(Unless otherwise noted, the Kathryn Tucker Windham blogs are written by her children, Ben Windham and Dilcy Windham Hilley.)
Like all good Southerners, I have this story to tell you, and all you have to do is listen. You don’t need to judge me, and you don’t need to figure out an explanation for it.
Last Sunday, I left my house to drive to the grocery store. I got in the car and pressed the radio button to listen to NPR. But instead of “This American Life,” which I expected to catch, I heard the sound effects of bats. Yes, bat wings beating. So I assumed I was listening to “Science Friday” instead, only it wasn’t Friday, and the bat wing sounds stopped and my mother’s voice came on the radio.
Mother was talking about fall nights and Southern ghost stories, and I was a little rattled. I looked at the audio monitor, and it was blank. No station was registering. I decided my son Ben must have put a CD of his grandmother telling stories in the car player, so I hit eject. It was not my mother’s CD. It was Leonard Cohen. The earth stopped revolving, and I couldn’t breathe.
Deeply puzzled by this time, I hit the audio control, and up came an ad on WJOX (which, I should add, I hurriedly switched to NPR). Some syndicated show was on my local station, and the earth began to revolve again.
As I shopped for groceries, I was haunted---some would say literally---by what had happened.
When I got home, I told my son about the experience. He tried to explain it away in technical terms, but nothing fit. Then he dared to ask me if I had been getting enough sleep! His car was in the shop, so he asked to use mine to run some errands.
Within 20 seconds, he called me. “Mom!” He said. “Are you playing a trick on me?” Yes, the bat wings, his grandmother’s voice, the blank audio monitor….
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"Some people are important to intellectuals, journalists, or politicians, but Kathryn Tucker Windham is probably the only person I know in Alabama who is important to everybody."
–Wayne Flynt, Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at Auburn University.
Ben Windham & Dilcy Windham Hilley
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