Nights in White Satin
October 28, 2013
Desmond had had a couple of beers, but he was in no way inebriated. He knew if he tried to sleep he would just toss and turn, so he decided to take a cool, relaxing drive around the lake—White Rock Lake—on the way back from his poker game. He had been antsy, of late. There was an important business deal coming up for him on Monday. Could he convince prospective clients?
He turned down Lawther Drive. He used to love to make these drives, just a few years back when he was a teenager, with a pretty girl in the seat next to him. He rolled down the window of his sedan to let the cool lake air breeze in. He luxuriated in the dark-night aromas and sounds coming off the lake. He would make it a slow ride. He looked down at the odometer. He wondered how much road he had covered today, running last-minute errands for his boss.
He looked back up at the road just in time to see what looked like a woman struggling at water’s edge. As he stared, shocked, she gained her footing and with surreal, slow gliding movements she made her way to the center of the road. She was standing in his headlights, dripping water on the dusty pavement. He stopped the car and sat dumbfounded behind the wheel as she glided toward him and spoke through the open car window in a contralto voice. “Accident.” She was distraught and reserved. “Could you please take me to my parents’ home?”
Desmond hemmed and hawed, even stuttered. His offers of other assistance were refused. Were there other victims needing assistance? She only wanted a ride to her parents’ home. “They may be worried.” Desmond, ever the perfect gentleman of the 1930s, obliged. He got out and opened the door to the back seat and she got in. He observed the ravishingly beautiful woman more closely in the moonlight night. Her long, flowing, now water-logged gown was of highest quality, with some shiny beading on it. The matching shawl, which she wore draped over her head and extended to the knees was water saturated chiffon. Neiman Marcus, he said to himself. That was the only place with duds as fine as this. He was interrupted again by her pitiful pleas. “Please. It’s on Gaston Avenue. We must go now.” Desmond was not afraid of a woman, but the whole incident was giving him the heebie jeebies. He would be glad when this good deed was over.
He headed for the East Dallas address she had given him on Gaston Avenue. The ride had been silent. After pulling to the curb of the imposing and elegant home, Desmond got out of the car to open the door for his distraught rider. No one was there. Nothing. There was only a puddle of lake water pooling in the back seat and on the floorboard.
Desmond started to drive away, but decided to check at the home. A late middle aged man answered the door when he knocked. Desmond explained the event to the man. “It was no one,” the man answered, “only a ghost. It is the ghost of our daughter, killed in a boating accident on White Rock Lake several years back. Many have given her a ride to our doorstep. When they look for her, she is not there. There is only a puddle of water.” The man had been joined by his sad-looking wife and they closed the door.
Desmond would never be the same again.
If you have ever made that drive yourself at night, as Lawther Drive curves around the lake, you will notice that car lights and shadows do strange things. Sometimes it spooks you bad enough that you want to examine the same stretch of road by light of day, which I did, many times. When I was in my early twenties, my boyfriend and I would load up our bicycles in the trunks of our cars, drive to White Rock Lake, unload the bicycles and spend an hour or two riding along the lake—a favorite weekend activity. As I coasted along, the breeze blowing through my long hippie hair, I would gaze off at the lake and try to imagine the ghost and her favorite territorial haunts. I also tried to envision the activities of another legend, La Llarona, the crier, a banshee that flies over White Rock Lake at night screaming and wailing over a spot where her children drowned.
As Halloween approaches each year, I cannot overcome the compulsion to read about ghosts. I go to my file on strange and eerie things and one item I pull from it is the Sunday Magazine supplement for the Dallas Times Herald, May 5, 1968. It contains a cooking column by David Wade—Lamb Croquettes. It has fashion ads for Sanger Harris and Volk, Dallas. There are photos of the winner of a recent photo contest, an adorable tot eating peaches at the Dallas Farmers’ Market. There are Montgomery Ward ads for shiny percolators and appliances in Avocado, the new designer color. There is an article on Bravo cigarettes, made of lettuce, right there in Dallas, since the company moved there. They had a cigarette sampling at Big Town Mall. There are articles about sailing on White Rock Lake, Round Dancing and Polka clubs in the metroplex.
Then, there is the article by Bill Morgan, White Rock’s Elusive Lady. It explains what happened when a young man picked up the ghost long ago in the 1930s. It also tells a million other tales, if you read between the lines—people who have seen her, talked to her, given her rides.
I have read more recent accounts, and…..people see her still.
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