PoP's Southern Thangs: Gertie’s Ghost


Gertie’s Ghost

Via Ann, Belle Grove
In 2000, Bokara Legendre, an artist and a stage performer, inherited her family’s plantation in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. She promptly set about making the place her own, redecorating the antebellum mansion with abstract paintings and a pastel color scheme. But this seemed to unsettle the house. The first night Legendre spent in her redone bedroom, there was a problem with the fireplace, and the chamber filled with thick black smoke. As a member of the plantation staff put out the fire, he glimpsed an apparition: the late mistress of the house, Legendre’s mother, Gertie. She was not pleased with the changes.

Legendre tells this ghost story to illustrate a mortal lesson: It is one thing to live in a house, quite another to possess it. Most people can only fantasize about coming into something like Medway, a pink gabled plantation house surrounded by 6,700 acres of moss-hung oaks, pine forests and swamps. But every homeowner wrestles, in ways great and small, with the recalcitrant spirit of the property he occupies. Legendre, a student of Tibetan Buddhism, says she saw a sort of cosmic opportunity in her mother’s bequest, a chance to "change the karma" of an estate once cultivated by slaves and used by her parents as a hunting playground. She discovered that the gift came with hidden conditions, however; some legacies aren’t so easy to exorcise.


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