“Do you believe in ghosts?”

It was a question posed to me by one of my children while we were on our way to a “History and Hauntings” walk through our hometown.

I already knew most of the stories that were going to be told. I had heard them before. And, I had researched them myself rather thoroughly.

I told them that there were some things that they’d hear that were true events though, often, the guide would have the names wrong either to protect the families of the people whose story he was telling or, more likely, out of just not knowing.

I told them that some of the things we’d do, like using a laser thermometer to test the temperature of various surfaces as “evidence” of a ghost trying to gather energy to manifest, were silly and that there were rational explanations for why different objects would have different temperatures that I could share with them after the tour.

“Do you believe in ghosts?”

I grew up around history. Both of my parents worked for the Kansas State Historical Society which meant that, every time a new museum or historic site was opened, we were there.

I got to go “behind the scenes,” to see and experience places, artifacts and stories from a state that played a major part in America’s struggle against slavery, and against segregation. From the wild west in places like Abilene and Dodge City to America’s expansion westward along the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails.

Not only that, but my grandmother lived through the Great Depression and the dust bowl era in America’s heartland. My grandfather grew up as a child during the prohibition and mafia era on Chicago’s west side before joining the military to fight in the Pacific theater during World War II.

History and stories are in my blood.

“Do you believe in ghosts?”

It’s a tough question to answer.

I believe that there is far more to the world than what we are capable of seeing, much less fully understanding. But, too many — and, often, to kids in particular — that unknown, that unexplainable, can be terrifying.

I believe in all sorts of spiritual beings. And, while I do believe that there are some that mean us harm, I don’t think that ghosts — if they exist — are amongst them.

“Do you believe in ghosts?”

I’ve always found ghost stories fascinating.

They provide an interesting insight into the history of a place.

They are capable of taking you, if you’ll let them, into a different time.

They can give can you give insight into the life of someone who was, at one time, a very real person. Someone with hopes and dreams and loves and desires and friends and family. Someone who, in many cases, met an unexpected end. Who left things unfinished.

And who may, as a result, occasionally come back.

“Do you believe in ghosts?”

I guess maybe I do.

But, more importantly, I believe in the people and the history that have become American ghostlore and legend. I think they are worth exploring. Worth remembering.

And that’s what we do here.

Not just by sharing the legend or the ghost story, but by finding out who the person who may have become the ghost story really was.

I hope you’ll join us.