Editor’s note: Reader Gloria Martin submitted this “ghost story” to the E-T as part of our annual Halloween callout. We hope you enjoy it! Happy Halloween!
My job in Gustine puts me on Hwy. 1702 and past the Hazeldell Cemetery five days a week.
Hazeldell was a community that died in the early to mid-twentieth century. I am told that in its heyday it was a town as tough as Tombstone, with murders, lynchings and all the debauchery that goes along with the "wild west" of the late 1800s.
About a year ago, I noticed activity at the Hazeldell Cemetery on my drive home from work on a Friday afternoon. It's an old cemetery, but still has occasional funerals. I've seen probably about a half dozen graveside services there in the 20 years I've been making the drive, so I wondered as I drove by which local person had died.
I made a mental note that the person being buried had a fairly small turnout of around 15 people, which is somewhat unusual. I also noticed that the people were all gathered around an older section of the cemetery, near an old grave surrounded by a wrought iron fence, and that the people were all dressed in black, brown and khaki clothing.
None of this was particularly creepy to me until a few days later, when I returned to work on the following Monday. Once at work at the Gustine Bank, I asked around to see whose service that was, and was told that no locals had been buried at the Hazeldell cemetery in recent memory.
The response made me do some thinking. Something about the service didn't seem right, and then I finally realized what had been missing - cars! There were no cars or vehicles of any type in front of the cemetery. How did the people get there?
Then I thought about the section of the cemetery they were in. All the recent burials I have seen over the years were in the newer section of the cemetery, near the front and on the right (when facing the place) side, with the oldest graves being toward the left and back.
In retrospect, the people at the service, did look a bit strange. Although funeral attire is still often black and dark colors, people in modern times do not adhere to strict black and brown as they did in the past. People at contemporary funerals can wear patterns, floral prints, navy blue, and pretty much any color that doesn't look like a party.
These people were as drab as dust, and as I drove, I slowed down to see who I recognized in the small crowd. I know virtually every person in the Gustine area, and for me to recognize anyone at a Hazeldell funeral is unlikely.
I saw no one who looked even remotely familiar.
There you have it, draw whatever conclusion you want.
Ghost story, wrinkle in time, or the ravings of a lunatic. I know what I saw, and I am telling this to the best of my recollection as the truth.