Once when I was visiting a Louisiana plantation, someone in our group asked the owner/tour guide if the place had any ghosts. “No ghosts,” the owner answered. “We have history, and where there’s history you don’t need ghosts.”
His answer said a lot. Where there are real stories to tell, there is less need to create stories. Nevertheless, Louisiana has many of such tales, some that are undoutedly told with conviction and sincerity. (We contribute to that ourselves, as our “Around” section in the back of this magazine has traditionally focused on paranormal legends for our September/October issue with Halloween as the justification.)
While there may or may not be spooky things thumping in the night, there are undoubtedly and certifiably many stories, all part of a rich body of legends and folklore.
Old buildings tend to be the site of must haunts and that may explain Louisiana’s paranormal wealth. Between the plantations and the vintage structures of the French Quarter in New Orleans, there are many places suitable for legends. In New Orleans the storytelling has become a big business as on any night, even when the moon is not full, groups of ghost tours haunt the streets. The city’s Voodoo culture enhances the mystique.
Skepticism aside, there is one faded image that reappears throughout Louisiana every Halloween and some people, especially if they are from Mississippi, are haunted by it. LSU fans still get goosebumps when the local television sports segments routinely rerun Billy Cannon’s classic winning 89-yard punt return touchdown against Ole Miss. It happened in 1959 on Halloween Night.
Here the forces of reality come together: Not only is the apparition real, but there is also true history, too.