Summertime in the Belgrades
July 18 24
The Guide Ghosts of Great Pond, Part 3
by Rod Johnson
In the two previous issues of Summertime in the Belgrades, we recounted stories of two different run-ins with ghosts on Great Pond. Rod was lost in the fog and was nearly side-swiped by a guide boat back in 1966. In that same year, Phil Cobb nearly caught guide ghosts partying on Oak Island, again on an extremely foggy night. Phil also found ten sets of mysterious initials freshly carved into the old plank bench at the Oak Island campsite, and crudely recorded the initials onto an old Day's Marina gas receipt. In hashing over the known details of the two occasions, and with some speculation added, Rod, Doris, Mark and Pam agree that it was most likely the same night on two different parts of the Pond.
When people hear about ghostly sightings, there is most usually doubt and some proof is required to make believers. Here's what we uncovered. You can be the judges.
The mystery of the initials carved into the wooden plank was never solved. With the busy camp life at Camp Runoia, Phil had tucked the smudged receipt into a shoe box of personal items, with intentions of getting back to it after camp ended. At a family cookout later in the fall, he again recounted the whole story of the foggy night to wife Betty and for the first time to his children. Over time the children pretty much forgot the story and chalked it up as another "Dad" story.
It wasn't until late last fall when Pam was doing a major hoe-out of the Runoia farmhouse attic and decided to finally clean out her dad's old roll-top desk. With flashlight in hand, she slowly made her way to the low headroom attic area just under the eaves, near the south dormer.
After picking through the top drawer, she recalled that her Dad Phil had always thrown odd receipts into a shoe box kept in the lower left drawer. She gingerly opened the drawer and pulled out the tattered box, then took a seat on the old steamer trunk nearby. The shoebox contained a mish mash of old papers such as personal notes, receipts for camp purchases and lists of chores long since done. Also found were some lists of camp attendees, now over 50 years of age.
Thumbing through the dog-eared papers, she noticed a smudged receipt from Day's Marina, showing purchases for gas and oil dated August 10, 1966. Pam recollected the story her dad had told the family about the initials and his writing them down with a charcoal stick.
At this time, she moved to the old Boston rocker long stored in the attic and pondered the significance of the initials her dad had copied off the wooden plank seat on Oak Island. Having recently read an article in Summertime in the Belgrades called "The Guides," it came to her that a list of guides names was in the story. A tingle went up her spine as it occurred to her to see if the names matched the initials.
Suddenly the silence was broken with a strong voice calling "Pam, Pam, are you okay?" It was her husband Mark calling from the head of the stairs, and she knew it was time to share her thoughts and excitement.
After going downstairs and while fixing dinner, they dug out a copy of the Summertime edition that had the "Guides" story. Upon examining the guides names in the article and comparing the initials that Phil had copied nearly fifty years before, they both became spellbound. A 100% match was confirmed.
Rod's best evidence of ghostly visitations is that one of the guides noted in the article was Charles Grant, and one of the ten sets of initials uncovered by Pam in the attic was in fact CG. Also, just to nail it down a little tighter, the Guide Ghost's boat that nearly rammed Rod's Chris Craft in the fog in 1966, had the name Ida on the bow. A conversation with Franny Grant, Charlie's granddaughter confirmed her grandmother's first name was Ida.
What conclusions can we draw? Do the guide ghosts of Great Pond in fact come out to visit on foggy occasions, and how can you be sure? My advice is to go out on Great Pond on a very soupy night. You might become a believer Phil and I did!
Author's note: For any folks who missed last year's twelve stories, we published a small book called The Luckiest Boy, containing all twelve and available at Day's Store.
Rod Johnson was born and raised in the Belgrade Lakes in the 1950s and '60s.