held his wifes left hand. Watch and don’t make a sound.â€ Dinkys mother reportedly sighed deeply and placed her right hand to her lips as if to quiet herself. Hovering off the ground on the left side of the barn was a glowing image. It was not human-shaped as it had no head or feet. I was like an elongated glowing oval that moved very slowly along the outside left wall. First it moved toward the front, stopped as if looking at us, then floated along the wall to the rear. Again it stopped and started floating to the front. Back and forth it went a number of times as it looking for something, someone or maybe a way into the barn. After a while my mother said lets go, I have seen enough so we left. To this day I do not know what I saw or what it was. There was no explanation then and I have no explanation today. I remember it clearly and until today I had only told my children and no one else.
My friend Dinky is not the only person who has experienced an inexplicable incident and never told anyone other than the closest relatives. It is difficult to explain something the person does not understand. There is also the fear of people laughing in disbelief. So many stories of apparitions remain secret, unsaid and unrecorded.
The same is true for Miss M. I. who says she remembers still sleeping in a crib with her sister at about age two and seeing stuffed clowns crawling up the railings threatening to jump into the crib! I asked if she was sure about being roughly age two and she aggressively assured me she remembers it well. Setting the age question aside, she recalls how scared she was of all clowns of any size, living or stuffed. Listening to her I suspected she still hesitates when it comes to circus or party clowns.
Miss M. I. also recalls as a young girl of elementary school age laying in bed and seeing the rooms furniture and other items floating upside down in the air above her head. Screaming for her mother the items quickly returned to their places as soon as someone entered the room. In discussing this incident she agreed these scenes may have occurred when she was ill and had a high fever. In other words, without saying it, she informally agreed she could have been hallucinating while suffering from the flu or other high fever causing malady. She added no one believed her as a child and does not readily share these two experiences with anyone. Surprisingly, she added her sister with whom she shared the crib up to about age three recalls the climbing, menacing stuffed clowns! You figure.
Meanwhile, Mr. G from the Asherton-Catarina corridor remembers some spooky experiences from his childhood. Like most in that area of Texas, the sound of galloping horses, bull whips cracking in the air and wagons with clanking chains were also heard by G. Stories of hidden treasures, flames shooting from out of the ground late at night and strange floating masculine and feminine glowing shapes in the monte, along unpaved country roads and specific paths are also recalled.
So we ask, just how many ghost stories and inexplicable incidents are there along the three different routes of the Camino Real de los Tejas? There is no question many people lost their lives along the routes; some by natural causes, others by accident and still others through hostile and/or criminal acts. Battles between Native American tribes and clans featured both killings and cannibalistic rituals. So are there any spirits of an Indian killed in battle or his/her body parts eaten at a religious mitote haunting specific places and sites? What about the early Spanish explorers on official or unofficial expeditions crossing the area? How many of those who died along the routes of the Camino Real are still lingering on-site without eternal peace? Then there are the known Mexican merchants taking goods to San Antonio de Bexar being assaulted, robbed and killed by hostile tribes or bandidos of diverse ethnic background.
After statehood in 1848, the area quickly entered the period called The Indian Wars so how many Native American or early Texan, U.S. troops and Hispanics may still be guarding the places where they fell or buried a treasure. Then again, what was a treasure to the person who buried it? To the early Native Americans a treasure could have been a freshly killed bear, buffalo, enemy, pottery or trinkets used as jewelry. To the Spanish explorers a treasure could have been a favorite horse, a mate or family member (wife, child, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, etc), or some pesos duros (Spanish silver coins commonly called pieces of eight. To those who came after 1848 a treasure could have been a sword, gun, rifle, photograph, mate or family member. So what are/were the buried or lost treasures of the Camino Real de los Tejas? And why can’t some spirits seem to find eternal peace? Were they not buried but merely left above ground for the wild animals and weather to do away with their remains? Did they not receive proper religious departure whether Native American, Jewish or Christian? Or, could some of those supposed spirits be guarding their greatest treasure; their souls and final resting place? We know not the answers but merely record the ghost storied and legends shared by many who grew up or live along the three routes of the Camino Real de los Tejas.
In closing, we are happy to have had the German documentary film-makers in town along with former internee Art Jacob. It is always a pleasure and honor to assist in any manner possible. And special thanks to Mayor Benito Perez, Jack Kingsbury and the Dairy Queen gang for helping out. Muchisimas gracias amigos.
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Zavala County Sentinel June 6-7, 2007