Boarding School Experience

Chahta Elder Stories: Christine Ludlow

Published January 31, 2008

Christine will tell something. First of all, tell your name. And then tell where you went to school. And also tell how far you got.

I am Christine Ludlow. I went to Smithville School for two years. And then I went two years, no it was one year at the Chilocco Boarding School, grade school. And when I returned to Smithville, then I went to Nanih Chito, a one room school with only one teacher. And when I reached seven years of age, no twelve years of age then I went to Wheelock. I wanted to go and she let me. And soon after I arrived, I wished I had not come. I kept wanting to go back home. Although I was distraught, I stayed. When I finished that one year, I wanted to go back home and go to school but Mama wouldn’t let me. I kept going back to Wheelock.

And so, some of the things that I saw or heard, that’s what I want to tell you. And when I first arrived there, I used to sleep on something called a sleeping porch. And there were many beds. And so there were a many places for children to sleep. And sometimes, when we got up early in the morning one of the children would tell us “I saw that one walking.” I heard that one walking. They told us things that would scare us. And so, as for me, I didn’t hear any of those things or see them either; I only heard of them. And I had gone home for the summer and returned to stay in a room, for two residents. And the one student that stayed with me was named Edith Baker.

And then in the next room, how do you say that?

Aboha itυnnap.

The next room, maybe. And one of the students staying there was Caroline Baker. And I forget the other one’s name. Even so it was dark; one time because it was dark we were in our room. And so it sounded like something was coming on the ground and then we thought someone called out. And it was loud and it said “Caroline Baker.” And we, too, wondered who it was and so we went to the window and looked. And in Caroline’s room, there was a table near the window.

And so she was sitting there writing or reading or something and when she heard her name she opened the window, and looking down, said “Wha…t?” We went over there and looked, too. And we didn’t see anything or anyone. And so, we thought it was a ghost. And, or some of the rooms circled around. And so we said, “I guess another student saw Caroline and called her,” and we just asked around. These others hadn’t heard or seen anything. And so we thought it must have been a ghost. And so the last time I went there, the first floor… the first floor had been an infirmary (or a clinic). But that had moved somewhere else. And they had fixed up three more of the rooms and so three of us stayed in one of the room. And one was for two and so two stayed there. And I forget how many could stay in the other room, two or three maybe. And so, one night, late at night someone woke us up.

And when we were fully awake, the hallway was all lit up. And everyone in all the rooms was up. And the younger children stayed there on the other side. There were three rooms. And usually the caregivers for the younger children were the eighth graders. And they had gone to sleep. It seemed something or someone had moved the bed to the closet. She woke up; she was frightened and it seems she got up and turned on all the lights. And so we got up and, Ozella told us what had happened.

And she told us what had happened. And when we went back to her room with her, sure enough, it seemed the bed had been moved. And so we helped her move it back to where it had been standing. And there were a lot of clothes hangers in the closet. And so whatever it was went into the closet did something that she said was noisy. And it was really loud enough to be heard like someone was playing with them. And so, finally when we opened the closet door and sure enough the clothes hangers were slowly what do you call it when it’s swinging a little bit?

Winnakυhach (Swinging).

It was swinging. We saw that. We were sort of scared, too. We saw what had happened.

Mmhuh. (acknowledgement)

And I used to hear a lot of things about Wheelock. But anything, I have not seen anything. Or I haven’t heard anything. But at that time I saw what had happened. But we didn’t see the ghost.

Mmhuh, acknowledgment.

And so, even now sometimes I believe it still happens.

Mmhuh, acknowledgment.

Sammie’s gone. Or There’s no Sammie.

I believe, I believe. (laughs)

One time, I don’t know if it’s something like that or not but I’m saying it.

When I was telling something you said then that someone was coming down the hall, turning the door knobs.

I was the one telling that. I was the one telling that.

Oh, yeah. And then could you tell that.

They use to meet every Sunday evening for something. We used to have to go to something called an assembly. And so one time, another girl and I said we weren’t going and we hid. We hid in the closet and finally it got quiet after everyone was gone. And so after we got out we were talking. It was really quiet and after awhile we thought we heard something. The other girl’s was named Vallie. Vallie said, “We’re not the only ones here.” We’re not the only ones here, she said. Yes, I said.

And she was sitting there trying to write. I was standing near by. And after awhile, a long ways off something or someone, what is it? What would you say?

Door handle.

The door handles, it seemed like the doors were opening fast and it seemed like it was coming. And I was sort of standing in front of the door. And so she said, “Do you hear that?” Yes, its, its coming! It sounds like it’s coming here, I said. And we sort of started getting scared. “Oh! I hope it doesn’t get here,” we said. And after awhile, sure enough it arrived at our door. And I looked carefully at the door. And in fact, it opened the door. And then it just continued to open the door wider until it was fairly wide. And I looked at it. I was scared but I looked directly at it. I thought I was going to see something but there was nothing. Then after a long while the door did close. And then, then it started back. And when it was a long ways off, we said “It better not come back.” But then we heard it coming back.

Before it returned to our door, the assembly was over and the students were getting noisy and we felt better. (group laughter) “From now on I’m going.” “I will not be staying,” I kept saying. I don’t know how it happened. Or was it windy, they said?

No, no, there was no way for the wind to get in. And it wasn’t anyone doing that, it was fast. But it didn’t open any of the other doors. It opened it when it arrived at ours.

I guess it said, “Why are you two sitting here?”

I have always thought, we were suppose to hear something and we didn’t go and so it told us I guess.
Let me ask. First you said the bed moved.

Mmhuh. (In acknowledgment.) laughs.

Did she hear it? Did she know where it went to go see it or how was the bed?

Ozella was still lying on the bed.

She was still lying there?

She was still lying there. And so, that one what was it?

Move it. When it was moved, that was when she woke up.

Laughs, mumbles in astonishment ooh….

Mmhuh, yeah, she was frightened and just turned on all the lights.

And so it moved the bed to the closet?

When we went over to look at it, it was still standing there. The closet.

In the closet?

Yes, near there.

Near the door.

Against the door. Against the …
Okay. Against.

Yeah, against.

It was standing against the door?

It was standing against the door. That was what we saw. She told us what had happened to the clothes hangers.

Mmhuh. (In acknowledgment.)

And so, we (Bob: opened.) opened the closet door and it was doing that. Truthfully, you would not want to be by yourself at Wheelock. And so, son in law, how do you say that? My son in law. In Choctaw, my son in law.

Mmhuh. (In acknowledgment.) Chi pok.

Chi pokchi. Child.

My son in law, Karl, used to be the caretaker at Wheelock. And so sometime when we went there we used to have a picnic or something. There were more children now and they were small and liked to play. And so one of them, LeAnn, when she looked up she saw a girl standing there. “There’s a little girl up there,” she said. But, I don’t know if any of the other children saw anything. When she saw her, she said that. As someone told it, told her father “I think she saw a ghost.” “And so you should observe her, she might get sick,” he said. Sometimes, something used to happen he said. One time, I believe he was fixing the car. And something was coming after him and he ran into the room. (laughs) And sometimes, someone would scream. Sometimes when it’s dark, he said he would always hear something.



Do you want to ask her something?

If not, we thank you Christine. Thank you.