It’s Halloween! Once again, it’s time for those itchy, flame retardant costumes, snaggle-toothed jack-o-lanterns, and, most important, it’s time for bite size Snickers bars, which I believe are scientifically proven to have no calories because of their miniscule size. That’s why you don’t even have to feel the least bit guilty if you should inadvertently scarf down twenty or thirty of them in the course of the day. It’s also time for ghost stories! Nothing goes better around a campfire than ghost stories, unless of course, it’s s’mores. Hmm… I wonder how a s’more made with a bite size Snicker bar would be. I’m betting it would be delicious. Wait. What was I talking about? Oh, yeah. Ghost stories!
Gather around the campfire because I’m going to tell you about a legendary Western ghost story. No, it doesn’t involve a hitchhiker with a hook for a hand or girl wandering around a cemetery in her prom dress with a hook for a hand. (Sometimes I get my ghost stories confused.) This story is about the ghost children of San Antonio. It has everything you could ever want in a ghost story except possibly a hook for hand: It has frightened children, desolate roads and train tracks. YIKES!
The year was 1938 when, according to legend, a school bus was headed through a desolate, wooded stretch of road. A nun, who was also a teacher, was driving her young students home from a field trip. It was late and the children, exhausted from their outing, dozed in their seats. The nun admired the sleeping children and noted that they appeared to “dead to the world.” Oh, how prophetic.
The sister approached a railroad track on a steep grade, when the unimaginable happened. One of the bus’s wheels became lodged between pieces of wood in the track. As she gunned the engine in an effort to free the wheel, the bus stalled. It was then that a train came barreling down the track. The nun had no time to evacuate the children. Upon impact, the driver’s seat was thrown clear of the tracks and the nun watched in horror as her twenty-six beloved children perished.
Stop Dead in Your Tracks
The nun was overcome by grief. Why hadn’t she tried to wake the children sooner? Why was she the only one saved from the terrible carnage? What if…? What if…? What if…?
It was too much for the sister to bear. Two weeks later, the nun decided to end her life. She parked her car on the same tracks and waited for an approaching train. Chug-a-chug-a…Chug-a-chug-a… The train became louder. But the tortured nun heard something else. No. It couldn’t be. It was impossible. Her mind was playing tricks on her. She could hear the voices of children. She recognized the voices. They were the same voices that had haunted her those past two weeks. They were the voices of the children she had loved so much. Chug-a-chug-a… The train was louder still. It wouldn’t be long.
At that point, the nun felt her car begin to move . . . and an instant before impact, an unseen force pushed her car from the tracks.
Shaking, the nun got out of her car, and what she saw next defied all logic: On her car, she saw dozens of small handprints. Could it possibly be that the children that had died on those tracks had saved her? From that day forward, legend tells, twenty-six young souls have roamed the area, warning people to stay clear of the track.
The streets in that area of town were named after some of the children who perished on that dreary day in 1938. To this day, the streets bear the names of Cindy Sue, Laura Lee, Richey Otis, Bobbie Allen and Nancy Carole, each of which is a perfectly compelling name for a ghost child, it seems to me.
I’ve Been Working on the Railroad
Since then, the area has drawn the curious and the seekers of paranormal activity. People say that if you stop your car on the tracks and put it in neutral, you can feel your car being pushed up the grade and over the tracks. People regularly report the sounds of children crying in the area.
Some people dust the trunks of their cars with flour or baby powder. Those people report finding children’s handprints—just as the nun did. Gulp.
Hold that Train!
Now, I don’t want to be responsible for anyone’s bad dreams (particularly my own), so I’m going to tell you some things I’ve discovered about the legendary ghost children of San Antonio. For starters, there is no record of a bus accident on that railroad track. There is, however, record of a school bus that was hit by a train in Salt Lake City, Utah, in December of 1938. It was grizzly and the story did appear in San Antonio newspapers. Perhaps some people just skimmed the story and thought it had happened in San Antonio.
What about the cars that roll uphill over the tracks? Are those people exaggerating? Surveyors have gone to the site and discovered that the “steep grade” leading up to the track is actually an optical illusion. Measurements have shown that what appears to be a hill is really two feet lower than the road leading to it. If you put a water bottle on its side, it will seem to roll “uphill.”
Okay, but those streets named for little ghost children, that has to be real, right? Nope. The streets are named for children—specifically, they were named for the grandchildren of the neighborhood developer. I still say those are excellent names for ghost children, however.
And the cries of children that are heard in the vicinity of the tracks? Are those simply the results of overactive imaginations? Surprisingly, the answer is, “No.” You see, there is a nearby resident who happens to raise peacocks. Have you ever heard the cry of peacock? It’s creepy and it does sound very much like a child crying out.
What about the handprints? Is that legit? I have no answer for that one. Perhaps what people see as children’s handprints are really patterns from the wind. I don’t know. I do know that I much prefer the idea of ghost children’s handprints to a hitchhiker with a hook for a hand.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go eat a bunch of bite size Snickers bars and decompress from this frightful tale! True or not—it’s skeery!