Cape Cod's fluctuating seasonal population is always up for discussion. Although, it seems those numbers do not include a fair amount of ghosts that also inhabit our historic sandbar. "Cape Encounters" by Dan Gordon and Gary Joseph is a collection of stories about that ghostly group.
Gordon and Joseph share an interest in the other-worldy tales told by numerous Cape residents. "Encounters" is unique in that the stories are told by the witnesses--the actual people who have learned to share a space with someone (or something) from beyond. Gordon and Joseph merely offer a lead into each story. Yet their descriptions of the locals often reveal the storyteller to be just as colorful as their tale. It is Cape Cod, after all.
The word "ghost" conjures up images of spooky sights, creaking floor boards and distant moans. But the stories told in "Encounters" put a whole new spin on the way some folks perceive ghosts. Some witnesses tell of being scared out of their wits, while others felt comforted and protected by their ghostly housemates.
The reader comes away from "Encounters" with the sense that spirits are everywhere--old houses, new houses, cemeteries, restaurants, inns and offices. In fact, "Encounters" reads like a supernatural chamber of commerce guide book. Don't be surprised if you find out you have eaten in a haunted Wellfleet tavern or strolled past a haunted sea captain's house in Yarmouth Port or Barnstable. And Brewster residents, there is a surprise for you in there too!
"Before I retire at night, I say, 'Good night, ghost.' I don't see him then, but I have a feeling he's here. This is where he felt most at home."
- Margaret Keith (excerpt from the book)
The Cape's rich history is a wonderful backdrop for the spectres that spring forth from the pages of "Cape Encounters." The spirits of sea captains, homemakers, slaves, children and even animals make their presence known in many different ways. As in life, those from beyond have different personalities and traits. Some are happy, others, sad. Some are protective, others, searching, mischievious or taunting.
Gordon and Joseph do not lead their interviewees, nor do they interpret their words. The storytellers come from all walks of life. Some are native Cape Codders, others are wash-ashores. Some are workers, artists and homemakers while others are educators, business people and retirees. All have unique encounters to share. Many of the interviewees know the identity of the person through research or by sharing the stories with others. To some, the identity of the spirit remains a mystery.
"Cape Encounters" is an easy, delightful read--chilling at times, heartfelt at others. It is a collection of stories about people who have learned to co-exist with those who came before them. "Encounters" evokes a sense of wonder and brings about questions of life, death and spirituality. Do we or parts of us carry on after we are gone? Perhaps no one will ever know.
So stoke the fire, make yourself a cup of tea and settle in for an entertaining read.
"Cape Encounters" by Dan Gordon and Gary Joseph was published by Cockle Cove Press. ISBN 0-9748983-6-8 and is available online and at local book stores. Be sure to check the Cape Cod Today calendar of events for book signings and lectures. By these authors and others.