Real ghost stories
• The late Carlos Moore makes a benevolent visit to his son, Trent.
• The victim of a fatal car wreck watches out for his friend, Matt Ward.
Port Aransas does indeed have its ghost stories. But the tales that follow aren’t told in jest, as so many are at Halloween.
The residents and former residents who tell them are serious when they say they’ve seen things from beyond, entities from the other side.
The ultimate check-out
George Harris, 75, lives in Hallettsville now, but from 1971 to 1991, he and his wife, Mary, were the owners and managers of the Sportsman’s Lodge, a cluster of motel cottages located at Alister Street and Avenue A. George said he’ll never forget a certain guest who came in on a Friday about 30 years ago.
“I remember he was a young man, about 25 years old,” George said. “He came into the office dressed in a western shirt and Levis and all, and he wanted a room for the weekend.”
George had the man fill out a short register and directed him to cottage No. 2. The man asked where a grocery might be. George directed him to the Family Center IGA.
The man left. Neither George nor Mary saw the man again.
“We opened the door and walked in, and there was a little kitchen table to the right of the door, and there were two sacks of groceries that never had been unsacked,” George recalled.
“And, right two steps inside – this is the wild part – there were his boots, pants, underwear and shirt, like he had just evaporated out of them. The clothes looked like they’d just fallen straight down on top of his boots, and he was nowhere to be seen.”
The man left behind no wallet or identification.
“When I went to look at the check-in (card), it was just scribbling,” George said. “It was just gibberish.”
No friends or relatives ever called to ask about the man. George checked with Port Aransas police, and they said no one had been reported missing.
“It was like he just vaporized,” George said, adding that he has no doubt that he had dealt with a spirit of some kind. “I don’t know if he was a ghost or what they call a shape changer or some such thing, but he was there and then he was gone. Whether there was another dimension he went into, I don’t know.”
George and Mary gave away the guest’s clothes, but their son, Steve, kept the boots. He still has them, but he doesn’t wear them. Just keeps them in a closet in the house where he lives now near Darrington, Wash.
“They’re a great conversation piece,” Steve said.
Trent Moore was in a bad spot when he fell from his boat one day 21 years ago. It was bad enough that he plunged unexpectedly into extremely cold water. But, for Moore, the incident was even more life-threatening than it might have been for most. He was disabled. He couldn’t swim.
Trent, 51, is a lifelong Port Aransan. His father was Carlos Moore, who owned the Bilmore & Son store on Alister Street at Avenue A. Carlos died in December 1989.
One day, about three months after his father died, 30-year-old Trent went fishing aboard a 16-foot shallow-water vessel in the east flats off Mustang Island with longtime friend John Page.
At one point, Trent was at the helm, motoring along at about 20 knots. Not ready for the force of a turn, he was thrown from the boat into 50- degree water that was about six feet deep.
“I was tumbling in the water, and while I was under water, I could see my father,” Trent recalled in an interview recently. “He was telling me, ‘Don’t worry, son, it’ll be OK.’ He was right there with me. … His presence was all around me. I felt totally safe and secure.”
Trent has been partially paralyzed from the neck down due to a spinal injury he suffered at the age of 17. He hasn’t been able to swim since. But his father’s words kept him calm when he fell into that frigid water.
“I swear to you, it didn’t bother me one bit,” Trent said. “I came to the top. I can’t swim, but I can float,” Trent said.
John got the boat turned around and headed back to Trent.
“ Right when I grabbed the boat, my father disappeared,” Trent said. “It was just strange.”
Trent said he’s positive that what he experienced wasn’t a panic-induced hallucination.
“He was in the water with me,” Trent said. “I hadn’t been thinking about him that day, or anything. … It was just the weirdest thing.”
Natural forces were what made him float to the surface.
“But him staying with me allowed me to be calm,” Trent said.
A friendly ghost
George Coleman was an Aransas Pass teen-ager who died in a car accident in 1974. Matt Ward was one of Coleman’s classmates at Aransas Pass High School. They were good friends. Even George’s death wasn’t enough to end the friendship. George kept paying visits to Matt for years after the accident, Matt said.
At the time George died, Matt was about 18 years old, a lifelong Port Aransas resident attending Aransas Pass High School. There was no Port Aransas High School in those days. George lived in Aransas Pass.
The boys hung out a lot together, often cruising around in Matt’s Packard, a classic 1952 vehicle.
“He was one of the only people I ever let drive my Packard, which was kind of special,” Matt recalled.
George was killed when he was a junior in high school. He was driving his old Chevrolet pickup truck in a rainstorm when he ran off an Aransas Pass roadway and crashed.
About six weeks after George’s death, Matt got out of bed one night to go to the bathroom. While walking back to his bed, he felt a hand touch his shoulder.
“That scared the bejeezus out of me. I jumped a couple of feet, I guess, and turned around, and there wasn’t anyone there,” Matt said.
“I backed into my room and into my bed and pulled the covers up to my nose,” Matt said. “I was looking at the door, just terrified, and a silhouette of someone was there. I didn’t know who it was at the time. I was just freaking out,” Matt said. “I heard a voice say, ‘Matt,’ and ‘Help me,’ like, a couple of times. I was thinking, oh my God what is this? What am I going to do?”
He kept watching the silhouette.
“And it just dissipated,” Matt said. “And that was it. I didn’t know what to make of it.”
Later, Matt decided it must have been George. And George kept making appearances – dozens of them over the next several years, Matt said.
“George was big on playing tricks – silly things like turning the lights on and off in my bedroom,” Matt said. Other times, when Matt was sitting or lying in bed, he’d hear what sounded like someone giving the mattress a single hard slap.
But Matt said he wasn’t scared once he figured out that the ghostly appearances were courtesy of his old friend.
“George was a nice kid, a good kid,” Matt said. “He wouldn’t ever hurt anybody.”
One day, Matt was doing some mechanical work on his Packard, when he suddenly got the feeling he should get out from under the vehicle, fast. He scooted most of the way out, and just then, the jack holding up the car dug into the pavement and leaned to one side. The two-ton vehicle fell. It clipped his knee, but he received only a minor injury.
“I realized, oh my God, I would have been crushed,” Matt said. “I attributed it to George assisting me, somehow.”
The horn on Matt’s Packard had a habit of sometimes honking even when Matt hadn’t pressed it. It always seemed to go off at key moments, like the time late one night when Matt was about to doze off behind the wheel. The horn woke him up. Matt feels certain it was George.
Once, as a test, Matt said, he asked George some questions, the answers to which only he and George would know. Matt, who was seated in his Packard at the time, asked George to honk the horn twice to say yes and once for no.
“He got every one of them right,” Matt said. “I just threw my hands up and said, ‘Well, I’ll be damned.’ ”
Matt liked having George around, but eventually, a coworker suggested that he ask George to leave. The co-worker, a woman who said she said she knew quite a bit about the spirit world, said Matt might be holding George back.
“Holding him back, keeping him grounded here, instead of moving on to heaven, I guess,” Matt said.
Matt decided to sit down, alone in a room, and try to communicate with George.
“I said, ‘I want to talk to you. I want to know if you’re really here,” Matt recalled. “And, I don’t know how to explain it, but there was a change in the room, maybe in the ionic charge in the air. There wasn’t anything visual. It was just kind of a feeling, like the energy was being sapped from me to bring about this, I don’t know, this communication. And it was happening kind of rapidly, and I … felt like I was being drawn into something I probably shouldn’t. So, I just stood up and said, ‘No, I’m sorry, I can’t do this. And that feeling suddenly went away.”
And that was it. Matt hasn’t heard from George in more than 25 years now.
He misses his old friend a little. But he expects to see him again in Heaven some day.
“I’ll say, ‘I’m glad you made it,’ ” Matt said.
Questions? Comments? Contact Dan Parker at (361) 749- 5131 or firstname.lastname@example.org.