Although the weather has not been very "fall like" so far, and leaves are not tumbling with great rapidity from the trees, there is one sure sign that Halloween is coming fast.
That would be the annual Haunted Fort Leavenworth Tour sponsored by the Friends of the Frontier Army Museum.
The legend of the fort's famed haunted houses is widely known around the world. I began hearing haunting tales shortly after my arrival as a CGSC tactics instructor in the summer of 1978. I was fascinated by the fact that grown, well educated, mostly combat veteran men were so readily telling tales of the fort's ghosts.
That first Halloween came and went, and not much beyond talk happened. As the next Halloween approached, however, things began to change for me. The curator of the post museum invited me to sit in on an interview by a Leavenworth Times reporter with a wife whose family had lived in one of the eight haunted houses for three years.
Sure, why not, I thought. The reporter will tear her up, and perhaps help put an end to such silly ideas. It was not to be.
The interview lasted about an hour, and by the end of it, the wife's eyes were quite bloodshot as she had recalled things that had happened to her family during its stay in a haunted house. The resulting article was on page one, and very accurate.
The wife was in her late 40s, had a master's degree, and had lived around the world. She was no kook, in other words. And during that interview, she made a believer out of me. It wasn't that she made me a believer in ghosts, but she convinced me that many, yea most, families who had lived in the post's haunted houses sincerely believed they had had experiences that were hard to explain.
Most of the officers had been colonels or lieutenant colonels, from the Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force. All had at least one master's degree. None was a kook.
As I dug into the tales of the haunted houses, and as time went by, I met several children who were now in the Army and had lived in the houses growing up. They, too, had had experiences.
One month as the 15 or so attendees left the Fort Leavenworth Historical Society's monthly program, the president's wife said "John, you've been digging into the fort's ghosts. Why don't you present the program next month?"
That was October, and I told her I didn't think anyone would be interested. Well, Marshall Auditorium in the old Bell Hall held 356 people, and all seats were filled and some folks sat in the aisles.
The next year we moved the program to Eisenhower Auditorium, with almost 1,000 seats, and only about 100 were empty. That went on for 21 years, the only society program ever given two nights, until a new board was elected and the president said that ghosts were not historical and ended the program.
Page 2 of 2 - But not to worry. A newly named organization, Friends of the Frontier Army Museum, began a "walk about" past some of the houses, and charged money for folks to go. It is now in about its 10th year, I believe, and each year has been a sellout. All profit is donated to the museum, making the walk about the largest fund raiser for the museum in the museum's history.
This year it will be two weekends, Oct. 18 and 19, and 25 and 26. Ticket prices vary, so it is best to check the group's website www.ffam.us for details, or call the museum gift shop at 651-7440.
I wouldn't dally, as the event has sold out every year so far.
Aaaaaooooouuuuuuu!!!! They are out there…somewhere.
John Reichley is a retired Army officer and retired Department of the Army civilian employee.