By Sarah Schrock
Thanks to my readership, I have been set straight on Mach speed vs. mock speed. Bob Hunt and Alan Caswell, both of Twisp, pointed out my error in last week’s column. The embarrassing thing is, this was not a spell check mishap — I had no idea Mach speed was the correct term. I was totally ignorant of this spelling, or rather the term. I had always thought it was called mock speed, and it was a colloquialism (how’s that for a big word) as opposed to a technical unit of measurement referring to the speed of an object moving at the speed of sound in air. For instance, Mach 1, when an aircraft breaks the sound barrier. That is why I had a physics tutor in college (but hey, at least I took it and passed).
It seems that my kids are going to know more about sound and speed than me, thanks some amazing physical science education happening at Methow Valley Elementary. Kudos to the first-grade teachers. As part of their unit of inquiry exploring sound, my first-grader came home last week and described in detail the anatomy and function of the ear. He precisely depicted all three regions of the ear, how each portion captures and transmits sound, all the way down to the architecture of the inner-ear-spiral lined with hairs that vibrate and transmit sound via the auditory nerve to the brain. Then he drew an annotated diagram of the inner ear. This was after he showed me an experiment on how to “see” vibrations that represent sound using sand on an upside-down pan and banging on it.
Sound, as it turns out, moves faster in warm air. This fact doesn’t support the common account of a chilling presence, or cold wind, often reported when a ghostly apparition appears. In the spirit of the season, I had a nagging desire to hunt down some local ghost stories. My mission was only mildly successful. Here’s what a few kids who grew up here remember about local ghastly lore.
When Allen Elementary used to be located on hill above the Community Center in Twisp, the children played in the surrounding fields during recess and gazed up at the hills to the south, worrisome of what lurked above. Perched atop a small knob above the irrigation canal sat a spooky old cabin. I believe it was the Heath’s. Today, the Alexanders have built a home where the old cabin once stood. But before the cabin was torn down, Maja Nickell recalls kids frequently telling stories of ghosts and witches that would peer out of the window and watch the children play on the playground.
This phenomenon must be an elementary school rite of passage. I too used to make up ghost stories about a house across the field from my school. We could swear there was an old woman staring at us and that the Romanesque statues that lined her deck would mysteriously disappear and translocate.
Mysterious and strange things have also been rumored to occur in an old farmhouse on the Twisp-Winthrop Eastside Road. I couldn’t get any first-hand accounts, but the old farmhouse fits the image of a haunted house. Victorian details, gabled rooflines, wooden floors and a front porch. Reports came from two sources regarding this home’s past haunts — so there must be something to it, right?
One account of the haunting recalls things being misplaced and moving around and the image of an old sea captain, or sometimes in the form of woman figure, would appear. The apparition apparently got upset one time when the owner started a remodel and when some the trim was removed, the house apparently started making all kinds of strange sounds until the boards where put back in place. I couldn’t contact the current owner to see if the spirit still lurks, so you’ll just have to guess whose house it is.
Send me your ghost stories, your spooks, or phantom sightings. Don’t forget to turn your clocks back on Sunday (Nov. 4) and let the light come back!