The Swamp Road Chronicles®


"Apples of Gold"

(The Mystery of the Promise)

Dear Sir,

I want to tell you something regarding Swamp Road Sally that I believe you will find interesting. Sadly, my mother passed away last year. I helped to clean out her house and sell it. I kept several of her personal items that had special meaning for me, in that they reminded me of my mother. There was the afghan she knitted, the jewelry box that my father had given to her one Christmas, a few pieces of jewelry, and several books that I knew she especially enjoyed.


One of the books I kept was a very old book of verses and scripture called: "Golden Apples"; I have attached a photo of the book and the box it is stored in. I had seen my mother holding that book often. She once told me that reading it "soothed" her soul. I had glanced at it a time or two, but never really tried to read it. Well, recently I saw it on my bookcase shelf where I had placed it and I felt compelled to read it. I had been missing my mother more than usual and I guess I just wanted to make a connection with her; perhaps reading one of her favorite books would enable that, I imagined.


"Golden Apples" is a small book and it takes little time to read it, but it stimulates a great deal of contemplation and self-examination. I read it slowly with long pauses while I considered certain verses and passages and reflected on how they illumined and appraised the decisions I had made in life. It was a melancholy exercise. When I reached the last page I found a very old, yellowed piece of stationery folded between the last page and the back cover. It was a note written in my mother's hand to herself. At the top of the note was inscribed: "I sincerely promise…"; at the bottom of the note it was signed, "Novella Sumner, April 9, 1939. Easter Sunday."


In this note my mother promised that she would pray every day for the soul of Sally Blackstone, better known these days as "Swamp Road Sally." Mother further wrote: "She probably saved my life; perhaps I can help release her poor, lonely spirit."

I had never heard about any interaction my mother may have had with Sally's ghost. Mother never spoke of Sally, and I really was amazed that there was such an obviously important and dramatic episode in my mother's past that I was oblivious to. I'm an only child and my father had passed several years earlier, so I thought I had no way of discovering the facts surrounding her "sincere promise."


My mother has a sister that she had been estranged from for many, many years. Her name is Dinah and she attended Mother's funeral where we became reacquainted. It occurred to me that Dinah might be able to shed some light on the mystery of the "promise", so I wrote to her; her reply shocked me.


It seems that when my mother was 16, she had a job at a local restaurant. She worked weekends and drove home after her shift was over, which was often after midnight. One night there had been a group of four rough-looking and rough-acting men at the restaurant, who were very offensive in their behavior toward my mother and the other customers. One of the men was an older student that had gone to Mother's high school. Mom recognized the student, but didn't know his name. The café owner finally ordered them to leave. They left, but only after a very angry and obscene verbal exchange.


My Aunt Dinah wrote that when mother left her work, she realized that a car had begun to follow her. She was certain it was those ruffians from the café. She was right. She soon had a car riding her rear bumper and they were laying on the horn.

They pulled up beside her and tried to force her off of the road. Of course, she was terrified. They were out in the country, no houses, no cars, no help.


In desperation, she took a sharp turn to the left onto a small road at the last second, hoping to gain some time on them; she had turned onto Swamp Road, but she didn't know it.  The men were slow to react and over-shot Swamp Road which gave Mother a chance to gain some distance ahead of them. As she sped down that old road she began to despair as she saw in her rear-view mirror that they were quickly catching up with her. Now, she was in an even more isolated and remote area.


Constantly looking into her mirrors she saw that the car behind her had stopped. She could see they were turning around and heading back the way they had come. Mother couldn't believe her good fortune, whatever had been the reason they gave up she was grateful. God knows what may have happened if they had caught her.


A few days after the incident with the ruffians, my mother was approached during school by the student she had recognized in the car. He was apparently very apologetic. He said he tried to get the other men to leave her alone, but they were drunk and wouldn't listen to him. He said he knew she had been afraid, and he was sorry.


Mother asked why they quit chasing her and the student said, "We were driving fast to catch up with you, but this girl, or young woman stepped into the road and put her hand up like a cop, telling us to stop. My cousin Bill was driving and he was barely able to stop before he hit her. We skidded for 20 feet, I'll bet. Bill was cussin' and yelling. But then, we all got a good look at her face. I'll never forget her expression. We knew that we had to get out of there as fast as we could. The way she stared at me made my blood run cold, she scared me half to death," he said. "When we got back up to the main highway, we saw the sign telling us that we had been on Swamp Road; we realized, then, that we had seen Swamp Road Sally. I had heard about her, but had never expected to see her," he continued.


Aunt Dinah wrote that Mother told her about these events shortly after they happened, but she never mentioned them again.


I understand, now, why Mother prayed those many years for Sally Blackstone. I'm thankful too, that she helped my mother so long ago. I have assumed the privilege of praying for Sally. I too pray that her spirit will be freed and that she will be able to Rest In Peace.


As submitted by Isadora Kitchen  9-7-23   Pataskala, Ohio


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